Monday, August 15, 2016

My Handcrafted, Cotton Batting Candlesticks

Here you can see there is a faux, cotton batting
candle for every branch. One hundred years
ago German's would have used real lighted
candles instead. I will include many more
cotton ornaments than this on the tree come
Christmas. Stay tuned for updates.
       I know that there are some of you who would prefer to use real candles on your feather tree and wouldn't mind dousing it with a bucket of water should it catch on fire! However, I think I'll just do things my own way and relax; knowing that I can be sure the tree won't need such attention should I decide to take a nap or exit for a quick trip to the kitchen for cookies.  Besides, my mother-in-law paid far too much money for this little feathered beauty for me to take chances with it!

Supply List:
  • old steel coat hangers with paper tube bottoms
  • cotton balls
  • masking tape
  • wooden tooth picks or wooden skewers
  • white school glue
  • Christmas feather tree candle holders, clip on type 
  • Krylon Glowz, glow-in-th-dark white spray paint or another brand if you find it lasts longer
  • Exacto knife or single edged razor blade (You may need one of these to cut the cardboard tube.)
Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. Gather the supplies. You may need to substitute alternative paper tubing if you do not have the old type of hangers that I used. If cannot find the appropriate size, simple use toilet paper tubes. Cut these length wise, curl them until they are the proper diameter to fit snug inside the candle holders and tape the edges together with masking tape. 
  2. Remove the tubes and cut them varying lengths to mimic real candles. I choose to make some of my candles shorter than others in order to give them the appearance of use.
  3. Cover the exterior of your cardboard candle with a layer of masking tape. Leave to top end of your tube uncovered so that you will be able to insert a fake wick later. 
  4. Now cover the masked cardboard candle with white glue and carefully wrap each candle with two lagers of cotton batting. Add extra glue in between the applied layers. 
  5. Roll out long "snake like" pieces of cotton batting to create the twist of the candle. Apply more glue to the candle in a serpentine twist pattern, like you would see on a candy cane. Spin the these snake like pieces up the sides following the spiral glue trail. Let the candle dry upright inside the clip candle holders. Apply a generous fourth coat of white glue to the faux candles and let them dry.
  6. Next you will need to twist tiny cotton batting flames onto the ends of your wooden tooth picks. These can be abstract in appearance as they are to look like tiny flames from a distance. I twisted two separate layers of cotton batting on the ends of each wick. 
  7. Spray paint your wicks separately from the candles. You will need to coat them with Glowz every year perhaps. Keeping the wicks separate from the actual candles will allow you to replace the wicks over time should you need to. 
  8. After following the specific guidelines given for the glow-in-the-dark paint, let these wicks dry and insert one into the top of each candlestick that is clamped onto your tree.
Left, old steel coat hangers with paper tube bottoms. Right, Christmas feather tree candle holders, clip on type.
"You may need to substitute alternative paper tubing if you do not have the old type of hangers that I used. If cannot find the appropriate size, simple use toilet paper tubes. Cut these length wise, curl them until they are the proper diameter to fit snug inside the candle holders and tape the edges together with masking tape."
 Left, You will need to twist tiny cotton batting flames onto the ends of your wooden tooth picks. These can be abstract in appearance as they are to look like tiny flames from a distance. I twisted two separate layers of cotton batting on the ends of each wick. Center, I poked holes into an old egg carton in order to keep my wicks upright while spraying these with glow-in-the-dark paint. I needed to use an entire can of this paint in order for the flames to be noticeably glowing. Come December I think I will try dipping them into a liquid form of the paint to see if this will help them glow even brighter. Right you can see the backside of the egg carton where the sticks are pocking through.
Left, here you can see I've put my pretend flaming wick into the hollow candle. Right, is a hollow, cotton batting candle without a wick.
more pictures of the completed cotton batting candles that I made for my feather tree this year.
I finally acquired a small, fence to set my feather tree inside. It was missing only one picket. I cut this out from an old piece of scrap wood and sanded it down to match the other pickets. Then I painted my fence a bright cherry red for Christmas. The project only cost me three dollars! I found the fence in a resale shop near my home.

