Jul 30, 2014

Fur, Feathers & Scales - African Pancake Tortoise

Have you ever heard of a pancake tortoise?  I'm convinced they might be the cutest creature with scales.  These are not reptiles that I work with directly, like this lizard or this turtle, but my friend and coworker, Craig Hunter, does work with them.  Craig is our zoo's knowledgeable reptile and amphibian keeper.  He is also a talented photographer who shot all of these photos for us! 
Our zoo has four African pancake tortoises (not currently on exhibit), and they are the neatest things.  If you've ever held a tortoise or turtle, you know that they have hard, solid shells.  Pancake tortoises actually have flexible shells.  It's such a strange sensation to hold these tortoises and be able to feel them breathe--I was amazed!  Their shells are not solid, but have small openings between the underlying bony plates, allowing them to flatten slightly as they squeeze under rocks and into small crevices for protection.  In fact, rather than retreating into their shells, they will quickly run to find shelter to evade danger.

African pancake tortoises are pretty great climbers, and are considered to be the fastest tortoise. Their lighter, more flexible shell likely contributes to their speed.  They are found throughout Kenya and Tanzania and eat only vegetation.   

Because these tortoises are so flat, females usually only produce and lay one egg at a time, every six weeks during mating season.  Because of their low reproductive rate and collection for the pet trade, wild populations of African pancake tortoises are declining.  You can help them out by not ever buying one as a pet.

Aren't they great?!

You can check out more of Craig's photography on facebook, and be sure to follow him on instagram, too (@moriarty1984).

Jul 27, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 30

Well, the weekend is halfway over, and my to-do list for the Strawberry Swing next weekend has shrunken only a little. I'm hoping for another productive day today, but my bum and back hurt from sitting in this chair for so long. Thank goodness for my foam roller--it gives me the quick relief I need after felting for hours at a time. (Do you have a foam roller?  They're amazing--you should get one!)

I'm excited to share this felt painting hoop with you--it's another silly animal!

Do you love it?

I've got plenty more animal whimsy coming your way in next few weeks! Have a great day, friends!

Jul 24, 2014

Final Tattoo Session!

Yes!! I had my last tattoo session yesterday!!  It was a short one--only an hour.  A piece of cake, really.  We darkened some shading and blacks and added a bit more shading to one area (the area shown below.)

Because the session was so short, I have no in-progress photos.  I do, though, have a photo from today.  This is how crazy my skin looks immediately after and for a few days following a session.  Because this area is not saturated with ink, you can see how bruised I get.  All of that purple and pink you see that is not part of a flower, is bruising.  I've always bruised easily, and my skin reacts in crazy ways to all irritants.  It's ridiculous.

I'm excited to see the results after the bruising fades--I'll share a photo once I'm healed!

(In case you're curious, check out my other tattoo session posts: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

Jul 21, 2014

Craft Show Season is HERE!!

The Strawberry Swing in Kansas City is less than two weeks away, which means my version of craft show season (read: the period of time when Dani gets little sleep and her arm goes numb from felting so much) is here!  As usual, I've come up with brand new products  that need brand new displays right before a show.  So, no pressure.  Actually, my amazing husband put together exactly what I had in mind for a new display, now it just needs to be painted.

If you are in the area, you should stop by the Strawberry Swing! Here are the deets:

I'll also be in Tulsa at the end of August, for the Tulsa Mini Maker Faire!  Will I see you in either city?

Jul 19, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 29

Happy Saturday!  I'm continuing with the embroidery hoop creations, and I think you'll like the whimsical animals I've got lined up for you.  Meet my peeking bunny!

I wanted this felt bunny to look like he was just popping into the frame--slightly off center and a bit goofy looking. I think he turned out just fine!

I'll have this guy and more at the Strawberry Swing in Kansas City on August 3!

Jul 15, 2014

Tutorial: Felted Hearts for your Potted Plants

I've combined two of my tutorials to show you how to make some cute additions for your potted plants!

Make the hearts from this easy peasy tutorial, and add the floral stem wire from these cute balloon cupcake toppers, and you've got pretty felted heart plant sticks! Enjoy!

Jul 14, 2014

The Cutest Stockings...are on SALE!!

It's Christmas in July, and the stockings in my Etsy shop are on SALE!  The price marked is 20% off the original price.  This is a HUGE discount for these stockings.  They are made of high quality, 100% wool felt.  I needle felted each design onto the stocking, sewed the two sides together, added the hanging loop, and the carefully ironed the inside and outside of each one.  I love them all, but I think my two favorites are the bunny and the walrus.

