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Tips And Hints!

Welcome to my tip and hints page!

I have been creating for a lot of years, and I know I have ideas to offer since I have done, and tried almost everything crafts related. I will try to post them here as they come to me, or when I remember them. This is June 2011, this page will grow over time, my desire is to pass along useful information that may help make life in the craft room a bit easier for others. I will add to this at least once a week. 

1: Prevent thread from tangling- Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce to eliminate the static cling on the thread. 

2: Do you ever wonder how an artist will get such fine painted detail on a piece? They own a magnifying head piece. Yes, you do look like an alien from another planet, but it is a must when painting fine details such as eyes, eyelashes and more. The magnifyer fits right on your head, can be tightened and bring the item right up close! I wouldn't be without one... There are times when you may be caught by company or the UPS man unexpectidly with this thing on, yes it is a bit embarrassing!!

3: My absolute most favorite sculpting tool ever are the Forsline And Starr Shapers, I do not know what I would do without them! They are perfect tools for so many sculpting applications...JMHO

4: Stuffing is an art, not always easy to get a nice smooth job done, but with practice it does come! My must have tool for this is the Barbara Willis stuffing tools, this makes the job way easier!

5: I am a glue fan, have glue for every application, I have tried them all and the winners are: Gripp, Fabri Tac and Beacon clear glue and E6000,  these can always be found in my craft room.

6: Sew doll hair first on top of vellum or cardstock, then just tear away the paper and your hair is ready to be applied to the head.

7: If sculpting a clay doll head that will later have hair applied, sculpt the head to later make applying hair easy. Carve clay down and away in areas of the head that will have hair, this makes it look more natural. Carving out a larger hole on top of the head will also allow for more room to create a hair do. If the doll is to have a part, carve a tunnel so that later the hair can be glued in and a natural part will be the result.

8: What is the best glue for applying doll hair on a clay doll? Fabi Tac is the winner.

9: To make hair plugs to later glue onto dollys head, take clumps of hair, apply fabri tac to the edge, saturate it good. After it is dry, take scissors and cut some of the excess away and cut for an even edge. You now have neat little hair plugs to glue on.

10: To make a prim cinnamon coating for say those cute Make Do's, works on glass or any surface. First take matte mod podge and mix it 1 to 1 with paint color of choice, brown is best. Brush this mixture on your surface of choice, while it is still wet, generously coat with cinnamon. Set aside to dry. Once dry brush on a mixture of 1/2 mod podge and 1/2 water. Set this out to dry, your all done, the look of this is wonderful too. No this is not my recipe, when I can remember where it originated I will post it, but can't right now!

11: WAnt some out of the ordinary Raggedy Ann hair? Take a strip of muslin say 8 inches wide, or however wide you want that hair once the muslin is folded in half, by the 45 length. Fold it in half, iron down, now you have a 4" wide strip. Take scissors and cut up to the fold on the entire length every 1/4 inch or so, make sure to not cut through leaving an 1/4 to 1/8 on the edge. Take rit dye, dip your hair until desired color is there, wring out, throw this strip in the clothes dryer, when it comes out it is crazy curly and really makes adorable hair. Of course wipe out your dryer when finished... make as many strips as it will take to cover dollys head.

12: The Cricut paper cutting machine really IS all that and a bag of chips!!!!! LOL

13: Take three people, give them the same ball of clay, pattern or whatever you want with the exact same instructions. Every one of them will look completely different! I don't every worry about giving up a crafting know how or secret, or worry about someone else making the same thing. The reason is this, we all have our own unique talent we bring to our creating, I can't do what other do, and they cannot take from me the uniqueness I put into my things. It is not possible for someone else to bring to that project the same thing I would and vise versa.... 

14. Want to know the secret on making soft rosy cheeks on any type of doll or surface excluding straight muslin? My method is to take Jo Sonya's retarder and antiqueing medium, put a thin sheen on the area to be blushed, make it larger than you know you'll need so the paint can feather out nicely to nothing. You can take a dry scruffy brush, add paint, then wipe off excess on paper towel. Now lightly pounce and go in a circular motion, the retarder will make the paint come off nice and soft, you can then smooth more with another dry soft brush. On muslin that is not painted you could spray with a sealer, then apply the retarder and then blush.

