Thursday, November 7, 2013

Altered Art: Snowman Bottles & Jars

I have this thing about bottles and jars. 
A BIG thing

All kinds. New ones, old ones, big ones, small ones, clean ones, dirty ones...They ALL get me excited!! 

Whether it's to make jams & jellies (pomegranate jelly is my favorite) or to create a delightful piece of jewelry using a teensy-weensy jar with wondrous minuscule contents or to make a fabulous "faux" Snow-globe creation using the big 'uns with fun miniature scenes inside...they all float my boat BIG TIME! 

I've been planning these snowmen for months. 
YEARS, actually. I finally started them last December but couldn't finish in time for the holidays so they sat patiently waiting for me. 

Sorry, Frosty! :/

So here is my crafting table of "Snowman-ia"  

I guess this certifies me as an official "Snowmaniac"?!! 
(My hubby is convinced!)

The teeny jars are from Tim Holtz scrapbooking supplies, that were purchased from my local Joann Crafts store. I sculpted tiny polymer clay heads to suit each jar size, using white (oven-bake Fimo polymer clay) for the heads and orange clay rolled into tapered cone shapes for tiny "carrot" noses. Then I made black clay specks or tiny "balls" for the "Coal" eyes and mouth. You could also use tiny rhinestones or glass beads to simplify the process.

They were baked as directed on the package (though I tend to lower the oven temperature when I bake my minis so they don't get burnt, or "tent" the items with foil to protect them). It isn't a bad idea to paint a coat of Mod Podge or Polymer Clay Matte Finish Glaze over the head to add extra security to the facial features. I suggest this because I have a faceless snowman head to show for my woe!

The tiny jars were filled with luminescent glass bugle beads and iridescent seed beads for simulating sparkling "snow", then the heads were glued in place on top to seal the jar. I use Aleene's tacky craft glue with great success. E6000 glue would also be a great choice. (The tallest tiny jar is actually a mini Tabasco bottle I've been saving for 10 years for just the right project!)

Before I finished embellishing the snowmen heads, I wire-wrapped 18 gauge wire around the bottles glass neck several times to secure it, then I formed a loop at the back, so it can be worn as a pendant or hung as an ornament. I made reeeeally long noses that probably won't survive being worn very long, so next time I'll be making "stunted" carrot noses! Lol

Once I had the wire securely in place (you can put a dab of glue for extra security), I finished the embellishments on the heads. Colorful metallic threads, yarns, and trim make great neck scarfs! For cute hats you can roll tiny "cones of wrapping paper to form pointed "party" hats in holiday designs, or use various mini silk or paper flower embellishments, mini hat charms, etc. 

Use your imagination and go wild!

To add a touch of glitzy "snow" Liquitex Matte Gel Medium (found in the fine art painting aisle at the craft store), and paint all over or just random blotches on your snowman's head, hat, neck and scarf, then immediately while still wet, sprinkle sparkling white or translucent iridescent glitter over it for the appearance of "snow".

There is no end to the possibilities...

And now, on to the Big a Boys!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've become a hoarder of glass jars and bottles. My conscience for recycling coupled with my crafting obsession has created a monster! My box of jars has grown so much that it is overtaking my craft closet...I must do something about is completely unacceptable...please remind me when it's time for Spring cleaning...Yes, I do believe I must hold a jar crafting "sit in"!!


On to my big Snowmen...

These particular Snow Boys utilize the bottles I have recycled, such as barbecue sauce bottles, vinegars, etc. They have long narrow necks which aren't suitable for embellishments within, but look fantastic when filled with Pearls, Crystals, Beads and Glitter. 

The outer trimming and embellishments make these Paperclay Snowmen special in a more a Artsy-Fartsy Shabby Chic kinda way. I la la la LOVE these guys!!

The bottles were first thoroughly washed and dried, removing all residual food odors...(who needs a snowman that smells like vinegar, right?!!) 

The heads were sculpted (loose exaggeration!!) by rolling Paperclay into balls that were proportional to the size of the bottle it is to belong to. Paperclay is a product sold near the polymer clay in craft stores. It is very smooth and creamy white, and air dries. It is smoother than Celluclay papier-mâché (which is what I prefer to use for my bigger Mason Jar Snowmen). 

I didn't use a styrofoam ball center because these particular heads are only about 2-inches in diameter, and though it took several days to dry completely, they didn't crack too much, which I had been worried about.

For the noses, I sculpted "carrots" from Fimo (orange) oven-bake clay, then baked them and glued them to the heads using Aleene's Tacky Craft Glue. You could also sculpt a "carrot" or "nose bump" from Paperclay and then paint it orange. 

For the eyes and mouth I used those paper fasteners by Tim Holtz (used in scrapbooking to attach multiple papers together) and I just stuck the ends into the clay while it was still soft. Then I let the heads dry completely.

After filling the bottles to the desired fullness with various size faux pearl "snowballs", iridescent beads, and snowy-ish baubles, I glued the head in place, making sure not to let the glue run down the inside of the bottle neck.

Now comes the fun!

