This article is the first in a series featuring crafts made by members of our community.
Our first Crafter of the Month is Trudy, from King of Prussia, PA. She has been crafting for years, and continues to seek out new creative challenges. A visit to the craft store is a time to be savored, as she walks up and down every aisle in search of her next project. A shopping cart is definitely a prerequisite for this endeavor. There’s always a new product or technique to explore, and countless reasons (or excuses) to create something new. Below is a small sampling of her work.
Traditionally Granny Squares are crocheted with contrasting yarns. This afghan was made with light blue yarn for the centers and navy blue for the perimeters. Both shades were used for the thick fringe. Granny Squares have a dense weave, which produces a heavy weight, very warm blanket. For a more contemporary style, you could make solid squares in several colors, and lay them out in zigzag or checkerboard patterns. Because the squares are made one at a time, this is an easily portable craft, made a few pieces at a time. Before you know it, you’ll have enough to complete your project. Tip: If you enlist the help of a family member, be sure to use the same tension on the yarn so that the finished squares will be of equal size.
Ceramic items range from decorative statues, to beautiful vases, and functional dinnerware and serving pieces. Workshops and studios offer classes for those with beginning and advanced skills, but knowledgeable staff members can quickly cover the basics, without the need for lessons. A wash technique was applied to this beaver’s fur, in which color glaze was first applied to the body using a brush, followed by a clean damp sponge to carefully wipe away the excess paint from the surface, leaving the darker color in all the crevices. This wash technique gives the fur depth and a soft textured appearance. Tip: When cleaning the raw clay, be sure not to scrape or rub too hard with tools or sponges, because it can damage the details or potentially weaken or crack the item. Once it has been fired in a kiln, the clay becomes firm and strong.
A symmetrical design representing the universe is known as a Mandala, and is often used as a focal point for meditation. This example includes elements from the African plains, including giraffes, trees, flowers, and vegetation. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the interlocking pattern of the tree branches mimics the natural patterns in the giraffe’s fur. The light blue seen through the trees becomes the sky and distant horizon. Because the lower body and legs are hidden, the viewer is elevated high above the trees to look directly into the eyes of the giraffes. The lower half of the design mirrors the upper portion, much like the natural water reflection on the surface of their favorite watering hole. The soft palette of these colors is relaxing and closely matches those found in the giraffe’s natural habitat.
Tip: When using colored pencils, it is sometimes difficult to erase mistakes with a standard eraser. Purchase an eraser pencil, which is a pencil filled with an erasing material instead of lead. You can sharpen the eraser pencil to a fine point and use it to remove even the tiniest of marks without damaging the rest of your work. I prefer eraser pencils with a brush at one end to sweep the erasures from the page without the risk of smearing the colors with your hand.
In this Mandala, we are presented with a garden, complete with rabbits, flowers, strawberries, black berries, green leaves, and a moth at the center. The light blue background is reminiscent of the earth itself, and implies movement as the rabbit scampers about the garden for a quick bite to eat. The strawberries and flowers are reaching up toward the sky, while the rabbits hide among the plants, just as they do in nature. The pastel colors contrast with the rich red and blue berries on this perfect spring day. Tip: Color choice is a major part of any work of art. Sometimes going with your intuition produces the most surprising and satisfying results. Trust yourself, and enjoy the creative process.
As with all needlecrafts, there is an amazing variety of stitches and an equally astounding selection of designs. This complex Gazebo landscape design was achieved using colors, shading, varying stitches & yarn types, and architectural geometry to create a three dimensional effect. The moss green velvet matt and golden, wood frame provide a window with a view into a beautiful garden. Tip: As you work with your design, the backing will inevitably become softer and somewhat out of shape. It’s important to have the finished needlepoint blocked to ensure that the stitches are straightened and the design resumes its intended shape.
These dangle earrings consist of green jasper and agate beads in three shapes: rondelles, hearts and twisted coins. Cool, shiny, silver-plated accent beads and shepherd’s hook earwires offset the soft matte gemstones in pastel greens. The natural variations in genuine gemstones make each finished piece of jewelry unique. Tip: Metal beads and findings are susceptible to tarnish. Be sure to store your jewelry with anti-tarnish strips, sealed away in an airtight jewelry box or zip locked plastic bag.