Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Sloths in Love

There's a whole lotta sloth love out there; even before the sloth in Equador that had to be rescued by police from a motorway crash barrier, and before Neil the Sofa Sloth appeared on UK TV screens, sloths appealed to people for their sort of cute oddness.

I first put my needle felted sloth up for sale on Etsy back in February 2014, and both he and the cards and notebooks featuring his image have proved fairly popular ever since.

So, what could people fall in love with more than a cute, fuzzy, felted sloth? Why, two cute, fuzzy, felted sloths of course! I decided that a wedding cake topper version of my sloth with 'I Love You' banner was most certainly in order.

The sloths themselves are a little smaller than the original, but are otherwise pretty much the same, with the addition of a ribbon bow-tie to distinguish the groom and the bride wears a veil with a little bit of glitz in the form of three crystals. They sit on a circular plywood base, covered in lace and finished with a little taupe ribbon. For the banner, the most obvious choice to me was to personalise it with the names of the couple getting married, but like most of my designs, this can be  customised to your taste if you prefer something a little less obvious! The text comes in a choice of 12 different hand-stamped fonts.

The colours can also be customised to tie in with your own wedding decor if you wish too, as you can see, this customer ordered hers in a lovely dusky pink, instead of the red in the original listing.

Mr and Mrs Sloth (who are also equally as happy to be provided as a Mr and Mr or Mrs and Mrs Sloth!) are available made to order in my Etsy shop.

Scooting over to Handmade Monday for the first time in aaaaaaaages too!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Perfect Match

One of the things I like most about handmade is how completely unique, individual and just plain weird it can be. You don't have to be constrained by the things the fashionistas are telling you that you should like, you don't have to have your taste defined for you, you have the capacity to own something that is completely, utterly and undeniably you, however peculiar you may be.

I think handmade really comes into its own for alternative weddings- when two weird worlds collide in a crazy collaborative union of oddness! If your partner is madly into film noir, baked beans and warthogs, and you have quite a penchant for manatees, hula dancing and all things electric blue; the chances are you probably won't find something that represents both of you, or let's face it; either of you, on a shelf in a shop anywhere, let alone something like that but wedding themed. That's when custom, bespoke handmade artists come into their own- 'Why yes, of course I can make you a cake topper featuring a warthog in a trilby and trench coat, hula dancing with an electric blue manatee on top of a tower of baked bean tins. No, that won't be a problem at all'.

I love a custom commission anyway, but a wedding cake topper custom commission, well- that makes me feel really rather honoured.

It can be tricky to decide what unique and unusual things to adorn your cake with; we're so used to the conventions of a bride and groom figure, or a floral flurry on top of our cakes, that it's sometimes not the easiest thing to know what else to use. I wanted to make a couple of toppers that I knew would probably have a rather niche market, and I turned, as I often do, to my love of a cheesy pun for inspiration.

My favourite design I came up with was my 'Perfect Match' cake topper. There's something about a matchbox that I just like. It has that kind of warm, nostalgic feeling that I also get from other little boxes and tins, buttons, ribbons and marbles- maybe it's a childhood treasures thing?

My matchbox features a pink and blue match, which can easily be customised to the colours of your choice if that's too much of a gender stereotype for you (although I didn't actually say which match is the boy and which is the girl ;P )

 The box features a flaming heart design in a style that gives a gentle nod to vintage matchboxes, but is just a little punchier in colour. The box can also be personalised with the addition of the couples' names in the heart if desired.

Despite me thinking that these little matches might be a bit of a niche oddity, and perhaps not going to be to most peoples' taste, they have so far proven to be my best seller of all of my wedding cake toppers! They are fairly inexpensive at only £35 plus postage and packing, so for Alternative Weddings on a pretty tight budget, but still wanting something fun and unique; this topper does indeed seem to be the Perfect Match!