To accessorize the snowmen, I first made (or found) a hat...every self-respecting snowman needs a hat, right?!! There are endless ideas for hats. I use everything from cake decorating tips (which are perfectly cone shaped, shiny silver, and even have a hole in top for adding extra embellishments), to kitchen gadgets or broken toys, holiday wrapping decorations, etc.

 Another great idea for hats is to use the clipped finger ends of old worn out knitted gloves, to use them as "knitted caps". Just roll up the bottom edge like a cuff and voila you have a knit cap!

...And every snowman needs a scarf, don't forget that!! 

You can crochet or knit one, (if you're feeling über-inspired!) or you can tie strips of fabric, trim, lace, etc., around the bottle neck, to give your snowman that cozy feel. I like to use the "eyelash" yarns to give them a frilly look, and extra neck wrappings of metallic pipe cleaners for a festive appearance and fun swirly curly wired curlicues for interesting shape. 

Once you have all the trimmings in place, it's time to "Let it Snow".
Using Liquitex Matte Gel Medium, dab splotches in various places that you want the sparkly "snow" to stick, then sprinkle liberally with iridescent clear glitter "snow". 

Allow to dry completely for several days to insure a solid structure.

For my "Snowman Dream" Jars, (using large Mason jars), I have created a faux snow globe effect (without the liquid). Using mini holiday decorations, I create scenes within the large Mason jar. Glittered animals, tiny snow babies, sparkling trees, wrapped gifts, it all looks amazing inside of a snowman's tummy! Once you start, you can't stop!! At least, I can't stop!!

Once the little scene is in place (glued securely with E6000 or Tacky glue) I glue a layer of additional glitter or sparkly beads to cover the bottom of the jar evenly.

For the Snowman heads on the big Mason jars, I use Celluclay (paper mâché base powdery substance that mixes with water to form a moldable air-drying clay) to cover styrofoam balls in the appropriate size to fit the jar. For quart size jars I used a 3-inch styrofoam ball then covered it with approx. 1/2-inch of papier-mâché over it. The styrofoam ball helps with quicker drying time,  and assists in preventing cracks when drying.

The Celluclay papier-mâché leaves a rough textured surface (compared to Paperclay which is smooth), and I really like the texture for the big snowmen. 

For the nose, I add a small raised "bump", which I paint orange for his "carrot" nose, once the head is completely dry. For eyes on these guys, I like to use black 10mm rhinestones (plastic ones that come in asst. sizes), and for the mouth I use 4mm black rhinestones placed to create a happy smile.

Once the paper mâché is totally dry, glue it securely to the jar opening. If there are gaps, they can be disguised with "scarf" placement. I embellished my chilly pals with random unexpected charms and accessories. A broom made from a cinnamon sticks and twigs inspires endless possibilities!

To personalize my Snowmen I made beaded namesake charms using alphabet beads and crystals to trim. Trim, lace, ribbon, and charming embellishments add whimsy and style.

Snow accents are created as for the previous snow folks, with glitter over Liquitex Matte Gel Medium, finishing off the paper mâché Snowmen (& Snowomen, too, of course!) with fanciful twinkling wonderment to delight one and all!!

I hope you have as much fun making these Snowman Jars as I did!

With Sugarplum Hugs,


PS. Be sure to comment below and let me know how your snowman jar crafting is going for you!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Polymer Clay "Dia de Los Muertos" Skull Shoes!

Wow! Check these [polymer clay embellished] "Day of the Dead" shoes out by Eve Lynch!!

Sending you blessings for the day that honors loved ones who have passed into that parallel existence we call death...

It is important to remember that no one actually ever completely leaves us, they are just invisible in our material world, but they are ever present with us as they live on in the whispers we hear from within our hearts...

Keep your heart open to listen to the love & guidance that rises up in the gentle whispers!!

With Sugarplum Hugs,


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater!!

This time of year, as the chill begins to fill the air, the leaves are turning color...(Only in my mind, of course, because I'm in Phoenix, and my cactus and palm trees don't change with the seasons)...I am lured into a warm, cozy state of mind.

Autumn brings along with its early sunsets, the promise of hearty foods and holiday treats, with every passing week. And this week I purchased two big pumpkins, thumped for hollowness in hopes of a great harvest of raw seeds to roast!

For as long as I can remember, my mother made these incredibly delicious and addictive roasted pumpkin seeds. Long before I knew how healthy they were, I was chewing down on handfuls of these scrumptious bits of magic!

The recipe was given to her by our dear family friend, Pat Lyons, who I love for many wonderful reasons, and these pumpkin seeds are way up there on my list! They are easy to make, other then the gooey mess you find yourself in, while you fish them out of the soggy fibrous guts of the pumpkin. 

But I promise you, you better make a big batch, because you aren't going to believe how delicious they are! They aren't even a distant relative to the nasty packaged ones available for purchase.

