Anime, posters, and backpacks…oh my February!

It has been a busy end of February around here. My fingers might fall off, I’ve been crocheting so much! I am desperately trying to make enough cute little geeky things to bring to Knightrocon this weekend, my first event as Happy Handmade! Check it out! My friend, Jackie, invited me to share a craft table at UCF’s anime convention taking place THIS SATURDAY from 11am-11pm. I probably won’t stay that late into the night, but I’ll definitely be set up for the afternoon. I am so eager to see what, if anything, sells. If nothing else, it will be fun to hang out and be a part of it. I had big ideas for my nerdy inventory that I had to pare down a bit, due to an exciting development which I will reveal later this week. Still, I’ll have a cute little selection available. I’ll be sure to post lots of pictures!

Kidzart at Jhonen’s school was on Sunday and we had a great time. I volunteered to make the posters and hung out at the Portfolio-making table which reminded me of the good old days in the education department at the Orlando Museum of Art.

Here are the posters I spent way too many hours making.

Here are Jhonen’s Kidzart masterpieces! He, of course, liked the Cookie Decorating station the best and the evidence of that artwork was gone in about two seconds.

In other random news, I have an adorable new crafting companion. She goes with me wherever I go. I have tried many, many containers for carrying my yarn and tools with me and have struggled to find the perfect solution. I really loved this ridiculous purple glitter mini kaboodle chest for a while. At first it held the perfect amount of stuff without being too huge. It had a handle for easy carrying and a lock that kept it closed nicely. My son kept pulling the lock off, though, and I noticed if I ever had to carry around more than two balls of yarn at a time for color changed, my “treasure chest” couldn’t hold everything. Then my dog jumped off the couch right onto it and broke the entire lid off.

I’d been searching for a replacement and couldn’t decide on a nything. Well, you know that bee backpack and bee lunchbox I was pining over a few weeks back? We went ahead and got them fo my son. I love them so much and they make me happy every time I see them. One day a box arrived in the mail and Ben said it was for me. I couldn’t imagine what it could be. Then I opened it and found THIS. My new, adorable crochet bag. It’s perfect.

I should have LOTS more news including a fun announcement coming soon!! If you’re feeling nerdy, come out to Knightrocon and say hi!

Happy Leap Year Day, everybody!

Meet Mini Raiden (and other custom-made ami dogs)!

One of my latest custom orders was for a friend who requested an amigurumi version of her beloved Shiba Inu, Raiden. As you can see, Raiden is a very handsome, white Shiba and I definitely wanted to do him justice. Dogs are tricky because they all have the same basic shapes, yet subtle differences in head, nose, and tail shape are essential to get right so you can tell one breed apart from another. That’s why it’s really important to pay attention to and emphasize the parts that make each breed special. In Raiden’s case, it was definitely his cute triangular ears and amazing curlicue tail.   Here are a couple pictures of Raiden that I was sent:

And here is Amigurumi Raiden!

I especially love how the collar and tag turned out. I’d  done it before, but this time I used one of my rubber stamp letters and the letter R came out much crisper and cleaner than I thought it would!

Here’s how I made it:

This is a picture of the supplies I needed (from left to right: awl, R letter stamp, silver Sculpy, and a rolling pin…not pictured was a little circle cutting tool I borrowed from my son’s play doh kit and a little jump ring).

It’s pretty obvious from the picture, but I used my little rolling pin to roll out the Sculpy (a product I don’t use often, but really love it every time I use it) and used the circular play doh tube to cut out the circle. Then I stamped the R on and poked a hole in the top for the jump ring to go through after the tag is baked in the oven according to package instructions. It’s an easy, fun way to customize my dog amigurumi orders!

Here’s a Boston Terrier I made named Muffin! I used the Sculpy to make a muffin for this little dog tag.

I made a Bulldog and a kangaroo as an engagement present for a couple (the two animals were representative of the couple themselves). I gave this dog a heart-shaped dog tag to represent the love it felt for its kangaroo partner.

I love dogs, living or crocheted. Especially both versions of mine.

Have a happy rest of your week, dog-lovers!


