Hand Painted Umbrellas

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Good morning and happy Wednesday! Here in NC, it’s been raining off and on for almost a week now. While I love a good rainy day, my yard is squishy, my plants are overgrown, and the dogs are bouncing on the walls. Since neither one likes wet grass, I’m having to pry their paws and nails off of the doorframe and toss their furry butts off of the porch. I had to run some errands yesterday, and realized my favorite umbrella is wearing out. I’ve decided to try my hand at embellishing a plain umbrella I have, so I’ve been looking at tutorials on how to do it. I found this one I’m linking to below that looks perfect for a tracing style, as it’s a heat set design. I think a good water color style would work nicely with the directions. It’s on the Instructables website.

If you don’t want to paint your new umbrella yourself, there are a number of lovely ones I have found on Etsy. Cassa Raptor Creations offers this lovely one.

And ArtUmbrella has some stunning designs as well.

Whatever your umbrella style is, I hope you keep dry and happy today!

 


Displaying your jewelry designs

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Good morning all. This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. My summer season has started with a great bang, and for those of you who also make jewelry, I’m sure you think about how best to display the unique pieces you craft. Whether it is at home or at a show, it can be tricky to come up with ways that show your pieces to their best advantage, and let others know how unique your things are. I’ve found some excellent craftsmen on Etsy that make some excellent displays, ship, and are happy to customize them.

WhatWeMade is based in Arizona, and has some unique designs. Their necklace bust is gorgeous, wooden, and striking with any silver pieces you have.

DalesWoodandMore has a lovely wall unit that would be great for personal collections, or hanging on grid for a nice table display.

If you want to go more metal, BlackIronIndustrial has some unique shelving and bar selections.

I also love this wonderful travel case from Canoa Naturals

It is versatile and pretty. If looking to make your own display, there are a number of tutorials out there to make it a snap for any crafty person!


 


Summer Sweetness

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My favorite time of year is strawberry season. I live in North Carolina, when they are in season at the end of April through May and the beginning of June. There is nothing I like better than all the yummy things I can make from them. Strawberry pie, shortcake, muffins, Strawberry juice, and jams. There is a farm nearby where I go to pick them by the pound, and bring them home. Some get eaten immediately, some get canned or frozen.

If you like strawberry jam, its one of the easiest recipes to make, and requires very few supplies. My favorite recipe can be found here:

https://www.freshpreserving.com/strawberry-jam-%7C-making-strawberry-jam-%7C-ball-fresh-preserving-br1265.html

Once you make it, and it sits overnight, its perfect on biscuits, added to the filling of a cake, added to marscapone in some winter crepes, and even on top of goat cheese with some lovely wheat crackers. Its light and summer sweet, and the perfect way to introduce yourself to canning. There are other recipes, including for freezer jam and without pectin, but I rarely have extra freezer room and I find that typical canning methods preserve the jam longer.

If you don’t have a farm nearby, check out your local farmer’s market, Whole Foods or even Food Club. Smell the berries, and check for any bruising or mold. The recipe calls for five cups of crushed berries, which means you will need more whole berries as they condense down. Make it a family event, as children or parents can come and help, and everyone goes home with jam!


Hickory ComicCon

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. This coming weekend, you can find my things at a local show in North Carolina, Hickory ComicCon. It’s June3rd, in Hickory, NC. I and a number of other artists and vendors will be set up at this event at the Hickory Metro and Convention Center from 10-5. You can find the event information here.

They offer a costume contest, comic book grading, and the 501st Legion will be there are well. This show offers an opportunity to stick your toes in and try out a smaller event, and see if you like them. North Carolina offers a number of one day events like this each year, including Shelby ComicCon, Statesville, Greenville, and one in Marion, NC. They offer a relaxed environment, the opportunity to network with other local geeks, and gaming!

I will have my small setup here, but some really cool new designs and pieces.

*Photo taken from Hickory ComicCon’s event page.