The Perfect Match is available in my Etsy shop, along with the other unusual Wedding Cake Toppers in my A Love Less Ordinary collection, or for bespoke custom commissions you can fill out my form or click through a custom order request in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Gingerbread Wedding

Like most crafters, much of what I enjoyed about my own wedding was the preparation. I loved the DIY- making our invitations, table decorations, favours, and decorating all of the cakes we had. But my singular regret about my wedding is that I did not make anything to go on top of our wedding cake. I just ran out of time. Now whenever I see photographs of our wedding cake I just feel frustrated. I'm even slightly tempted to just Photoshop something onto the photos of the cake just to stop feeling irritated by it!

I'm pleased to say that I've discovered a way to atone for that horrible sin of not making my own wedding cake topper, and to live vicariously through others. I think I might be growing something of an addiction for making bespoke wedding cake toppers! Fueling my burgeoning compulsion is That Alternative Wedding Fair. It's a weekend wedding fair at Fargo Village on 19th and 20th September, aimed at brides and grooms to be who are looking for something a little bit different and unusual for their big day. My mind and fingers have recently been very much occupied with devining, designing and realising some quirky little cake adornments that you just won't find, well, anywhere else!

Over my next few posts I'll be sharing some of my new pieces with you, and a little insight into how they came about too. The first piece I'm going to share is my Gingerbread Kitsch cake topper.

One of my favourite Christmas products that I make for sale is my gingerbread men tree decorations. I just think there is something so friendly about a gingerbread man! I decided that a gingerbread couple would be very cute for a cake topper. The original idea was supposed to include text to look like piped icing that said: 'Made for Each Other', but in the end I decided to go without any text.

I had lots of fun trying to create familiar cake decorations in polymer clay. I soon realised that creating sprinkles one at a time was really not worth the effort! In the end the method I used was to roll out thin strands of polymer clay, bake them first and then cut them. This way the clay doesn't squash as you cut, and you can cut a few different colour strands at once. Jelly diamonds are particularly easy and effective. I mixed up some colours of clay with a high proportion of translucent clay, cut out the diamonds with a plunger cutter and gave them a little coating of liquid clay before sprinkling with fake sugar. My favourite fake sugar is the tiny glass micro beads, but you can also use white craft sand. Once baked I glaze with Fimo semi-gloss varnish, this helps keep the 'sugar' in place but also brings out the translucency.

Initially I went with violet and cerise accessories on my bride and groom, but these looked much too strong once I mounted them on their kitsch pastel base, so I painted over them in baby pink and lilac.

I'm hoping to also create a Christmas wedding version of this topper in red and white candy stripes in the future, as gingerbread is so quintessentially Christmassy!

In celebration of my first wedding fair I'm inviting visitors to the fair the opportunity to win the Gingerbread cake topper. Anybody popping by my stall can pick up a card with details on how to enter. To book your free tickets for That Alternative Wedding Fair all you need to do is register your details here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/that-alternative-wedding-fair-autumn-2015-tickets-16766805968

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Holy Moley!

Every so often I just get the urge to make a particular animal, some image of some little character pops into my head and I just feel like they need to be realised in felt. Whilst making hamsters I had noticed that as they are being felted, before I start to sculpt the head properly, they look a little mole-like. I have always rather loved the velvety, snuffly, shovel-handed little critters and it made me think that a felt mole might be rather cute... a felt mole wearing Wellington boots.... obviously!

I definitely wanted to try to replicate those funny digging hands that moles have, so I made nice big fingers with polymer clay claws and wrapped then with pink cotton thread. The wellies I also sculpted from polymer clay.

The felting actually took two attempts to get just the right head shape. The first head was to severe and pointy looking, and I couldn't get the eyes right. The great thing about felting though, is that if it's not worked you can just felt a new face on top! This time I went for a chubbier face and no eyes- just cute smiley impressions where the eyes would be. This worked much better, and he's a far more charming looking chap.

The finishing touches were just to add a little red plaid neckerchief for a splash of colour, and sculpt some tiny forget-me-nots from polymer clay and add them to a little plant pot for Mr Mole to hold in his impressive hand!

 Mr Mole is now available in my Etsy shop.

