Monday, February 08, 2010 8:51 PM


Remember when Sophie had her surgery this summer and my mom made us a prayer shawl? She wanted to do something similar for my brother and sister, so for 'Toine's version, she knit him a Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf. But at the same time, little did he know... that I found a pattern for an amigurumi Dalek! Of course I was going to make one for him!

Mine came out a bit like a weeble, but he's very pleased with it (once he stopped laughing). And for those not in the know, what's a Dalek, you ask?

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Sunday, December 20, 2009 10:39 AM

adorable ornaments to make on a snowy day

Yesterday, while the weather outside was frightful, I finished up my ornaments for my CCD class (which of course, got snowed out! But of course, if I hadn't made them, we would have gotten 2 inches). The Nativity ornaments were for my class of Kindergartners and the Angels are for Paul's class of 1st grade girls.

I was inspired for the Nativity ornaments by a craft my twins had made in Mrs. Messina's class last year. They were so simple and so lovely, and I felt like they really captured the essence of what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. The kids painted everything themselves, which made it so much sweeter. These both would be fun to do with kids, letting them personalize and get as creative as they want.

You could paint these any way you like, and if I had more time I would have gotten way more detailed with them (arms on the angels, a star at the top of the "barn", maybe some glitter.... though I did add glitter to baby Jesus. He deserves some glitter!

How to make Nativity ornaments:

Use the hacksaw to trim the legs of Mary and Joseph to height. You can see in the picture at the top that Mary's are cut almost all the way, and Joseph's are slightly longer. You don't want to make them too long or you won't be able to make the top of the triangle close. Baby Jesus is made from cutting one of Mary's discarded pieces of wood in half. Use the sandpaper to smooth all rough edges. Paint all pieces as desired.

When dry, hot glue a bundle of spanish moss to the center of the large popsicle stick, and then add more hot glue and Baby Jesus. Glue Mary and Joseph to either side, making sure first that the other popsicle sticks will be able to meet at the top to make a triangle. Glue both sides of the other sticks to form the triangle, holding them until they set. Turn the triangle upside down to glue the top together. Tie a loop with your twine or ribbon, and personalize. You're done!

How to make Angel ornaments:

Paint a face and hair on your doll pin. When dry, get out your gold paint and paint on a halo and a band around the neck.

For the wings: cut both ends off a large popsicle stick on an angle, so that they form a heart when placed on top of each other. Paint both sides gold. (I also think these would look lovely painted a deep red, or in rainbow colors, or sprayed silver, or... you know. Have fun with it!)

Cut your doily into quarters, and then cut a semi-circle shape out of the top of the pie shape. Put hot glue all around the neck of the doll pin, and place the center of the doily piece in the front under the face. Press and glue all around (doily will overlap in back).

To glue on wings: lay wings on table. Add glue. Press twine/ribbon loop to hang ornament, and then quickly press back of angel on top. Hold until it sets, then let dry flat until it cools.

Merry Christmas!

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Sunday, November 08, 2009 3:28 PM

amigurumi, part two, or, birthday lessons

Looking back over the summer, it's amazing how little I painted and how much I crocheted! I posted earlier about amigurumi and the bunnies I made for the new babies in our circle of friends. This post is about the second wave - my birthday presents. Not presents I got on my birthday, but the presents I gave to my family, on my birthday.

Let me explain.

One of my favorite illustrators is Tomie dePaola, not only for his gorgeous linework, luminous palette, and sense of humor, but also because of how his life and his art are so intertwined. If you are a fan, you know all about his family and heritage because so much of his work contains bits of his life; from his grandparents in "Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs" (I cry every time I read that book), the 26 Fairmount Avenue books, his own love of art and how it was nurtured as a child in "The Art Lesson", and his love of God in countless books, "The Clown of God" being one of my favorites. (And don't even get me started on Strega Nona. She rocks!)

I've been really enjoying Tomie's website where he shows new work but also reminisces about pretty much anything that strikes his fancy. I was struck by this story in particular, where it's his mother's birthday but she begins the tradition of giving to others to celebrate her special day.

"With that simple but magnificent gesture of giving all of us presents on her birthday, Flossie taught us the depth of the old cliché, "It is more blessed to give, than to receive." As the years went by, the real fun of each of our birthdays was not what we would GET, but what WE would GIVE."

The following are the presents I made for my kids for my birthday this summer:

For Peter, a turtle with a rainbow shell.

For Sophie, a finger puppet mushroom.

For Angela, a family of baby birds in a nest....

who went with this mama bird (already made).

Sophie loved her mushroom, but when she saw those baby birds, she just couldn't keep her hands off the tiniest one, and kept trying to sneak it out of the nest and take off with it! So I had to make her another bird, one she called "the teeniest bird of all." And that's the wee bird next to Angela's foot in the top photo.