15. To paint features on a muslin doll face that has not been base coated, you can make it so the paint will not run or bleed into the surrounding area. First take some textile medium, and mix 2/3 medium with 1/3 water, use this to coat areas you want to shade or float color. You can saturate the area pretty good, helps to move the float of color nicely and stays where you want it. Also use this mix  instead of straight water to wet your brush or to thin paint. That's it!

16. My favorite thing to use as a snowman nose besides the ones I make from clay are Twistie Pods! I love these, they are all different lengths, some curl etc... I get them at http://www.country-whims.com/ I also get my fine German glass glitter there!

17. To keep air-dry clay from drying out after the package is open, and from all the exposure to air while you are using it, you can use this nifty trick. I put the block of clay in a plastic container not much bigger than the clay block, I then mist a paper towel until damp and stick this in with the opened clay on top, close the plastic lid and put this in a gallon sized freezer bag between uses. I re-mist the paper towel as needed to keep it moist, this really helps to keep the clay nice and workable. 

18. Unscented baby wipes are great to keep in the craft room for keeping hands clean while working with messy materials! 

19. I should own stock in those cheap foam plates from Wally's, I use them contantly in the craft room. They are perfect for a paint tray, and for loading the paint brush and brush stroke loading. I use them for my glue gun to sit on, I use them for all my glueing projects. I apply glitter over them and bend in the middle to put the excess back in it's container. There are endless uses really, and when your done just throw them away.

20. Bounce sheets work the same as a tack cloth to clean up dust and wood particles on your craft projects.

21. Here is the formula for enlarging and decreasing a pattern. To INCREASE, divide the pattern size into your desired doll size. For example, if the pattern is for a 17" doll and you want your doll to be 21" divide 17 into 21 to get 1.23. Set the copier to 123%
To DECREASE, again divide the pattern size into the desired doll size. For example, if the pattern is 17" and you want your doll to be 14", divide 17 into 14 to get .082. Set the copier to 82% Good luck, it does work!

22. Make your project look prim and worn by misting a mixture of coffee, water and vanilla from a misting bottle onto your fabric, just a tad is enough. From here sprinkle cinnamon onto this damp area, take a paper towel or just your fingers and rub it in, let it dry and admire the look and also the smell YUM!!

23. Use intant Gripp glue to add to seams that will be stuffed hard, this adds strength to those areas. Add the glue, let dry then stuff. I also love this glue for filling neck areas of dolls, add the stuffing and let dry, it makes the neck nice and hard for sturdiness. This glue is flexible so it works great for this and many applications.

24. Really, who needs a hot glue gun when there is the invention of Fabri Tac glue? This glue is great and is not as messy as hot glue and just as strong, I CANNOT craft without this stuff.

25. If you want your stuffing projects to go as smooth as possible, user friendly, stays where you put it, no lumps or bumps, then you need to purchase Airtex Premium stuffing, it has to be the premium. I love this stuff, it truly makes a difference if you care about the quality of your finished goods. I ordered mine in a 5 lb box from Barbara Graff, I think it was 35 and free shipping, something like that. It is wonderful stuff, and trust me I have done this enough years that I have tried them all.

26. If you like my painted faces, then I highly suggest either take a tole painting class, or buying a good book on beginning brush stroke work. Once you learn the basic brush strokes, learn how to properly load your brushes, you can apply those techniques to doll faces and fabric makes a wonderful canvas. I think the most important brush stroke to learn is shading and the proper side load. My dolls have so much dimension because I am not afraid to shade and highlight areas as needed. I make the paint do what I want and work for me, not the other way around. Practice, practice practice on old fabric scraps and practice paper. The only way you will get the feel of what works is to do it!

27. If you like primitive rusty items to adorn your projects, the best supplier I have found is http://stores.ebay.ca/Streetcar-Junction they have a huge supply. I also like http://www.clothdollsupply/ and http://www.country-whims/

28. One of the most used tools in my craft room is a heat gun usually used for embossing BUT I use it to speed dry my projects. When I am painting and want to move on to the next step, I just grap the heat gun and get it dry. When I have sprayed my dolls with stain to prim them up, I speed dry them! Now you could use a hair dryer, but it is not as effective since the heat gun puts out a more concetrated heat source. The heat gun also takes up less room.

29. Want to make placement of eyes, mouths and eyebrows on your dolls easier.... I use a caliper tool, you can easily measure distances and mark them out!

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