Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Petzi, a little animal I made for my own collection from an Eileen Seifert pattern

I really admire the designs of Eileen Seifert.  Over time I have bought and hoarded quite a few of her patterns.  Oh, to find the time to make all the things that inspire me!
A few years ago I was practising making faces with a press mold.  Most of them turned out awful and were thrown away, but I kept a few that I felt had potential for an altered art project in future.  Recently I came across one of these and thought it looked rather like a cat.  It gave me the idea that I could adapt Eileen's Petzi pattern and make one.  This is the result.
I rescaled the pattern to make an 8cm (3 inch) animal, turned the teddy ears into pointy ears, and made a tail.  My cat-Petzi turned out like a rather well stuffed sausage.  I love the old fashioned look. 
Here is the original pattern.  Also have a look at Eileen's other patterns.  You will be inspired!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Care Packages for the Elderly - Handed Over!

Yesterday Frikkie and his Lifemed team handed over the care packages that we put together at Tin Soldiers to a group of elderly people in Pretoria.  Here's a picture of the happy conclusion to this year's project.  A big round of applause to everyone who participated!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Birthday Tiger

It's a birthday tiger, and it's mine!  This little cutie amigurumi tiger with his birthday cake was made by Tania.  Isn't he just gorgeous?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday again

This is me today.  Must be because it's Monday.  I have dates for workshops to share with you.  Will do it as soon as there's a calm moment.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Little dolls in my attic workroom

As the end of the year approaches, time seems to run faster and faster. Right now I would like to start slowing down, spend time with family and friends, and browse through all the delectable Christmas goodies on offer in the shops. Instead I’m trying to meet the demand for workshops, trying to fill orders, trying to get the calendar out for the first weeks of next year before all my customers disappear away on holiday. Sometimes in the evening I feel as though all I’ve been doing is trying to get things done all day! Such is the lot of the self-employed.

One can also see the state of ‘business’ when you look at my attic work room. Right now there’s no space for a new project on my painting table, and little dolls are scattered as though it’s Santa’s workshop. All I need is a few elves to help. What will help is that a friend is coming to visit for a few days next week. Nothing like an important visitor to encourage frantic activity, putting things back in their places and tidying away the late night sweetie wrappers!

Wishing you a creative and productive weekend.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Care Packages for the Elderly - We did it!

On Saturday morning bright and early a group of volunteers got together at Tin Soldiers to pack care packages for the elderly.
 We started with a tower of plain boxes
and sorted the donations that were going to fill them.
Then we got very busy covering the boxes with pretty paper
and filling each box with goodies.
Finally it was time to tie a bow around each box and the work was done.
We packed 46 boxes on Saturday, and have received several more pre-packed and ready to deliver.  Thanks to generous donations we were able to fill each box with a substantial number of items. 
A hearty THANK YOU to everyone who donated the contents of the boxes, and to all the ladies who gave their time to put it together.  Ina will hand over the care packages for distribution to Frikkie at the end of this week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Winnie the Pooh - Family Picture

Kleintjie sent this photo of a collection of Winnie the Pooh characters that she made here at Tin Soldiers over the last few years. 
She says that her grand daughter loves them to bits.  Isn't it wonderful to have a set of hand made animals to play with, rather than the mass produced toys one sees everywhere?  I'm sure the little girl is going to grow up with happy memories of her grandmother and her childhood. 

Nellie - Scenes from the first Workshop

On Saturday we had Nellie workshop number one.  There have been lots of enquiries about the workshop, I will announce dates for January 2013 soon. 
In the quiet moments before the first ladies arrive, I'm always a bit nervous that I've forgotten something.  Fortunately the important things were all in place.
Once the workshop got going there was never a quiet moment.
Contemplating the next step...
Oh, no!  Someone lost their head!

As usual, by the end of the day I was so engrossed in finishing touches to the bears that I completely forgot about the camera and never took a picture of the completed Nellies.  As soon as someone sends me their photo, I will add it to the blog.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nellie - Open Mouth Teddy Bear Workshop

Ta-da, she's finished! 
Nellie, my open mouth bear with the full works.  She has a built-up lip line, sculpted tongue, teeth, hand painted eyes with eyelids, clay paws, waxed nose... Her mouth can open/close, and lots of subtle shading and sculpting went into creating the bear just the way I envisioned her.  I will be teaching a workshop to make Nellie on 17 November.  There is only one place still available in class and there's homework to do.  If you would like to join us, you need to jump to it.