Patterns for pretty much everything:
* Tiny Turtle
* Baby Birds in a Nest/Teeniest bird of all
* Mama Bird
* Happy Little Mushroom finger puppet

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Friday, February 13, 2009 10:50 AM

Wool you be my valentine?

Rest assured, the traditional Nazzaro kids on the couch Valentine is coming, I just have to get it loaded up. But in the meantime... here's a teeny pic of me and Sophie, holding one of her Valentines. It says "Wool you be my Valentine?" and features a cotton-ball-made lambie and numerous hearts.

Tomorrow we host my sister's bridal shower here - what a lovely way to celebrate my favorite holiday! Happy Valentine's Day!

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Friday, January 02, 2009 1:17 PM

Now showing: no guys, and dolls.

The dolls are done! And are getting played with lots, thank heavens. At last they're finished and sat for their first photo shoot:

Angela's doll's dress is a sundress (under that fluffy lavender sweater) that is modeled after her favorite tie-dyed summertime dress, which naturally is also purple. She got it right away. Angela named her doll Velvet, after Angela's name she uses when we play fairies.

Sophia has named her doll Grace, after her own middle name. Grace's stockings are made from leggings Sophie wore a hole in as a baby, and her jumper is from the leg of embroidered corduroy pants Sophie outgrew long ago.

Peter and his doll refused to pose, but we set up a photo shoot for them anyway. His doll (as yet unnamed, but we're calling him PJ right now) wears jeans made from Paul's old pants. He will have an extremely colorful sweater that borders on being Cosby-esque as soon as I finish knitting it, as Petey loves to wear sweaters and the colors in it look like one of his meticulous drawings. But in the meantime, his doll wears a stripey shirt made from an old onesie of Peter's from back in the day. Good think I never throw anything out, huh?

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008 6:32 PM

small faces

While making all the presents for Christmas has been fun, and rewarding, it's also time consuming. At least the dolls all have hair and faces... now they need some clothes! And while 4 of the 11 paintings are completely done and framed, and 4 more of them in various other states of completion, I can't show any of them yet or the recipients (and their parents) might see them. When my kids' paintings are done, I can post them, as all they're interested in seeing on the computer is YouTube, Cute Overload, and the occasional visit to Flying Pizza Kitty.

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Friday, November 21, 2008 8:41 AM

Take the Handmade Pledge

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

If you didn’t see the “handmade pledge” button last holiday season, here’s your chance to be a part of it for this year. Instead of adding to the commercialism of the season and spending extra money, why not try to make your gifts, or purchase them from those who do?

Why buy handmade?

Buying handmade is better for the environment.

The accumulating environmental effects of mass production are a major cause of global warming and the poisoning of our air, water and soil. Every item you make or purchase from a small-scale independent artist or crafter strikes a small blow to the forces of mass production.

This year, I’ve already told friends and family that if they’d like, I’ll paint a picture of pretty much anything they want for Christmas this year, instead of buying a gift. So far I've had requests for the night sky, Kermit, koalas, soccer balls, and (this could only come from Sophie) "A lamb and a cat, both wearing boots." My kids know also that they will be getting homemade dolls and can pick out some of their clothes as well, and my husband already has asked for a painting with “lots and lots of trees.”

Buying from small businesses and crafters assures artists that they can keep doing the work they do so well. And if you’re lucky enough to be the one doing the creating, you’ll see the joy that comes from making – and giving – a present that’s one of a kind.

♥ Take the Handmade Pledge here.
♥ Check out Etsy for all sorts of simply gorgeous artwork, jewelry, and other homemade items.
♥ Have you taken the Pledge or are you an artist with things to sell? Leave a link in the comments and tell me about it!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008 8:27 PM


Dolls in progress, about to get sewn together, with faces and hair and outfits... in a word, all dolled up.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008 11:20 AM

giving art

I will be taking the handmade pledge this year, which is worth its own post. Last year I was struck by the fact that I was getting ready to sell my work at a craft fair, showcasing my prints as a great Christmas present, when I had already bought all the presents we were giving out this year and wasn't giving any art. I wanted to remedy that.

So this Christmas, I asked everyone we usually gift if they would like an original painting instead, of their very own. As most of them are kids, we've gotten some really interesting replies! I'm so excited to be spending my time making something from my heart for the people I love best. I'll be painting everything from soccer balls to sheep wearing boots!

Meanwhile, if you would like to give artwork this year (or heck, just keep it for yourself), since I haven't set these up in the store yet, I wanted to post these paintings here. If you want one, email me with your info, and leave me a comment here claiming it as your own. One's gone already!