I will joining in with Handmade Monday again this week.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Pushing the Right Buttons

It's Happy Friday Time again! The day of the week when I join in with Planet Penny's Happy Friday link-up and talk about the little things that have made me happy this week.

I think one thing that makes the vast majority of crafters happy is buttons. I don't know quite what it is about them, the sizes, the shapes, the multitude of colours, but buttons are just a cheerful little object. I don't think I've ever come across a miserable button! Even the word button sounds like a happy little word to me.

I couldn't resist buying some tiny little 6mm buttons from berrynicecrafts on Etsy who has a rather lovely range of buttons in her shop. My intention is to use them on some of my felted models, but also as part of the design on some little notebooks too (admittedly I mainly bought them because they are super cute and tiny...not really because I have a plan for them!)

I have also had fun this week making more of my fabric covered button jewellery. I thought it might be nice to show the process, so here is a quick tutorial:

How to make a fabric covered button

You will need:

-Cover button blanks the size and style of your choice (they come in various sizes and either flat backed or button backed, you can also find them in metal or plastic versions)*

-A cover button tool*

*You can find both buttons and tools on eBay, or Blooming Felt is very good if you only want small quantities of buttons.

-Fabric of your choice.
I print my own designs on washable cotton from Crafty Computer Paper- but this makes the whole process a little more complicated.

1. Whether you are using fabric or your own design you will need to ensure that the part of the design you want to feature on the button fits in the centre, with enough bleed to also cover the sides of your button, and enough excess fabric to hold securely under the button back. You will usually need around 5mm extra all the way around your design, but I tend to find my tiny buttons seem a little deeper and need a little more excess than you might expect!

2. If using inkjet printable cotton, print your designs out- follow the instructions on the product for the best results. Cut circles of the desired size out of your fabric. If using the printable cotton remove the paper backing from your circles.

3. Place the clear 'cup' part of the cover button tool over your circle, as centrally as possible.

4. Carefully pick up the tool and fabric together, trying to keep the fabric in the same position (sliding it off the edge of a table works best for me) and press on top of the domed face of your cover button. You should be able to just about see where the design will sit on the button through the cover button tool. If it is not right, take it out and try again at this point, but be wary the fabric may become stretched if you do this too many times.

5. When you are happy with the position of your design, turn the cover button tool with the fabric and button top over so that the cover button tool sits on the desk with the fabric and button top on top. Press the button into the cover button tool.

6. Fold the fabric into the centre of the button, place your button back on top and use the 'plunger' part of your cover button tool to snap the back into place. I like to use a piece of wood to help me push down the plunger if I'm making small buttons or more than a couple of buttons, as all that pressure on your fingers can cause nasty blisters!

7. Pop the buttons out of the cover button tool by pushing the cover button tool as if you were going to turn it inside out.

If you are using the flat back cover buttons you can glue on earring posts, clutch pins, hairgrips or cufflink blanks as desired. I scratch a cross hatch pattern into the back of my buttons with a scalpel for better adhesion, and use a two part epoxy glue to stick them together.

Here are some of my newest designs:

Cute as a Button
Bunny Earrings

Panda Earrings

Pirate Earrings

Doll Face Earrings

You can find my Cute as a Button range in my Etsy shop.
I'm also joining in with Handmade Monday.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Getting Poetic

I'm going to deviate a little from my normal craft related post today, and share a little bit of my poetic side with you. I'm also joining in with Planet Penny's Happy Friday, which might seem a little strange with the subject matter that follows, but for me this was all about finding a little hope and happiness in the sadness. I'll also be joining inn with Handmade Monday, as while there's no crafting in this post I think the creative process of writing still counts!

I don't profess to be a good poet, or even a passable one to be honest, but never the less I have always enjoyed words and writing, despite not being much of a literary luminary. When I was around eleven or twelve I used to take a notebook to school with me, and would sit on my own in the classroom scribbling my piteous little verses, switched off to the rest of the world and the typically teen antics of my fellow classmates. Needless to say, I was not a popular kid!

