Princess Crowns

 

My daughter’s class celebrated the end of this academic year with a theater production.  It was especially exciting for my daughter because she was chosen for the role of Cinderella.  The play itself was a mix of classic fairy tales with plenty of modern twists, and her character had a snobbish personality.  But that did not bother my daughter.  At last!  The role of a ‘princess’ after having performed several not-so-royal roles in the past, including that of an annoyingly chatty bird and a rat that drowns in a river.

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The day on which Cinderella’s role became hers, she made a sketch of the crown of her dreams and asked me to make it for her.

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To make the Cinderella Crown, I used 0.8mm (20 gauge) stainless steel wire and a variety of beads to decorate a plain headband.

I first made separate wire strands with beads at their ends.  At this point, it is important to leave the loose ends of the wire generously long, as this will allow you to wind them onto the headband later.

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The 0.8mm stainless steel wire is thin enough to be flexible but thick enough to maintain its form once shaped.  I use a few different types of jeweler’s pliers to work with the wire: chain nose, blunt nose, round nose, and diagonal cutters.

When winding the loose ends onto the headband, do so as tightly as you can.  After winding them by hand, press them down against the headband with a pair of blunt nose pliers.

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As shown above, after you are finished, there is quite a bit of wire wrapped around the headband.  I prefer to have the long loose wires wound many times around the headband to ensure that the decorative pieces stay in place.  When you are finished with all the winding, you can trim off any excess wire.

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Even after cutting off the loose wires, their ends can still be pointy.  So, I cover the entire inner edge of the wound wire with a strip of ribbon, which can be glued on with craft glue.

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With her crown, my daughter was quite a happy Cinderella!

Working with wire may seem intimidating at first.  But once you start bending and twisting, the shiny and pretty forms invite you to keep working until you have tamed them into the elegant shapes that they seem to know they deserve.

Here are a few other crowns that I have made for my daughter:

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ButterflyCrown_4338

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To share your own wire crown creations, please visit Muumade’s Gallery.

What’s hiding in the shadows?

 

Searching for the invisible creatures that hide in the shadows is a fun art project for kids and grown-ups.  You simply need a piece of paper, a pencil and an object with an interesting shadow.  But most of all, this detective work requires your keen imagination!

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The first key to finding worthy invisible creatures is to choose an object that offers a shadow with intricate shapes, angles and curves.  For example, I like to use plants.

Place your object on top of a sheet of paper in a location where the object’s shadow is cast.  Trace the shadow with a pencil.

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When the tracing is done,  let your imagination loose!  Study the traced lines carefully until the invisible creatures start to pop out.

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Whenever you capture any invisible creature, draw in its features with a pencil so that it will not escape from you.  Perhaps you may want to add eyes, whiskers, clothing or nostrils.

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Once you have exhausted your Sherlock Holmes’ talent, it is time to have fun by adding colors to all those funny creatures.

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You may or may not see the entire drawing as one object.  I suggest that you go along with whatever materializes before you!  The image above was finished as a large collection of fun creatures.  In its making, my daughter was kept busy for quite some time by a seemingly endless number of characters that would peek out from different corners of the shadow outlines.

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This image, on the other hand, is an example of how the whole shadow was captured as a single object, namely a clown’s face, with various protruding parts in his hair.

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This art project is very different from making your own drawings.  The traced lines create such organic shapes that the hidden creatures are often quite unique and unexpected.  Because the characters materialize before your eyes, you don’t have to stare at a blank sheet of paper while wondering what to draw!

If you would like to extend the fun, creating stories that include your shadow characters would definitely add another interesting dimension to this activity.

To share your shadow art, please visit Muumade’s Gallery.

How much can an eye express?

 

Sharp piercing eyes, warm eyes, absent eyes, angry eyes…. Our eyes express emotion and convey personality.

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But how about the eyes of stuffed animals?  Can a pair of eyes made of felt express anything?

Indeed, I think that they can!  Below are some examples of the effects you can achieve using the same exact pieces of felt.

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Look at this baby-eyed moose.  There is no doubt that it wants a big cuddly hug.

To create these eyes, I placed the black ovals so that they are closer to the middle of the face than the white ones.  Vertically, the black ovals are centered on the white.  A closeup of this eye is shown in the lower right corner of the first photo of this post (the eye chart!).

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In comparison, this horsey made from the same fabric seems perfectly content.  In fact, I think that it looks rather proud of itself for being able to sit up on its own!

For this horsey, I placed the black ovals much lower on the white ovals than those of the moose, so that their bottoms overlap with those of the white.  This eye is shown in the upper middle of the eye chart.

It is surprising how the same felt ovals create entirely different effects when they are positioned slightly differently!

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Here is a timid looking zebra with eyes that are cute but shy.

Its eyes are similar to those of the horsey above.  However, I positioned the black ovals farther down than those of the horsey.  Amazingly, those few millimeters (a few sixteenths of an inch) up or down determine whether the eyes exhibit self confidence or shyness.  You can compare these two eyes more easily in the eye chart, where they appear in the upper middle and upper right corner.

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Here, I added a small pearl bead to each of the zebra’s eyes.  And, ta-da!  The same zebra seems to have livened up with sparkles in its eyes.  I think that these eyes also add an anime-like quality to the stuffed animal.

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Eye lashes also add a lot of personality.  This horsey’s eyes have three short and straight black stitches on the outer edges.  With such lady-like eyes, I call her ‘Miss Horsey’!