Below I have added pictures that show the process of making a bear with this type of head. 
In the beginning, there is not much to see.  This bear could be anyone.
Sculpting the inside of the mouth.  This is the part I like least of all, but also the most important if you want to have a friendly bear who is anatomically correct.
By now the lips have been added, and shading done inside the mouth.  From here on the bear is heaps of fun, she was laughing all the while I worked on her.
Teeth in, and working on the nose.
Painting the eyes, and making eyelids.
Eye sockets coloured in preparation for inserting eyes.
Hard to believe that this bedraggled looking creature is going to be a beauty in a short while.  The fur still needs trimming too.
Now we are starting to get there!  Trimmed around the eyes so that Nellie can see properly.
Because the jaw is wired, Nellie's mouth can open and close.
Here Nellie is completely finished.  The crochet collar and flowers are a nice finishing touch, but not absolutely necessary on a realistic type of bear.  You can accessorize her in any way you like.
For this project we are using Loubear's new fabric Adele. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Megan's Happy Birthday

Yep, today is my happy birthday.  It's an ordinary working day though, I have too much work at the moment to take time out, will take a relax day soon.  You know you are getting old when birthdays are not the day when the world has to stop so you can eat cake :-)
I am grateful for all the things that surround me though, for having enough work, stimulating work.  For my family and friends and animals.  And I'm grateful to everyone who has phoned or sent a message to congratulate me.  It makes me feel loved.  Thank you everyone!
The internet is a large part of my life, I think some days I virtually live in it.  I also get a lot of clues about what happens in the world from my interaction with various websites and people by email.  When I opened Google to do a search this morning, the home screen had birthday cake on it.
I immediately clicked through to see which famous person shares a birthday with me, only to get a message that says 'Happy birthday Megan'.  So there you have it, I must be famous.  Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.  Who says the internet is impersonal?

And in case you wonder how the animals are celebrating...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Today I was supposed to start work in earnest on the open mouth bear that I will be teaching in November. What did I do instead??? Put up the Christmas tree!!! Some of us have no self discipline. I will regret it in the coming week when I have to work very late at night to catch up the hours, but ho, ho, what fun I had today. Right now the studio is a mess, boxes of ornaments and strands of lights lying around everywhere. As soon as I finish writing this I will have to start cleaning up, tomorrow we have a sale day in the studio, and a teddy bear lesson in the afternoon.
Hope you are planning a creative weekend too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's a dog's life...

It's been crazy busy at Tin Soldiers this October, which is why the blog is a little quiet.  One workshop after another, mail orders to pack, stock arriving and needing to be sorted and shelved... the dogs are exhausted just from watching me.  Today they are sunning themselves in front of my office window while I catch up with paperwork.  I hope you are having a relaxed weekend too!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Centurion Craft Show - Report

Today I have a creative excuse for not being active at the clay table in my attic work room.  While I was taking mail order parcels to the Post Office, a swarm of bees decided to take up residence in the roof beams.  We have been experiencing a heatwave and insect and animal alike are hot and short tempered.  Every time I stick my head in there they buzz around me in a most threatening manner.  I've decided to leave them be till it grows dark this evening, when it cools down I will roust them out.  Fortunately I have experience working with honey bees, and am not allergic to their sting so when they have calmed down we will probably come to an amicable agreement over ownership of the attic.

In the meantime let me tell you about last weekend's craft show.  There isn't much to say, except that it was AWESOME.  We had a good turnout of visitors on all three days, and Henning virtually whipped the table cloths from under the last customers still working at the demonstration tables at 5pm on Sunday.  Doing demos and letting the ladies sit and make a small project was a very good idea.  It helped ensure that we were busy all the time.  Classes at Tin Soldiers are now almost fully booked for the remainder of 2012.  How lovely to meet so many new crafters!
Here Manie Kriel is entertaining the ladies at the demo table with the creative use of a scarf from the stand next to ours.  Manie from Manique Beadwork was a fellow exhibitor.  He's famous for his intricate beaded jewellery.  If you haven't seen his work, head over to his website for a peek.
Probably one of the things I appreciate most about this craft show is the level of collaboration between the artists who exhibit.  Because everyone is doing something different, there is no competition in our individual fields, and everyone gathers a heap of inspiration by watching their colleagues at work.
And this is what our sales tables looked like. 

Even the BBS (Big Black Suitcase) went with.  With such a generous amount of space available it is possible to build a beautiful display.