Jul 12, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 28

I don't know why I haven't thought of this sooner, but I'm glad the idea came when it did (rather spontaneous, though it was.) Embroidery hoops, you guys!  I had some pieces of pure wool felt left from stocking making last winter, so I decided to felt onto those pieces and frame them up in hoops.  I absolutely love them, and I can't wait to show you what I've already finished.

We'll start with this one, which is my first one.  This sunflower is in a four-inch hoop.

So, I want to know...do you like the idea of felt paintings in hoops, or do you prefer my other style of paintings?

Jul 11, 2014

Fur, Feathers & Scales - Greater Hedgehog Tenrec

I realized last week that I've never introduced you guys to this animal!  This is a Greater Hedgehog Tenrec from Madagascar!  This particular one is a female, and her name is Maivana. 

Tenrecs look a lot like hedgehogs, because they are distantly related to them. However, tenrecs are endemic to Madagascar, meaning they're not found anywhere else in the world (in the wild.)  They are nocturnal and have fairly long whiskers to help them navigate dark, forest habitats.

Tenrecs can use their long toes and toenails to climb, and they have a surprisingly strong grasp with their legs and feet.  They are omnivores and eat vegetation and worms, grubs and other invertebrates. 

They are covered in spines that are used for protection.  In my opinion, a tenrec's spines are not quite as sharp as a hedgehog's spines.  Often I compare a tenrec's spines to feeling much like a hairbrush.  They can make chirping noises, and they also huff and hiss whey they're being defensive. 

Maivana was really fun (read: difficult) to photograph.  She was all over the place!  I was using a clay pot to keep the poster board backdrop in place, and she just wanted to climb it.  Check out some of our blooper photos below!


Jul 7, 2014

Cupcake Toppers DIY

I've had this idea for a cute DIY for a long time now, and I'm glad that I've finally had time to create it!  These needle felted toppers are super easy, and it's a really fun way to jazz up some cupcakes.

You'll need these supplies:
--wool in your chosen color(s)
--felting needle(s)
--felting foam
--floral stem wire (I used 18 guage)
--wire cutters.

Ball up your wool to the approximate size that you'd like your balloon topper to be.  Hold the ends of the wool fibers together--these will be the bottom "knot" of the balloon.   Start felting the top into a rounded shape.

Once the rounded part of the balloon is to the desired firmness, start guiding the loose end fibers toward a point.  Keep felting and tightening the fibers, but leave the very ends loose.

When you have a good balloon shape, it's time to make the "knot".  Gather the loose ends with your needle and felt them into the center of the "knot."  You'll end up making a ring around the base of the balloon.  If you need to, you can felt around the top of the ring to make the "knot" a little more defined.

If there is not one already, make and indention in the middle of the ring.  This is where you'll insert the floral stem wire.

To insert the wire, hold the balloon firmly and twist the balloon back and forth while pushing in the wire.  Make sure you don't push the wire all the way through the balloon.  If you keep your fingers at the top of the balloon while you're doing this, you'll be able to feel the wire when it's close to the edge.

 Now it's time to make your wire look like a string.  Carefully bend it without making any angles.  I used my thumb and forefinger to hold the wire and pushed my thumb into the wire to slightly bend it. 

Now you can make as many as you need.  The balloons will slide off the wire, so be sure to handle them by their "strings" only.  You could add a dab of super glue or hot glue to the wire at the base of the balloon to make them a bit more secure.  Just keep in mind that gluing fibers is tricky. 

Let me know if you try this out! I'd love to see photos!!


Jul 4, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 27

FINALLY, my project is current---I'm caught up with these felt paintings!!!! What a relief! Okay, now that that's out of the way...

I have another travel-inspired painting this week. The last time we were in Paris, we visited Père Lachaise Cemetery.  It was Spring, and of course there were tulips everywhere, which meant that I had to photograph them.  But not only were the tulips gorgeous, this vine-covered wall surrounding the cemetery was amazing.  And the cat! So pretty!

I thought these photos would make a great felt painting.  I wet felted everything except the cat, which is needle felted.  I also needle felted some of the details of the flowers and leaves.  I love this one, and I just might keep it.   

Have a great, safe weekend, friends!

Jul 2, 2014

52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 26

I got lots of compliments on the poppy painting from a few weeks ago, so I'm making more bright flowers with black backgrounds. We'll start with a yellow coneflower!

This piece is wet felted with needle felted details.  I learned one new trick and one new lesson this time, too. Yay for progress on wet felting! What other flowers would you like to see?