Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Triple Celebration!

Hooray!  The Pretty Little Birdhouse tutorial is finished, and it's in my Etsy shop now.  And there's a HUGE discount specially for you.

But that's not all my news. 
When I started this blog, about 30 people read it every week, I thought that was fantastic.  Wow, someone visits my blog every day!  Over time the number of readers have slowly increased and by now a lot of people read my blog regularly.
I noticed that the little graph of lifetime visitors was slowly climbing to the 200K mark, and I was going to make a celebration of it.  Then, last Friday while I was very busy getting ready for the weekend's market and workshop, there was a whopping 950 page views on my blog in one day! 

That's a new record.   We jumped right over that 200K hurdle, and landed by a thousand on the other side.
Statistics is a dry subject, but when one runs a business it's important to keep an eye on the numbers.  More than that, I work very much in isolation, and often don't see other people for a week or more.  Looking at my little visitor graph and knowing that you looked in on me gives me a warm feeling of companionship.  I am grateful to all of you.

So, to celebrate these three things - completion of the Little Birdhouse tutorial, reaching the two hundred thousand visitor mark, and having 950 page views in a single day -  I'm offering the tutorial for $3 in my Etsy shop.  Next week, it will go up to its regular price of $12.  Click anywhere on this page where you see a Pretty Little Birdhouse, to be taken directly to the listing.

Can I ask a favour?  If you buy the tutorial on Etsy this weekend, would you leave a rating for it?  Endorsements do so much to get the ball rolling when one puts a new design out there.

Thank you, thank you!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

How to make a Fairy Basket from an Acorn Cup

This tutorial was originally posted exactly five years ago.  How time flies!  I'm in miniature making mood, and I still love making these little baskets at Eastertime. I thought I would reshare it, in case you feel like joining me.

I’m slouched behind my computer, supposed to be concentrating on  work.  But somehow my mind only wants to wander today…  It is autumn in the Southern hemisphere, and staring through my studio window, I see that the trees are loaded with acorns.  Which makes me think of squirrels and hoarding things for winter.  Which makes me wonder what the fairies are harvesting right now?  And what are they using to bring the harvest home in?  Which brings me back to acorns.  Acorn cups specifically.  Wouldn’t an acorn cup make just the perfect gathering basket for a fairy?  So, let’s drop what we are doing and go help the fairies make some baskets to bring in the harvest!

Here is what you will need:
Acorn cups, duh, can’t do anything without those.
Something to make a handle with.  Materials that would work well—a platted pine needle, a pliable twig, a snip of wire, a sprig of grass, a scrap of ribbon or string.
If you want your basket to stand, you will need to sand the bottom flat, or glue a small button, metal washer or a flattened ball of polymer clay to the base.
Line the basket to cushion a fragile load.  Use materials that a fairy would typically choose—moss, tiny feathers, a scrap of lace or fabric, cat hair. Huh?  Just checking to see if you are still paying attention :-)

Constructing the basket:
Start by making the base of the acorn cap flat so that it can stand.  You can do this by rubbing the base over sandpaper, or by gluing a small button, metal washer or flattened ball of baked polymer clay to the base.

If you prefer a more finished and durable look, varnish your acorn cup.
Glue the handle to the sides of the acorn cup.  My handles are made from wire, platted pine needles, twisted polymer clay, ribbon and rope.  If you are using wire or rope, you could drill two small holes to put the ends of the handle through the acorn cup instead of gluing it.  I made a polymer clay grip for the wire handle.

Advice when platting pine needles:
These make the most natural looking basket handles, but they require a bit of patience to assemble.  I like to use dry pine needles, because of the natural brown colour.  Soak the pine needles in water for a few hours before starting, this will make them pliable and less prone to breaking.
Tape the end of the pine needle to your work surface with masking tape, and put a pin through it to stop it from pulling out.  Carefully and tightly plat the pine needle.  Rub over the platted length after every few twists to make sure that it is lying flat.  When you get to the end, tape the needles down with a second piece of masking tape, and leave in position to dry. 
I find it easier to glue one end of the basket handle to the acorn cup and let it dry, then cut to length and glue the other end.

Line the basket:
I used a variety of linings—moss in the wire handle basket, feathers in the baskets with pine needle handles, lace with the ribbon handle, and knitting wool fluff to resemble raffia and moss in the basket with rope handle and basket with polymer clay handle.
As you can see, some baskets have a more naturalistic look, and others are more colourful. 

Tip for lining material:
Some wool shops have an amazing variety of chenille and boucle knitting wool.  It can be unravelled or snipped into tiny pieces to make moss and raffia to line your acorn baskets.  Chenille sticks (pipe cleaner) also come in a variety of colours.  Use small sharp scissors to cut off the fluff and use it to line your baskets.
Fill the baskets with goodies and drop off at the Fairy Depot.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

Workshop report

I'm happy to tell you that yesterday's Pretty Little Birdhouse workshop at MinF was a big success.  I'm still on a high.  After all that stress preparing for the workshop, it was amazing when it went off without a glitch. 
The success of the workshop was in no small part attributable to the participants.  I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to teach a group of enthusiastic, talented, friendly people.
 Brenda and Chris

I'm putting final touches to the print version of the workhsop notes.  The workshop will be available as a PDF download early this week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Imagine with me:
Cold winter day.  The skies are a clear bright blue and sunlight streams in the window.  Far off and indistictly you can hear the sound of birds, traffic, people talking.  You are warm, sitting in a comfortable chair and under your hands you feel the texture of the blanket that covers you.  Look at the dust motes, they are making patterns as they swirl in a sunbeam.

Why are we doing this?
I was having a chat with a hypnotherapist.  Ha ha, no I'm not her patient, I'm probably beyond help.  She's doing research for a script she's writing and asked people to describe the most relaxing place they can imagine. I'm a contributor.
People who are asked, come up with a walk on the beach, waterfall in a forest, campifre on an island... Am I the only one who goes to a place much closer to home?  I hope it is a good sign that I am so grounded and happy in my surroundings.

Whenever I see dust motes caught in a sunbeam I stand transfixed.  It is my quiet spot, it triggers the happy hormones in my brain. 

We all need to hold still, take a few deep breaths and feel calm wash over us sometimes.  What do you imagine when you go to your tranquil place?  How many of your senses can you use to describe this place?  We would love to hear from you!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The cat is disconsolately wandering through the empty Del Prado Dollhouse, wondering whether the human was eaten by giant spider.  The truth is much more mundane.   I'm dealing with real life at present, and it's crap.  Happily, I'm able to escape once in a while to make a sweet little birdhouse or two.  I will be posting about that next week.

In the meantime, everyone who is within driving distance, remember that there is a miniature fair in Bryanston, Johannesburg next Saturday.  I hope to see many of you there for shopping, and to attend the Sweet Little Birdhouse workshop.
Have a lovely weekend, everyone!