Weekend Family Wall Art Project

This weekend the family loaded into the car and headed to Animal Kingdom. It has been nearly two months since we’ve been to Disney World and our passes are going to waste, so I insisted we go despite the 3-day weekend and inevitable crowds. Two hours down I-4 with 45 minutes to go (according to my iPhone), we gave up and got off that god-forsaken road and headed to IKEA. My son might like the IKEA play area more than Disney anyway. Plus, Ben and I have had an art project in mind for a long time and thought this was finally the time to pick up a zillion cheap picture frames for our big, sad, empty walls. If you know me at all, you know I don’t do empty walls.

We came home with various sizes of plain black frames, ready to fill with favorite family moments and maybe some of our own art swirled across the wall like a trail of smoke.

This project idea came about for two reasons:

1. We got our first family piano. The piano was begging for something pretty to be hung over it and I came up with this:

My husband never liked it saying the pictures were “too balanced” (a balance I spent many hours trying to achieve).

2. We came up with this butterfly design for my daughter’s room and liked the effect:

Margot's Nursery

So this weekend, stuck inside because of traffic, rain, and kid’s naps, Ben got to work on this ingenious way of figuring out how to place the approximately 45 picture frames across two big, empty walls and I thought I’d share it.

First, he took a picture of the walls. For the photo, he placed one of each of the picture frame types we purchased standing upright on the piano so they will be to scale within the wall space.  Then he loaded the photos into Photoshop, cut out each frame type, and duplicated each frame to represent the quantity of each we had purchased. Then he was free to move each frame around the image/wall, planning the exact location of each frame for us without ever having to touch a single frame!

It looks and sounds good, in theory. We’ll see if it translates as well with an actual hammer and nail in our hands. I’ll post pictures when the project is finished. It might be a while since we’re still gathering the pictures we want to use. That will be a huge job, too, because I’m a photo-taking fiend and I can’t bear to choose between the thousands I have saved. I blame my children for being so adorable.

Have a happy week ahead, full of your own fun/crazy projects!


DIY Valentine’s Day Doily Bowl

I’m excited to present my first tutorial!! I chose this project  because it is easy, requires just a few, household materials to make, and produces great, reliable results. Plus, this little handmade bowl is perfect for holding the Valentine’s cards your kids collect from school or for holding your own little Valentine’s Day gifts or candies.

I always knew it was Valentine’s Day when the doilies came out of the desk drawer. My Mom had a little stash of them that we never touched until it was time to make our Valentines. She would spread red, pink, and white construction paper, glitter, glue, scissors, and doilies across the dining room table and we’d go to town.

When I made my crocheted Valentine’s Day hearts, I pictured them placed in a little handmade paper bowl and knew I had to try and make one. Then, while rifling through my crazy paper collection, I came across some doilies I didn’t even know I had and knew I had to use them for my project.

I hope you give it a try! If you have any questions, please ask me with a comment!

Step 1. Choose your paper and gather your materials

I used doilies, but any paper will do. I like to use thinner paper because it curves easier around the balloon and I like to see the overlapping layers. Tissue paper is my favorite (any color tissue paper will work and sometimes the colors from tissue paper will bleed together and make a pretty watercolor effect). You could use anything, though! Tear pages from an old book. Use a newspaper. Magazine pages. Even just plain printer paper would be ok.

Other than paper, you’ll need glue, water, a container, a balloon (or a bowl), and vaseline.

Step 2. Tear the paper into little pieces, around 1 or 2 inches  across. 

In my example photo, I cut the doily edges out  before tearing the middle sections because I wanted the edges to be used along the top edges of the bowl. Then I tore those outer rings (pictured) into two inch segments.

Step 3. Prepare your glue/water mixture. 

For this project I used a strange glue product I ordered from Dick Blick a while back when I wanted to do a lot of papier mache. It’s called Elmer’s Paper Mache Art Paste. I ordered it because it said “paper mache” in the title and because it was cheap. It makes a TON of glue that I’ll be using for the rest of my life, I think. That is what the gloopy clear stuff is in the pictured tupperware above. You can use any mixture of glue and water, but I have found that about 3/4 white glue to 1/4 water is a good ratio (or if using a good, thick glue, like elmers you can do 1/2 and 1/2). I also read that you should use less water in humid climates.

