Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dolls and Softies up for Adoption

I have just added two of Nerina Roberts' beautiful dolls to the website.  These are up for adoption.

There are also four exciting new patterns to make from felt by Nerina:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Photos - Roz Workshop 14 September

Our Roz workshop on 14 September was heaps of fun.  In no small part due to the talented and enthusiastic ladies who came to make bears with us.
Sometimes things were upside down.
 At times we had our feet up.
And got our ears pinned back.
Making a pin-up girl!
Wrung its neck...

The end result was a bevy of beautiful bears.
Time to go home, Roz.  We had fun today!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Polymer Clay Teddy Bear Workshop

If you are South African, I hope you enjoyed the public holiday and celebrated it appropriately by having a braai.  For those of you who don't know, today is Heritage Day here in South Africa, and some of us celebrate it by having a barbeque, which we call a braai.  The meat is accompanied by bread, salads, and another delicacy (especially for those of us who grew up in the Free State) called mieliepap.  This is made from ground maize,  like polenta. 

I spent part of the day at my computer, deadlines looming, and part at the clay table where I just finished photographing the making of a teddy bear in detail, step by step.
This is for the polymer clay workshop at our studio on Saturday.

Some of my working samples obviously also missed their afternoon nap and are feeling grumpy.  Just look at that blue bear in the back row aiming a kick at the bear with the heart.  I do hope they are going to behave better on Saturday!

If you would like to join the workshop, here's some information:
  • The workshop is aimed at beginners, no clay experience is necessary. 
    I will provide clay and workshop notes, and we will use the studio tools, so you don't need to bring your own.  Teatime treats included, as always!
  • We will cover the basics of working with clay.  How to figure out proportions.  Specific techniques for making shapes that form the parts of the bear.  We will make two teddies.  Our first little ted will be basic, like the one with the heart.  The next one will have more detail and accessories.  
  • Cost of the workshop is R 120 and there are two workshops.  Morning session from 9am till 12pm, and afternoon session from 1pm till 4pm.  If you would like to stay for the day, you are welcome, arrange with me for a reduced workshop fee.  
  • Booking is essential.  At the moment there are still two places available in the morning class, and one in the afternoon.  Email me if you would like to attend.

journal illustrations and musings: the good, the bad, and the ugly dust bunnies...

Yes, yes, YES!  This is exactly what I have been musing about the last few days.  Why do we have to pretend to be perfect to be successful?  And why am I so intimidated by people who appear to lead a faultless life?  Because I am HUMAN, inside that package.

journal illustrations and musings: the good, the bad, and the ugly dust bunnies...: hello everyone... Hope your weekend was good. I've had better - b ut that's life, isn't it? The good, the bad,  and ...

Saturday, September 21, 2013


I have a friend who has a bit of a fling with flamingos at the moment.  It's her birthday today.  So what did I make her?  Flamingos!
The pin cushion is made from a tuna can, covered in silk and velvet.  I made the birds and water plants from polymer clay, and attached every piece to a pin.  One can re-arrange the pond if it takes your fancy to do that.  Reminds me a little bit of those zen gardens everyone had on their desk a while ago; sand, pebbles and a tiny rake so you can pretend doing yardwork while at the office.  This is the crafter's version :-)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Babies and bogged down

Yargh.  The only times I get bogged down in Facebook and Pinterest are when I have too much work to do.  Would someone come with a rope and haul me out please?

On the up side, I was one of the first ones to see when Carol from Bears and Beads announced a few minutes ago that her daughter Monique has had a baby.  Little boy.  110 years to the day from great grandfather's birth.  That takes some doing.

Congratulations to Monique and John, and the entire DuToit/Sandell family!!!

Tonight I have flamigoes (not storks) on my creative mind, and am desperately trying to load more products on the new website while Nerina taps her fingers on her desk and wiggles her eyebrows at me.  I'm up to MMMM... mmmmore than halfway done, Nerina.
Sometimes I just need a little push.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Evening

Had a lovely Roz workshop today.  Too tired to do much of anything this evening. 
Thought I would sneak upstairs and have a quiet read to recharge my batteries.   Discovered my favourite spot behind the clay table already occupied by Clyde.  Devious puppy.  As long as she doesn't start 'borrowing' my books!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Frightday the 13th

Today is one of those black cat days on the calendar… I’m not superstitious so I suppose it’s OK to wish you a happy Friday the 13th!  I do have a few silly beliefs though.  One of them is that if you want it to rain, just wash the windows.  Well, I washed the studio windows on Wednesday and have been hopefully watching the skies ever since.  Not a cloud in sight.  Henning says I should try painting the roof.  That always works for him.
Still on the subject of black cats; here in South Africa we don’t really celebrate Halloween.  In other countries they make more of a fuss over it.  Maybe we are too strait laced here, or maybe we just don’t scare easily :-)  We do have a colloquial saying that we can’t be frightened by cold pumpkin, so some Halloween stories must have crossed the equator with our ancestors.  I think it’s more than a month to Halloween but I see lots of spooky offerings on craft blogs and websites, and I have succumbed to the charms of a few of these spooky cats over the years.  One of my favourite designers is Susan Barmore from Frowning Francis Designs.  Another is Ginny Simpson from The Cat and the Fiddle. If you are thinking of doing something similar in time for Halloween, it’s probably time to start.
Tomorrow we have a workshop here in the studio to make Roz, the needle felt bear.  As soon as I finish writing this post, I’m going to start wiping tables and putting out the supplies that we need in class tomorrow.  I’m looking forward very much to the workshop, this is such a fun project, and it is very satisfying to see everyone’s bears taking shape.  I will put photos on the blog after the weekend.