The next Centurion Craft Show is planned for 4-6 October 2013.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Newsletter, and classes at the Centurion Craft Show

The October edition of Tin Soldiers Newsletter is available.  Click HERE to download it in PDF format.
Remember that we will be at the Centurion Craft Show all day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. 
Here's a little preview of the classes that we will present at the show.  Full details are in the Newsletter.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Spring Birthday Lizard

Remember the lizard I was trying to crochet a few months ago?  I made the pattern and designed his parts as I went along.  Then life happened, the friend that I was making him for got better and didn't need a get well present anymore, and I gave up on the legs.
Well, last week the friend had a birthday.  So the lizard became a birthday lizard instead!  Spring is fully under way now that we've had the first rain, I managed to get some quick snaps of the lizard in the garden before I delivered him on Saturday.  See how well he's camouflaged?!
I'm pleased with the way it turned out, I might just try my hand at another one some time.

Minnow got a kitten

Liz forwarded a picture of Minnow with her new kitten.
Doesn't she just look like the happiest little girl in her bedroom with all her favourite things.  I see that the kitten came with a special sleeping basket, and since last time, Minnow got a shiny red phone.  I hope she decides to call some time and tell me all about her 'puddy tat'...

The Mill Cottage stocks a wide range of pets for your dolls house.  Not only cats and dogs, you will find bunnies, turtles and even an owl in their collection.  These little animals will make a nice accessory for a small teddy bear or doll.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fuller Picture

I have added a few more tiles to my polymer clay book cover.

Can you spot them?  Techniques used include, mock cloisonne, backfilling, image transfer, and working with mica powders.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Turning over a new leaf - Polymer clay book cover

Here's a sneak preview of something I'm working on. 
It's a mosaic style polymer clay book cover.   I measured out a block the size of my book, then divided it into smaller squares.  Over the last few weeks I've been mulling over the polymer clay techniques that I use most often, and have identified no fewer than seventeen that I love creating with.  Every tile represents one or more techniques.  Not only is it a sampler of my work, but a fantastic way of teaching a lot of techniques in one project.  Hence, a new workshop in the making!  Here are close-ups of the first few tiles.
Mokume Gane, tool impressions and rubbing with acrylic paint.
Lace impression rubbed with acrylic paint.
Caning, framing, tool impressions and rubbing with acrylic paint.
Skinner blend, tool impressions and rubbing with acrylic paint.  I'm no good at drawing, but I love the way this tile turned out.
And this is my other favourite tile so far.  Framing using cutters, including mixed media elements, making letters and clay impressions, a bit of caning, and rubbing with acrylic paint.  This tile was amazingly easy to make.

I'm looking forward to showing you the finished book cover.

Friday, September 7, 2012

500 Bears to Comfort Children in Distress

Yesterday Frikkie Gous from LifeMed took delivery of approximately 500 teddy bears that we collected for Bearathon 2012.
Left to right:  Megan Wallace, Frikkie Gous and Ina Dandridge.
Frikkie is the marketing manager for LifeMed.  Ina is our Bearathon co-ordinator.  She invested many hours this year in bringing bear making supplies together with the willing hands who make bears for Bearathon every year, and also collecting donations of materials and ready made bears.  Her final duty for 2012 was to find a suitable recipient for the bears, and to arrange the pickup.

This year our Bearathon bears went to LifeMed, and will be distributed by them in accordance with the last wish of Hanco Viljoen, a victim of cancer.
You can read Hanco's story HERE.
Please also like Hanco's TeddyCare Project on Facebook.

Bearathon is an annual event organized by Tin Soldiers Studio.  If you would like to be involved in next year's event, please EMAIL Megan. 

A really big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed teddy bears this year. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Big Black Suitcase, and Miniatures Spectacular report

The miniatues fair this year was everything I hoped it might be, and more.  There is no greater sense of belonging than finding yourself in a hall full of like-minded people, especially if some of them have been friends for years.  It makes me realize all over how quiet and isolated my life is.  I certainly made up for it over the weekend,  make no mistake! Here are a few photos taken at the fair.
This year we celebrated our 20th anniversary.  Can't believe I've been doing this for so long!

Apart from sales tables, there was a display of club members' work.  One needs hours to take in all the little details.

We recently lost Jean to cancer.  She was famous for making toilets, her wry humor had us begging for more every year.  This photo has the TeePee, Passing time, and Eggloo.  Don't they make you want to scream with laughter?
And one of my personal favourites, the Bear Necessity...

This is my sales table at the fair. 
Did you spot it?  Yep, the Big Black Suitcase.   In a future blog I will tell you the story of the BBS, and how I made it.