       I know some of you think I have lost my mind with the scale of these candles, rest assured, I just took the pictures from downward angles in order to get closeups of the textures and shapes. The candles are not too large for the tree. These were measured against the real ones!
      Just right is a photo taken of the same set of candles without weird angles. Looks different doesn't it? You thought I'd lost it making all of these ornaments didn't you? Rest assured, I just thought this picture on the right was a bit boring. This little tree will be beautiful come Christmas, don't worry.

More Cotton Batting Christmas Displays and Ornaments For You to Explore:
       Some of you may prefer to age your own versions of these candles. Just fill a spray bottle with some very strong brewed coffee and spritz the lot until you achieve the color that you like. I prefer to let my versions age naturally.

Cut a "Jigging Puppet" from Wood

At a glance, the illusion of real legs is unusual and, with a
 little practice, you can give lifelike interpretations of many dances.

       Just a simple jigsawed cutout of 1/4 in. plywood, with hands and face outlined in pencil on the surface, this doll walks with the aid of legs formed by the first two fingers of your hand. Two shoes are carved from small blocks of wood and recessed to fit tightly on your finger tips. A short handle glued to the back of the doll, as shown in one of the photos, wedges between the fingers and supports the figure. Hands, arms, face, eyes and clothing are easily out lined with black paint.

Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Craft Your Own Kaleidoscope

Little girl playing with a home-made kaleidoscope.

       Visitors to London about 1816 were amazed to see people in the streets gazing skyward through pasteboard tubes. But these watchers were peering at no eclipse or comet. They were fascinated by a scientific novelty that had taken London by storm the kaleidoscope, invented by Sir David Brewster. First regarded only as a toy, it was soon adopted by artists as an aid in originating new designs. Sir David named his invention by combining three Greek words: kalos, meaning beautiful; eidos, form; and skopeo, I see. Almost anyone who has looked through a kaleidoscope will agree that the name is appropriate.
       Two mirrors on facing walls create the familiar illusion of an endless succession of walls. Multiple reflection also produces the patterns in a kaleidoscope, but the mirrors are joined at one edge, so that the reflections form a circle. Their number depends upon the angle between the mirrors.
        Because of the angle at which reflection occurs in a kaleidoscope, ordinary mirrors will produce a blurred double image both the silver backing and the glass surface reflect light. The mirrors must be of the front-surface type. Unsilvered glass acts as such a mirror, particularly if its back surface is blackened with paint or enamel. Small kaleidoscopes can be bought at toy counters, but you can assemble one from common materials, and learn much about this fascinating device. Pictures on the following pages show step by step how to build a two-mirror kaleidoscope that will form twelve-unit patterns similar to those above. Three mirrors of the same size arranged triangle fashion will form six-unit designs and multiply each into an allover pattern.