Nowadays I don't often get the chance to write much (apart from listing descriptions and my sporadic blog posts, obviously!) and I probably have matured into being a little more reserved about sharing my amateurish attempts! However, last October my Granddad died, and my sister and I were trying to help to find something suitable to be read at the funeral. We knew that although it was a sad occasion, my Grandma just isn't the morbid, lamenting type, and she would want something with a little bit of hope and light in there too. It was quite surprising, after trawling the internet for days, to find little to nothing suitable. Everything was doom and gloom; sadness and sorrow. The only poem we could find, which had a little more of an upbeat feel was 'She Is Gone' which we obviously changed to 'He Is Gone' and this ended up being read at the funeral.

I don't know if it was spurred on by trying and failing to find something suitably poignant, or whether it was just how I was feeling, particularly as how my Grandma would be feeling was on my mind, but (apologies for the cheesy and terrible cliche) I just felt moved to write something.

The words came strangely quickly, and I'd scribbled it all out in less than half an hour...which possibly you can tell! It isn't well written, it lacks form, it's amateurish and it seems perhaps I haven't really moved on from my clunky teenage style. I do feel like it got across a feeling though, and has that little element of hope despite the sadness that we just didn't find in the other poems we read. So I decided to share it, just in case there is someone else out there, who has lost a loved one, and wants some imperfect but heartfelt words to use at their funeral:


I thought I heard you whisper,
But it was only rustling leaves.
I thought I heard your soft sigh,
But it was just the wind that grieves.
I thought I heard your laughter
In a little child's delight.
I thought I saw your smile
In reflections of sunlight.
I felt your arms around me,
When I turned you were not there
And the thought of 'you no longer'
Was a thought too hard to bear.
So I closed my eyes and searched for you,
I listened and I heard
The faintest echo of your voice in the sweet song of a bird.

Now I know I heard your whisper
In the rustling of the leaves.
And I know I heard your soft sigh
In the blowing wind that grieves.
I know it was your laughter
In that little child's delight
And I know I saw your bright smile
In the sparkling sunlight.
You may not walk beside me
Ever since we had to part
But I know you walk within me
For you live inside my heart.

Jenny Egerton 2014

Friday, 27 March 2015

Making the Biscuit

A couple of months ago I received a rather interesting request from a fellow team member of the Craft Britannia Etsy Team; Zoe of Cogzspot Woolly Things.

One of Zoe's best sellers are her Mug Hugs which come with a pocket to keep a biscuit inside. The trouble that she was having, which I can relate to having sometimes used edible photo props myself, is that every time she needs to photograph her mug hug she has to buy a new packet of biscuits, as the rest of the packet tend to get scoffed between photo shoots!

Photograph Copyright of Cogzspot
Zoe had decided that what she really needed was an inedible biscuit, and having seen my Konditorei Komisch range, she thought I might be just the girl to help!

So Zoe commissioned me to make her an actual size polymer clay digestive biscuit, as true to life as possible. I'll admit, I was slightly daunted, I don't normally make things realistically sized, and though lots of people have said my cakes look realistic, I can hide behind the silly expressions I put on them, so they don't need to be absolutely perfect! I'm a girl that likes a challenge though, and I was fairly certain I could do it, so I agreed and gave it a try.

It did of course mean that I had to purchase a packet of digestives myself, for reference, and to attempt to keep my biscuit-loving husband and daughter from devouring all of them. The biscuit shape, I decided to just sculpt by hand from a ball of pale cream/biscuit coloured cernit. Then I used my needle and ball tools to push in holes and sculpt in the text detail. I added texture, particularly to the edges with my needle tool, you could also use scrunched up foil for this, but I managed to acheive what I wanted with the needle. The whole thing was finished with a dusting of various brown, flesh and yellow shades of soft pastel, concentrating darker browns towards the edges for that baked look, and also to bring out the text.

Not too bad a likeness- I just hope nobody tries to eat it!

Biscuits and Custom Commissions both make me happy, so I'll be linking up with Planet Penny's Happy Friday this week

And also with Handmade Monday over on Lucy Blossom Crafts