(I should also note, I should be getting in posters any day... here's hoping they turn out well, if they do, I'll post them!)

The sets: three matted prints in a white wooden frame with glass. Images measure 4.675" x 6.675". Entire piece measures 10" x 20". Each piece is $40 (+ $10 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail, Insurance, and Signature Confirmation. )

Framed and matted prints in black wooden frames with plexiglass. Images measure 5" x 7". Each is $15 (+ $5 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail.)

Framed prints in wooden frames with plexiglass. Image area is 5" x 7". Each is $10 + ($5 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail.)

Framed prints in hand-painted wooden frames with plexiglass. Image area is 4" x 6". Each is $8 + ($5 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail.)

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Saturday, November 01, 2008 9:21 AM

boo to you!


I know it's November and all, but I couldn't pass up the chance to post these little ghostie finger puppets I made for the kiddos one night while watching Grey's Anatomy. We're still in Halloween mode here, which is fine with me - I've never been one to rush holidays. In fact, I'm rather annoyed that there are Christmas commercials on NOW, when, as Sally Brown says, "I haven't even finished eating my Halloween candy yet!" One of the main reasons I'm bugged by it is because I am starting to work on Christmas stuff and I like to feel like I'm getting a jump on the competition. :) My goal is to handmake as many things as I can - but more about that later, that's its own post for another day.

Angela, poster child for cuteness.

As stated earlier, I'm going to be posting every single day for the entire month of November. My (rough) theme is The Month of Magical Thinking, where I will make the most succulent and alive choice every chance I get. So far this morning, that meant staying in bed a little longer, reading a book and watching the autumn morning light shine through the maple leaves and turn them golden; choosing a mug with gorgeous Van Gogh purple irises for my morning coffee, chocolate chip pancakes, and a sparkling fairy pin on my long grey belted cardigan. Everyday things hold magic in them. That's one truth I know for sure... will you look for the magic around you today?

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008 9:24 PM

Go ahead, make a fairy!

Angela checks out some fairies having some downtime at Sophie's birthday party.

I haven't had a chance to write about the birthdays (Sophie's, and Peter and Angela's), the RAINBOW birthday party with giggly 5-year-olds, or the twins' birthday party coming up. So here's a start: the craft we did at Sophie's birthday. We made clothespin fairies! Totally fun, doesn't have to make a mess, and easy for little hands to make. And after you've made your fairy, you can go have an adventure together!

You need:
* wooden clothespins (not the kind with the spring!)
* pipe cleaners
* crepe paper (we used streamers, they're the perfect size for dresses)
* waxed paper to cut out for wings
* markers/crayons/paints
* yarn or a toothpick for a wand
* any other fun details - sequins, glitter, flowers

Here are the instructions - and note - Petey's fairy had no dress, and a wand that shot flames! This does not have to be a girly craft, and naturally you can adopt this to make anything your kids want. Print this out and send it with extra supplies to a friend who's home sick from school or lives far away. So go! Have fun! And please, if you make fairies, send me the pictures or post a link to them, we want to see them!

*Note: I have to confess, we had another round of fairy-making this afternoon, and I started two (uh, for me!) with glitter-watercolours. When they're finished we'll take all of them in the backyard and have a photo shoot!

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Monday, October 15, 2007 9:43 PM

chalk = graffiti?

I had to share this story, sent by both my brother and Jill: City calls girl's chalk drawing 'graffiti,' issues $300 warning. My favorite quote is where the mother shrugs (because it got washed away by rain) and she says, "It wasn't her best work."

and now, a crafty update
This weekend I went to the art store where I bought tons of frames, those little brackets that people put dishes on (you know, for one picture) and teeny woven baskets to hold business cards. Either that, or tiny silk bags - one iridescent green, one blue, and one deep red - I may have the cards spilling out of them. What else did I get.... baskets with liners, all different sizes, to put Christmas cards and prints in, and a yard of leaf-green chenille/velvet with huge raised flowers on it, to put across the table for color. Should pick up the colors of the framed 16 x 20 fairy print I plan to have on an easel in front of the table nicely. Slowly but surely... this is starting to come together.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007 8:14 AM


Everyone's birthday's coming up very soon - Sophie at the end of the month (4) and Petey and Angela at the very beginning of March (3). I asked them if they would like me to make them special rag dolls they could dress up and play with, and they got quite excited. Especially when I told them I'd make each doll look like one of them!

So - here's the big question to those of you out there who make toys on a regular basis - what kinds of materials do you recommend? Did you ever make a doll you could throw in the washer? Do you know of any good (free would be lovely) patterns that are not too complicated?

Petey, Sophie, and Angela have colored about 50 photocopies of those dolls now....

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