Thing-A-Day 14 & 15: Custom Vinyl Toy

I know I didn’t post a separate thing for yesterday but that’s because I spent both days this weekend (and many others beforehand) finishing up my Yoka bear for the DKE traveling Custom Yoka show.  I made new things for it each day, so I think it still falls within the bounds of my commitment.  If you’ll recall, my initial string-art-turned-embroidery idea didn’t quite work out because the toy was too small to puncture or sew, so I sketched up a feathered griffin idea instead:

I basically stuck to this plan but I turned his arms into the wings and changed the colors a bit.  Here’s how he turned out:

I’ll take better photos when I have some time during daylight hours (I started a part-time day-job so that’s been tough) but I wanted to give you a sense of the process in the meantime.  First I made him a polymer clay beak and little claws (I used gold).  After baking I attached them with a two-part super glue for plastics from Loctite which worked extremely well.

Next I made him two polymer clay eyes (using white clay), which I fired, glued and painted in three colors using acrylics.  He looks cute and doe-eyed here, but watch out!

Next I used more polymer clay to make angry eyelids.  They flattened out a bit when I baked them, but they were so thin that I was able to bend them back into shape while gluing them.

While I was waiting for his eyelids to cook, I wrapped his arms in wire to make bendable wireframe wings.

I glued some felt on top of the wire so the feathers would have a base.  When it was dry I trimmed the excess (not pictured).

Next I cut out a million tiny felt feathers.  Mostly I used a teardrop-shaped hole punch that works on fabric — sort of.  It punched through the felt most of the way but every piece was still attached by a little piece at the bottom that I had to snip off with fabric scissors.

One by one I glued the feathers on his body.  I started with his feet and his belly.

I also glued little felt pads for the bottom of his feet.  They look white here because I overexposed the shot, but they’re really the same blue as the feathers on his belly.

I also added a tail, which is just 22-gauge wire wrapped in felt.  I poked a hole in his backside for it but I didn’t glue it in until the end, after I’d trimmed it.  By the end of the day on Saturday, his body was finished.  I cut a few feathers in half for the tufts on his “ears.”

Sunday was mostly spent on his wings.  The long feathers I cut out by hand.  I cut a bunch of skinny triangles from one long strip of felt, then rounded off the ends with my fabric scissors.  Ta-da!

I made everything so that his joints all still move. His wings are also bendable so you can fold them at his sides, make him take off, or have him swoop in for a landing.

Your instruction for today is: customize a small toy to make it way cooler than the original.  You can customize a blank vinyl toy (or even a roll-on deodorant), pick up an action figure at the thrift store, or turn that old carnival teddy bear into something way more bad-ass.

Your inspiration for today comes from a few of the other artists in the traveling Yoka show.  Some people painted…

Some people felted…

…some people sculpted…

…and some people covered.

Some people had more ideas than time.

Thing-A-Day 13: Schnitzels

Ever since I was a wee bairn, I have loved making schnitzels.  No, not that kind of schnitzel (though you all know about my affinity for meat). I’m talking about teeny tiny paper and fabric bits.

For example, one of my favorite projects ever was this Paper-Aid recreation of Van Gogh’s “White Roses.”  I started it in college for an art class, but I didn’t finish it until more than two years later.  This image is pretty much actual size (the finished piece is 4” x 6”).

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may also remember the credit card wreath I created in which every leaf was made up of 7-9 individually cut, punched and wired pieces.  Yesterday I made a pile of little felt schnitzels with a hole punch and scissors.  I’d been gluing them steadily onto an ongoing project (of which I will post progress photos when I’m finished) when A. walked in and exclaimed, “My God!  You’re building a bird literally one feather at a time!”  Bliss.

Your instruction for today is: make some colorful schnitzels.  You don’t have to make them into anything, just create a lovely little pile and revel in it.

Thing-A-Day #12: Show Some Gratitude

Finally managed to print those tanks cards today.  The print areas were so large that they turned out with a little bit of distress but I really like what it adds to the image.  It makes it look more military-industrial complex with a hint of hand-printed propaganda.  Sweet.  (**Update: They’re up in the shop now.)

Today’s instruction: make something that shows gratitude.

Your inspiration for today comes from Jeff Rudell’s ingenious client-getting nutshell book.  Enjoy and be thankful.

Thing-A-Day 9: Love Notes

Today I printed 112 “I love you…even more than bacon” cards for Valentine’s Day.  I’ve made these before, but this time I decided to try them at a smaller size which required burning a whole new screen.  I also tried a new rougher, recycled brown bag paper.  I wish they were a bit sturdier, but I like the more “rustic” feel they have now.  After all, bacon ultimately comes from the farm, right?

I’ve finally managed to get the process down so that I can afford to wholesale these now, so I may approach some local vendors this week about consigning.  If you’d like one for yourself, they’re available in the Sweet Meats Etsy Shop.

Today’s instruction is: make a personal, handcrafted valentine for someone you love.

Your inspiration for today is this embroidered love note on looseleaf “paper.”  There are many examples of these on the web, but I like how this one also shows gratitude. By Flickr use kristenaderrick.

Thing-A-Day 5: Food Stencils

Last night A. made mint chocolate brownies and they were delicious.  I wanted to somehow indicate that they were not just regular brownies, so I thought I’d make a little mint leaf stencil and dust through it with powdered sugar.  Well, the stencil came out looking more like a feather

and I forgot to dust it with sifted powdered sugar, so it didn’t really work, but this is how I learn to remember such things in the future.  “Tuition in the school of life,” as my mother likes to say.  It was still yummy.

Today’s instruction: make a stencil and decorate a piece of food with it.  Your inspiration and tutorial for today come from Jessica at How About Orange, who shows you how to make a reusable (and dishwasher safe) food/coffee stencil.  Enjoy!

Tip: it is easiest to stencil smooth surfaces, so there’s no space for your powder to get under the stencil. In my case that meant stenciling the bottom of the brownie rather than the top, which was quite lumpy.

Thing-A-Day 4: Monograms

I’ve been working on a lot of logos with initials today.  I’ve been working on logo-type monograms of my own initials, and also a logo for a conference.  Here are my favorite examples of each as of right now:

Now, of course, I think I’m going to go in a completely different direction.  Type is definitely my achilles’ heel.

Today’s inspiration and tutorial come from Jessica Hische, who has a great little cheat sheet on ways to get creative with letterforms.

Today’s instruction is: create a monogram or logo out of initials using any material you want to.

Thing-A-Day 3: Drawn and Quartered

Tonight I got back from working in Palo Alto at around 9:30.  I’ve been working or driving non-stop since 7am and I am BEAT.  I only had enough energy to make this piece:

It’s my original tank sketch, cut up into its individual components and arranged in a new formation.  I glued about half the pieces down where they landed when I shook them out of their envelope (so. very. tired.). It looked vaguely like a pirate ship, so I steered the rest of the collage in that general direction. It’s very mechanical looking and a little creepy, like it could live on the Island of Misfit Toys.

So today’s instruction is: Cut up an old drawing and create a collage by rearranging the pieces.

Your own past work is your inspiration today, and this project requires no tutorials.