Two Japanese Inspired Projects

Maneki-nekoI love craft books. They are so full of potential. I often use them to learn techniques and be inspired beyond the projects they offer. Here are two Japanese-styled projects that were inspired by books.

1.) Maneki-neko

“Maneki-neko” is the Japanese “lucky cat” with the upraised paw. This I created from a lightweight polar fleece as opposed to the felt the project was supposed to use. It gave the finished piece a softer, fuzzier look. This project was a project from the book Japanese Craft Book: “The Pretty Ornament Made with Felt” by Boutique Sha. Yes, the title is a bit odd sounding in English but then again it is a translation from Japanese – the language the book is written in. While I don’t read or speak Japanese, the copious line drawings allowed one to follow the directions without needing to read the text. Fun project.

2.) Sashiko Coin Purse

Sashiko Coin PurseUsing a black cross-stitch coin purse as the base, I used a persimmon sashiko stitch from The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook by Susan Briscoe to create this pretty little coin purse. I varied the colors and pattern to create this design.

Once embroidered, I sewed in a black lining and hand-corded red silk thread with an added blue and white porcelain bead. Fun little project for Western stitchers with the flavor of sashiko but with the ease of cross-stitch. The book has a wealth of stitches and patterns to try.

Untangle My Zentangle

Over the last couple of years, I occasionally have had lots of fun doing Zentangle designs and pieces. I’ve been doing stuff like this since I was a kid, but it has a name now. I did this piece to donate for a local Non-Profit’s silent auction event. I call it “Fiddlehead Rhapsody” since the central image is, you guessed it, a stylized fern fiddle head.

Simple stuff to try. I did this with colored card stock, Micron pens, and a tan marker. I added two colors of matting and a 5×7″ frame. Great size for offices…..let your mind wander through the swirls…


How To: Candy Wrapper Flowers


Did your Valentine give you sweets for the day? Save them as a memento by making them into a cute little bouquet of flowers from the candy wrappers!

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 10 minutes

Tools Needed

  • Scissors
  • Flush cut pliers or another tool capable of clipping fine wire

Supplies Needed

  • Candy wrappers, any but not ones made completely from a metal foil or a stiff paper
  • Florist’s 1/2″ green stem wrap tape
  • Florist’s green 22 gauge cloth stem wire
  • Leaves from silk flowers (optional)


1. Choose candy wrappers. Bright colored plastic or plastic and foil work best. Flatten and smooth wrappers as much as possible.

Lay the wrapper on a smooth, hard surface.




2. Press the tips of your index finger and thumb to the middle of the wrapper. Your thumb and index finger should be close together with no more than 1/4″ to 1/2″ gap between them. While still pressing into the wrapper, pinch your finger and thumb together gathering and lifting a small bit of wrapper.



3. A small, flat peak should be formed. While still pinching the peak, twist the peak. Twist at least 90 degrees. The center should have a swirled S-shape now.


4. Maintain the pinch on the center with one hand. With your other hand, make a C of your index finger and thumb.



5. Bring that C around the pinched center. Lift the center through the C.



6. Use the fingers of the C-hand to gently gather and form the wrapper into a rounded shape. Gather the loose ends together, underneath the flower. Twist the center portion tighter and push in slightly to help form the blossom.



7. Take the florist’s tape and wrap around the loose ends of the wrapper at the base of the blossom. If you wish your flower to have sepals (the green, leaf-like structures at the base of some flowers), add those now.


8. Insert the florist’s wire into the base of the blossom. Wrap the florist’s tape more tightly around the base of the flower going up to the base of your flower.


9. Work the tape tightly back down the wire at an angle.



10. If you wish to include leaves from old silk flowers, press the leaf to the wire and wrap the tape tightly around the base of the leaf and continue down the length of the stem.


11. Cut the wire to length. Wrap the tape to the end of the wire and clip.


Options: Use varying colors and sizes of wrappers for different looks. Use twigs, pipe cleaners, or other straight materials for the stems.


Miscellaneous How-To’s

I’m always crafting something. It is a given with me. And whenever it is possible, I like to share Make labels from recyclable containershow to make various craft items with others. I’m not someone to hoard my “secrets” or hard fought learnings of anything whether in the workplace, online, or in the home studio. I freely share! Here are a few how-to’s I’ve shared elsewhere….

  • Cordage Plants – A look at cord making from 3 fiber plants currently in my garden. Not entirely a how-to but if you are looking to make cord from natural fibers, this may assist.
  • Recycled Plant Markers – Use containers from the recycle bin to make labels for your garden plants.
  • Fabric Covered Journal – Turn a composition book into a journal for treasured stories, recipes, or pictures. (page 8)
There are a few others but unfortunately the site hosting has many broken links so when I get a chance I will create new articles and how-to’s here.

Doll Making with My Goblin Friend, Snodgrass Toewort

Snodgrass Toewort, Goblin Doll

The Goblin, Snodgrass Toewort

In the last year I have been on somewhat of a quest. I’m questing for new crafts to learn and master. As such, last spring I started coming up with my own doll patterns.

It was quite a process – starts with a drawing and moves to each piece needing its own specific pattern piece created. Some pieces had to be adjusted. But I’m pretty happy how it turned out. It was the first time that I created a pattern this complex.

He is a goblin named Snodgrass Toewort – yes, goblins have interesting names! Now my challenge is to make a second and see if the changes I made to the pattern were appropriate!

(Click on the image to see a larger view.)

March is Craft Month

Beaded wool leaf brooches

Some are saying that March is craft month. Why not if it encourages someone to get their creative juices following. Starting last March I worked on learning some various seed bead techniques. Over the months since I’ve had fun making beaded wool brooches. I definitely had the bead stash for it! (See above for a picture of some of them.)

What crafts can you learn this month?

Do You Ever Go Back to Finish It?

Photo of Iroquois-style Beaded Picture Frame

Iroquois-style Beaded Picture Frame

Have you ever laid a project on the side with every intention of going back and finishing it? I have although unlike many crafters and artists I have known, I do often get back to those projects – though it can take a long time to get back to them.

Recently I finished off one such project. It was an Iroquois-style beaded picture frame. A year ago I had attended a workshop to learn how to make them. At the end of the workshop, I only had to finish off the beaded edge. Unfortunately for me that day, I couldn’t seem to catch onto how to do the three bead picot edge stitch. It is an easy stitch but some days are like that – some days you can understand quantum mechanics and other days you can’t do simple arithmetic. Ah well. Anyways, I intended to get back to the project after I learned the stitch.

Photo of Detail of edge beading and raised beading

Detail of edge beading and raised beading

I learned the stitch recently while beading some wool felt leaves – fun little stuff to bead for appliques, soft brooches, or as parts of larger projects. Well it was fine time to go back and finish the project that waited for a year. I flew through the edge beading wondering why I couldn’t get the hang of it originally.

In the detail image to the left, you can see the edge beading as well as my first attempt at Iroquois raised beadwork. Raised beading is definitely a beautiful and artistic style of beading with many beautiful applications.

I urge you to go back to one of those projects you laid aside and finish it. I’m sure you’ll be happy you did!

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