I find it fascinating that the same black and white ovals can create such different effects on the stuffed animals made from the same patterns.  When you make one of my Huggable Animals or any other stuffed animal or doll, I hope that this post will help you decide what sort of personality you would like it to have before sewing on its eyes!

Muumade’s Gallery awaits your one-of-a-kind stuffed animals with lots of personality.

Celebrating Mother’s Day!

 

Mothers and motherhood are honored in different ways and on different days around the world.  However, in many places, Mother’s Day is celebrated in May.

So, to applaud mothers everywhere,  all of the items from my online shop, Muumade.etsy.com, are 10% OFF during this month.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

 

 

Stop motion videos made easy!

 

We recently bought a wooden mannequin of the kind that is often on display in artists’ supply shops.  We named him Woody.

Once at home, we wanted to have Woody do something interesting.  So, we decided to make a short video of him doing the Moonwalk.

WoodyMoonwalking

We first took twelve step-by-step photos of Woody dancing.  We then made the above stop motion video from those photos.  Technically speaking we created an animated GIF file, which as you will soon see is really easy to make.

After shooting a sequence of images for your video, you start by using an image editing program to crop all of the photos to the same size while reducing their resolution (each of Woody’s photos in the video are 320 by 220 pixels, approximately 18 KB).  Then you simply combine the photos to make the video.  In our case, we used Gimp to create the GIF.  (Gimp is a free image editing program, which works really well.)  In Gimp, you open all of the photos in order “as layers” and then “export as” a GIF file.  When doing so, Gimp asks you whether you want to save your GIF file as an animation.  You say Yes, and you get your short video.  It is easy as that!

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This is another animation, titled The Muumade March.

The images are a bit grainy because the GIF format only allows the use of 255 separate colors.  But, given that it is a very easy and child friendly way to make stop motion videos, I think that the somewhat less refined images rather match the charm of the homemade videos.

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This video of a blossoming tulip was made from seventeen photos taken twice a day over eight consecutive days.

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When taking the photos, it is important to maintain the same position and zoom of the camera.  As shown in the photo above, I marked the position of the chair on the ground as well as that of the camera on the chair with masking tape.  If possible, you should also try to maintain the same illumination to prevent flickering in your video.

Wouldn’t it be fun to see your child’s favorite toy or stuffed animal in motion?

If you make your own stop motion video, feel free to share it in Muumade’s Gallery!

 

 

 

Miniature Foil Art with Chocolate Wrappers

Miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers

 

Every once in a while, don’t we all indulge ourselves with a taste of some good chocolate?  So, why not enjoy making some miniature foil art with the chocolate’s wrappers at the same time!

Miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers

Here are some tiny foil objects that I made.  The bird on the left is an origami crane, which can be a bit tricky to make given the small size of the foil wrapper.  Much easier are the wine goblet and the bottle, as explained below. 

Miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers

I learned how to make the wine goblet from my mother when I was a child, and it is quite simple.

First, you place your index finger along one edge of the foil, so that the tip of your finger reaches approximately the center of that edge.  Then wrap the foil around your finger to form a cylinder.

Miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers

Next, you start to twist the foil, starting from the tip of your finger and working away from it. This creates the stem of the goblet.

Miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers

To finish, evenly spread the rest of the foil at the end of the stem to form a nice circular base for the goblet.

Miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers

To make thinner glasses and bottles, like the ones shown above, I use pencils, chopsticks, skewers and other thin cylindrical objects instead of my index finger.

Would you like some Champagne with your chocolate?

Miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers

However, what I like best with chocolate is a cup of tea.  So, I also made a tiny tea set!

For more miniature foil art inspirations, Roman Ondák’s “Passage” (2004) is an impressive arrangement of tiny foil objects made from chocolate foil wrappers.

Part of the fun of making miniature foil art with chocolate wrappers is the challenge of working with very thin, small and used foil.  But, you can also use larger pieces of aluminum foil to create foil objects.  And while you have the aluminum foil out, another fun art project is foil embossing, which is an easy way to create two-dimensional foil art.

If you would like to share images of your tiny foil objects from chocolate wrappers, please feel free to submit them to Muumade’s Gallery!

(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 15, 2015, and has since been updated with new content.)

Decorating Easter Eggs

 

In our household, the coming of Easter means that it is time to prepare eggs for decorating!  We empty the egg shells the traditional way, by blowing.  It is a bit dizzying and messy, but it is the kind of fun that goes hand in hand with the season!

First, we briskly shake each egg.  The purpose of this somewhat violent activity is to break the yolk inside the shell and thereby to make it easier to empty the egg.

Then, using a pin, we make a small hole at the top and another at the bottom of each egg.  Next, we enlarge the holes a bit with a skewer.  Do not despair if the shell cracks a little bit, because it will be okay.

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Now, it is time to blow, blow and blow!

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Once the eggs are empty, we rinse them and let them dry.

When we are ready to decorate the eggs, we get out our supply box.

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Instead of painting or dyeing the eggs, we use tissue paper, fabric scraps, and whatever else that we find in our supply box to decorate them.

Rip, cut, tear… the scraps into small pieces.  Then use glue to decorate your egg with them.  A tip: Cut a toilet paper roll into thirds and use these paper rings as egg stands while decorating the eggs!

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Finish your holiday decoration with pompoms, googly eyes, feathers, etc.

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When done, we glue on a base so that the eggs will stand (a piece of foam, a ring of paper, cork, etc.).  My daughter’s Señor Rabbit had a rather heavy hat, so she perched him on an empty plastic bobbin and then transformed it into a magician’s platform!

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Ta-da!

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Happy Easter!  Happy crafting!

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