 

 



Bringing Nature Indoors

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. I hope everyone has had a fun week so far. It is now May, and summer seems like it is fast approaching. As much as I love this gorgeous weather here, I like to keep the wildlife outside. Sometimes I think some of it is so beautiful that I would love it as jewelry.

Illuminated Leather on Etsy makes the most realistic and marvelous Butterfly and Moth jewelry. Her pieces are primarily earrings, brooches and necklaces from thin, molded leather.

Each piece is carefully researched, painted in acrylics, and one of a kind with amazing detail. You can find her work on Etsy here.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/IlluminatedLeather?ref=pr_faveshops

 


Adding whimsy to cosplay

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Happy Wednesday! I am here in Chicago this week, prepping and waiting for C2E2 to start. If you are attending the show, I can be found in Booth 273, along with Blacky Cat Creations. My friend and I have been checking out some local museums, landmarks and amazing food. I love to cosplay when I vend at shows. Even though I work with polymer clay, sometimes I see accessories I love but someone else makes really well.

Prism Moon Designs on Etsy makes amazing horns, antlers, antennae, and alien pieces.

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Beautifully crafted with amazing detail, her work shines brightly in a sea of clay. Her prices are reasonable, and she does take custom orders.

 

Her work can be found here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/prismmoon


Indiana ComicCon is coming up!

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Good day and happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. This week I’ve been on supersonic prep for two shows I have coming up. This is my second year at both events, and they are two of my favorite ones!

This weekend you can find me at Indiana ComicCon, which is April 14-16. They are featuring some amazing guests, including Val Kilmer, Cary Elwes, Nichelle Nichols and Jewel Staite. More details of the show can be found here.

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Cookie Ring Tutorial

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Hi there and happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. I wanted to share this quick and simple project with you. It’s a cookie ring, using polymer clay for the cookies.

What you’ll need for this project is:

  • Premo clay in ecru and burnt sienna
  • an adjustable ring base of your choice.
  • A straight blade. You can use a knife, a tissue blade, or whatever you are comfortable with.
  • Somethjng for texture, either a texture mold or even some wrinkled up foil.
  • A miniature plate. You can check the miniature section of your hobby store, or even a toy store. It need to be oven safe to 275 degrees F.
  • Adhesive.

Steps:

  • Condition your clay by kneading it. Separate out three pea sized balls of ecru clay.
  • Flatten the balls, leaving them a little rounded like real cookies would be after baking.
  • Using your texture stamp or crumpled foil, add some texture to the cookies. 
  • Make some very tiny balls of your sienna clay. These are your chocolate chips. Randomly place them on your cookies, flattening the balls as you place them. 
  • Optional- add some bronze pearlX powder to simulate baking color. You can also do an acrylic wash with brown after baking instead.
  • Using adhesive, attach the cookies to the plate and bake in your oven. Premo bakes in an oven at 275 degrees F, and I would bake your plate for 30 minutes. After cooling, it can be attached using the same adhesive to your ring base.

If you don’t like rings, it can be done as a pendant, or even earrings.


Crafting-when inspiration doesn’t hit

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Every now and then, in the crafting and art world, you want to create, but can’t. You feel blocked, and no idea you have sounds appealing. What do you do? Here are a few tips to help get you past the cobweb feeling of being ‘craft blocked.’

  • Go for a brief, brisk walk, dance around the room, or basic stretches. Sometimes a little adrenaline can reset your brain and help you think more clearly.

  • Turn on some music, an inspiring movie or audio book.
  • Try a different creative endeavor. Bake a batch of cookies, make a pot of soup, plant some herbs or flowers.

  • Call or text a friend. Sometimes a brief chat can help relax us, allowing us to get new ideas.
  • Look to online sites for inspiration: Pinterest, Instagram and multiple crafting blogs can help you decide what to start next.

Crafting should be fun, and help you feel creative and fulfilled. Hopefully the above suggestions can help you continue on your creative path!