Step 4. Rub the bottom of a blown up and tied balloon with the vaseline so your dried paper bowl will release nicely and easily from the balloon’s top (any size balloon will work, but will obviously affect the size of the finished bowl). If you don’t have any balloons, you could use a bowl. Just make sure to use a lot of vaseline.

Step 5. Dip a piece of torn paper in the glue mixture, enough to coat it. Then run the wet torn paper between two fingers to remove some of the excess glue. Then place and smooth down the torn paper onto the balloon top. Repeat this step with all the torn paper, always slightly overlapping each piece so that you don’t end up with any holes in the bowl when it’s finished (unless you want that!). You can add as many layers as you’d like, but probably no more than four layers and not just one layer or your bowl might be too flimsy. If using doilies, though, I’d try to overlap as little as possible if you want the full effect of the lace texture. On my  bowl, I wish I hadn’t overlapped the paper so much so more of those lacy parts had shown through. The way you place the paper onto the balloon dictates the shape and depth of your finished bowl, so keep that in mind as you lay down the paper pieces. Just make sure that all the places you want to cover with paper have been covered in vaseline first.

Step 6. Leave your bowl to dry. I left my balloon propped up outside in the sunshine for several hours until it was completely dry. Once dry, gently lift the bowl up and away from the balloon. If it doesn’t come up easily, either not enough vaseline was used or your bowl hasn’t completely dried yet. You might still feel a little oiliness on the inside of the bowl from the vaseline. You can use a paper towel to wipe that away a bit. You can also pop the balloon as a last resort.

And, voila! You have a handmade Valentine’s Day doily bowl ready to hold all your love letters.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Happy Handmade!

Meet Grayson!

Meet Grayson the Elephant. He may be small in size, but he has a big, happy heart. Easily adaptable to his environment, he would be happy sitting on a shelf in a safari-themed nursery room or sent off to encourage your favorite Republican friend in this crazy election year.

Features: Chunky legs, a snub-nosed trunk, and pose-able ears!

The Very Loose Link Between the Super Bowl and Bumblebees.

This is the first year of my life that I watched the football playoffs. I’m not sure what compelled me to watch them, except that this Orlando Magic basketball season has not been its finest and the shortened and more insane basketball season is wearing on me, so I turned my attention to football a bit, carried away slightly by Tebow mania.  I have never understood football or enjoyed it much, though I usually muddle my way through the Super Bowl each year…at least the end of the Super Bowl as I root for either the underdog or the team with the best looking quarterback/best looking uniform colors. This year, however, I have a vested interest in a Patriots win. If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, I get $5 whole dollars off THIS:

Talk about unbelievadorable. My children need this…the cutest of all backpacks…plus, there’s a matching lunchbox! On a recent trip to Books A Million (BAM!…best nickname!) I spotted this bee and just had to have it. It’s a little pricey, though, so I want my $5 off which I will get with the latest Books A Million promotion. At the register, you predict who will win, they mark your receipt, and if you guessed right, you get $5 off your next purchase. The good news is, the “cool guy” at the cafe said he didn’t care and told us to write which team wins on our coffee receipt, so we definitely get $5 off already. But if the Patriots win we get another WHOLE $5 off for the lunch box. I know…it’s very silly, but I think it’s a more valid reason to root for a team than who has the best uniform (Patriots?) or best looking quarterback (again, I think I’m going with the Patriots on this one!)

In honor of bumblebees and, I suppose, football, here is a picture of my own adorable bumblebee.

I hope to add a bumblebee to my shop soon. I have run out of that yellow shade of yarn and it is no longer sold in stores. That particular yarn saga is a story best left to another post and, believe me, it will be a post very soon. I have experiments brewing!

So, anyway…Go Pats! Though, looking at the photo of that bumblebee backpack, I think it’s going to have to be mine whether the Patriots win or not.

Happy eating, cheering, and commercial-watching everyone!