And just to satisfy your sweet tooth, why not make this yummy looking (cold) pumpkin from paint and floral foam?  It would be a great prop with a teddy bear or doll.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Workshop dates

I've been remiss in not letting everyone know what workshops are happening when at Tin Soldiers over the next few weeks.  With all the hours going into uploading products on the new website I haven't updated the Workshops page, or sent out a Newsletter.

Here are some important dates at a glance:

Saturday 28 September - Clay teddy bears.
This is a workshop for beginners and advanced polymer clay crafters.  Cost R 120 including materials.  There is a morning session 9 till 12, and an afternoon session 1 till 4.  Book soon, the workshop is filling up fast!  I will have photos of our project on the blog soon.

30 September to 2 October - Sew Along on Monday evening, Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning.

4 October to 6 October - Centurion Craft Show. 
This is an exhibition of hand craft by artists who are also teachers.  Many of the exhibitors offer short courses and demonstrations at their stands.  It's a stunning event every year.  I will be offering some polymer clay and felt craft workshops this year again.  Will post photos on the blog soon.

Saturday 12 October.  All day bear making workshop for beginners and advanced.  This workshop is fully booked.

Saturday 19 October.  Roz needle felt workshop.  This workshop is fully booked.

26 October - Bearathon WAR day.
We are making teddy bears for Woman Against Rape.  There is a morning session 9 till 12, and an afternoon session 1 till 4.  Book soon, the workshops are filling up!  Come and make a simple teddy bear and donate it to the Bearathon effort.  Beginners and advanced bear makers welcome.  Cost R 100, includes a teddy bear kit and refreshments.  I will update the Bearathon page with information, and post it on the blog soon.

Saturday 2 November.  All day bear making workshop for beginners and advanced.

Saturday 16 November and Saturday 23 November.  Two full days of cloth doll making.  Aimed at beginners, I will take a very limited number of students in this workshop and cover several techniques hands-on.  Contact me for details.

Saturday 7 December.  All day bear making workshop for beginners and advanced.

Saturday 14 December and Monday 16 December.  Two full days of cloth doll making.  Aimed at beginners, I will take a very limited number of students in this workshop and cover several techniques hands-on.  Contact me for details.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Cleanup

I'm on a mission to reduce clutter and to eradicate the dust bunnies that are growing teeth all over the place.  Today I had a surreal cleanout of my wardrobe.
Started by throwing all the clothes in a pile on the bed for sorting.  Then I crawled inside to see what is hiding in the back.
Had a little "Alice down the rabbit hole" moment there.  I don't think I've been inside a wardrobe since I was about five.  Suddenly I had a vivid memory of a brown cardboard suitcase full of childrens magazines called Bollie.  I used to read those in the back of my wardrobe, when life became too much for a small child. 
Alas, found no magazines.  But I did find my skipping rope.  There was a summer between age six and seven when I never stopped skipping.  I gave the the rope a swing and tried a few quick hops, but the batteries must be flat, it was much more difficult than I remember, and I definitely didn't have so many wobbly bits back then.
Out came a wooden contraption with screws and wingnuts on each corner.  Took me a while to remember what that was - a flower press.   Some time in my pre-teens I was heavily into botanicals, there are still a few squashed roses in there.  I sat down and pondered the merits of going into the garden and finding a few flowers to press, but alas, it's only early spring and there are hardly any blossoms yet.  This is a hobby for someone who has lots of time.
Next I found a pair of fishnet stockings.  Teens and later.  Only way I will ever be able to wear those again is as a scarf!  A bit depressing that, so I went and made a cup of tea and had a good giggle remembering a time when the stockings fit.
Before you know it, the afternoon is gone and it's bedtime.  I'm dog tired and my bed is buried under a mountain of clothes.  I think I will find a sleeping bag and camp on the couch tonight.
Sleep tight, everyone.

My friend Dawn is an incredibly talented and hard working toy maker.
This weekend I visited her table at a craft fair.

If you would like to adopt one of her toys, or have one made specially for you, you can contact Dawn by email nvisser(at)

Friday, September 6, 2013

We made it to the weekend!

Wow, another Friday evening, and I don’t know where the week has gone.  In between classes and cutting up meters and meters of felt that arrived, I seem to spend most of my time dusting and sweeping up all the dry grass the dogs are tracking indoors.  We really need rain to clear the air and to glue the dust to the ground for a change.
I’m happy to report that Dino is feeling MUCH better after his snake bite episode.  He’s developing a bald spot on his forehead where the snake bit him.  I hope it’s not permanent, and it’s not going to get worse than hair falling out.  Fortunately he doesn’t hang out in front of mirrors checking his appearance :-) As long as there are lots of cuddles and a snack going around his world is right.
Breakfast time, and the whole pack is milling around.  You can see Dino's bald spot, and that he is socialising with the other dogs again.
Something else that kept me busy this week, and nearly made it impossible to write this post today, was a virus in my computer.  I have to confess straight away that it was my own fault.  I went into a dodgy website and tried to download a file. (No, it was a sci-fi book, not porn).  My state of the art anti virus program annihilated three worms trying to sneak into my hard drive.  A fourth one slipped through.   This I only realized the next morning when I booted my computer and things were not as they should be.  After a scan of my entire computer and devices attached, the anti virus program was still complacently flashing green check marks, but I could see evidence of infection all over.  Instead of doing the sensible thing and taking the computer away to have it disinfected, I went after the worm with flame throwers and grenades.  I nuked every file where I thought it might be hiding, and caused lots of ‘collateral damage’.  Ah, but the satisfaction when I squashed it in the end!  Standing on top of the smoking ruins, I realized that I had no idea how to fix the files I destroyed during my rampage.  End result:  two days reinstalling and repairing programs.  It’s all back in working order now.  And I have two anti virus programs running, and a backup of my backup.  Talk about paranoid.    

Wishing you a creative weekend.