Make your own kaleidoscope, detailed instructions are below.
1: The kaleidoscope on page 110 was made from these parts: a 2″ by 9″ mailing tube, two glass strips 1-7/8″ by 8″, a frosted and a clear glass disk, black paint, tape, cement, cardboard, plastic scraps, and covering paper
2: Sizes are not critical if correct proportions are maintained. Any tube can be used, provided the glass strips are cut to fit inside at an angle of 30 deg. They should be about four times as long as they are wide. Coat one side of each with black paint or enamel
3: While the painted glass is drying, cut a disk out of stiff cardboard, making it a close fit inside one end of the tube. At the center punch a 1/4″ peephole. If no punch is available, use a sharp knife to cut a triangular hole 3/8″ on a side, as shown above
4: When the paint is dry, join the mirrors at one edge with adhesive tape, the unpainted sides facing. Set them on a drawn angle of 30. deg. or on the diagram below. Cut a cardboard spacer to fit closely within the outer edges
5: Tape the spacing strip in place to hold the mirrors 30 deg. apart. Be sure the painted surfaces are outside; then slide the mirrors into the tube as in the photo below. If they fit loosely, wrap a sheet of paper about them
6: Push the mirrors 1/8″ inside the end of the tube. So placed, they should reach to within about 7/8″ of the other end. This will leave ample room for the load. Apply cement thinly inside the 1/8″ space and to the edge of the eyepiece, and press this into place
7: Turn the tube around and push the clear glass disk into it right against the ends of the mirrors. A little cement may be spread around the edge. Now cut a cardboard strip 5/8″ wide and long enough to overlap inside the tube. Cement it fast as in the photo
8: You are now ready to add the load. Bits of colored plastic, broken glass, beads, and scraps of celluloid are suitable. All should be translucent or transparent. Carved pieces, notched edges, and saw cuts yield odd effects
9: It is interesting to experiment by varying the amount of the load and using scraps of different colors. To view the patterns, press the frosted disk into place. When the load is satisfactory, secure the disk by cementing it
10: You can improve the outward appearance of your kaleidoscope by wrapping the tube in some gaily colored decorative paper. The kind used for Christmas packages is ideal. Clear model-airplane dope, lacquer, or varnish will prevent injury from frequent handling
       That beauty is in the eye of the beholder is literally true of these kaleidoscope patterns, for only one twelfth of each is real, a jumble of bits of plastic and glass. Eleven twelfths are reflections, blended by repetition into a symmetrical whole. These designs were photographed in a kaleidoscope built especially for P. S. M. To minimize the loss of light in successive reflections, special mirrors are used. They consist of plate glass on which vaporized aluminum has been deposited in a vacuum to form the reflecting surface. For these photos, the kaleidoscope was illuminated by two 2,000-watt spotlights shining through a sheet of opal glass. One-second exposures were made on Kodochrome film at lens openings of from f/8 to f/16. Oct, 1944
What's in a kaleidoscope?

Word Seach: Christmas Gifts From Mom, 1920

Print this Christmas Word Search for a party or fun activity during the month of December.
 It is full of common gifts from mothers, grandmothers and aunts in the year 1920.

Coloring Pictures of Vintage Baby Dolls

      Here are some adorable vintage baby dolls and their sweet little owners to color while you are dreaming of Christmas this holiday season.
A little girl holds her Christmas doll. She is from a restored 1908 newspaper ad.
This little kewpie doll is someone's Christmas angel.
A baby doll from 1900 something; she is very dumpy and cute.
Don't forget to drag these coloring pages into a Word Doc and enlarge them before printing them out. The larger the image, the easier it is for little ones to color.

A vintage film about the peeing Betsy Wetsy Doll.

Vintage Santa Wave Gift Tags

       These vintage Santa wave, greeting tags come in blue, green and red. I have cleaned, redrawn and restored these designs from a very old newspaper clipping. Use them in your personal crafts only please.
Santa wave, blue gift tag.
Santa wave, green gift tag.
Santa wave, red gift tag

The Gift I Didn't Get!

From 1904 newspaper
A Christmas Poem by Peter McArthur, 1904

I Have presents by the dozen,
Meant to make my Christmas glad.
From each uncle, aunt and cousin,
Best a fellow ever had.
There's a keepsake from my mother,
Father sent a check and yet,
I am thinking of another
Of the one I didn't get.

There are gifts from all the fellows,
Pipes and things a chum will send:
There's a tie, all reds and yellows,
From a girl who calls me friend.
You would think me far from sighted
If you saw them all and yet.
I confess, I'm most delighted
With the one I didn't get.

She told me it was ready,
She'd prepared it long before:
I'd been calling on her steady
For as least a year or more.
She told me all about it.
And her eyes with tears were wet.
And I'm happy, never doubt it,
For that gift I didn't get.

Her attitude was altered
When I called on her last night,
But my tale of love I faltered.
And I guess I did it right.
And this little rhyme is written
'Cause I'm full of joy--you bet!
For a frosty little mitten
Was the gift I didn't get.

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.