Perfect Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes: Approx. 1½ cups of seeds per large pumpkin

Several Organic Pumpkins to harvest for seeds (use pumpkin meat for soup or bread!)
Organic unsalted butter (2-3 T. for an entire skillet full of seeds, just enough to moisten, not drown)
Garlic powder.  
Onion salt
*Other variations of spices can be used for a completely different flavor, such as spicy seeds by adding cayenne pepper, or Cajun seeds using alternate seasoning. 

Clean pumpkin seeds from gooey pumpkin meat and fibers.  Rinse and soak seeds for 1 hour in cold water.  Drain seeds and dry with paper towels.  Spread onto a cookie sheet (or several if you’ve decided to make a large batch). Sprinkle seeds with salt and spread on cookie sheet to dry overnight. *This is very important. Do not skip this step!! Seeds must dry out before proceeding to next step. 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry seeds in butter (but do not drown…only a small amount of butter is necessary). Add seasonings to taste; continuing to cook for 4-5 minutes. 

Spread seeds onto a baking sheet and Bake in 300 degree oven for 15 minutes or until brown, dry and crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks….but they won’t last that long in my house!

*If necessary, crisp in broiler, watching carefully for 1-2 minutes…but I’ve never had to do it, as they have been crispy and delicious without needing time in the broiler.

Happy Halloween with Sugarplum Hugs!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bead " Perfume Bottle" Mania!!

Okay, I've got so many crafty irons in the fire right now I have to spill my guts or I'll explode. And we certainly don't need that, now do we?? No, of course we don't!

Here we have another  obsession that's hit my craft studio...
"Perfume Bottles" made from stacking various crystals, beads, baubles and trim. They can be made with jewelry crafting head pins, then finished with a wrapped loop at the top for hanging as 
charms or pendants, or they can simply be assembled and glued together using (my favorite) E6000 glue. (That stuff is amazing for gluing jewelry parts, rhinestones, dominoes, and all kinds of crafting goodies!)

They look great as focal beads on a vintage style necklace, or even better, standing on a small mirror base (sold at craft stores), just as would be done with real sized perfume bottles.

These bronze metallic Heart Crystal beads made lovely faux perfume bottles. I glued small metal medallions to the center of the heart and added a black crystal rhinestone to embellish it. I used a bead cap for the base of the "bottle" so it stands properly.

These little gems turned out looking like Genie Bottles to me, which made me fall in love with them all the more! I purchased all the beads at my local PHENOMENAL bead store, Beads Galore in Tempe, AZ where I have shopped for 30 years!! It is a family owned business and the most helpful, friendly people work there. 

You can find Beads Galore, International  HERE  online!

So, you are probably wondering, "Why on earth did she make so many of them?!!" And the answer would be...I felt I wasn't INSANE enough already. with holiday gifts to finish, and Hannukah & Christmas only weeks away! So I joined a swap in a wonderful Art Charms group that I recently joined. 

As a matter of fact, I'm not sure how it happened, except for a bunny trail of crumbs that led to a neat Altered Charm swap I participated in via one of the blogs I follow...but I can't remember which one now :/ 

Anywhoo, suddenly, magically, I was invited into a new Art Charms group on Facebook (with a branch in Yahoo Groups), and now I'm being sucked down the rabbit hole!! (But don't rescue me, it's okay...I'm having so much fun!) it's a fabulous group of ladies that I'm enjoying getting to know in a marvelously crafty way.

So these little bottles will be finding their way to my new friends in the next few weeks! Below you can see how I have packaged them on custom printed cards, tied through punched holes with some ribbon or string. I just LOVE the modern capabilities I have with my printer...I was definitely born in an incredibly opportune slice of life (as are you), no doubt!! 

I put my "right-click" feature to good use on the computer! As long as you aren't selling it, it's not illegal to use a photo or artwork that is freely published on the internet, for your own personal use (at least that's what I've been told...). It's easy to print up images on 
cardstock, or design your own, to use for display and gifting.

I just love how they turned out, and I'm looking forward to see what my swap partners do with them! I will post photos of the treasures that I receive, as soon as they arrive in late November.

Until then, I hope you enjoy seeing these other lovely examples of Artisan crafted Bead "Perfume Bottles"...

(I will put the links to these as I locate them!)

With Sugarplum Hugs,


Up, Up & Away...Halloween Style!

It's the season for Spooktacular Adventures...

Can you imagine anything more terrifying then flying around it a Creep-tastic Hot Air Balloon?!! I can't!! You will never...ever...EVERRRR....get me up into a hot air balloon how, so don't even bother to try...I'll kick and scratch you until your eyes bleed, I'm warning you!!

But somehow, the terrifying notion is much more palatable in  Altered Art Mixed Media form. Check out this incredibly detailed Halloween Hot Air Balloon by Laura Carson (

She provides a FREE VIDEO TUTORIAL plus free printable templates to assist your craftiness. Alpha Stamps sponsors her blog, and makes available to purchase, custom craft image sheets that 
Laura has designed to accompany her projects.

If you have been following my blog for any time, you must be thinking, "Deanne must have a vested interest because she's ALWAYS showing projects from Laura Carson at Artfully Musing" but I assure you, I get nothing but creative inspiration from Laura! It's a mad crazy obsession, bordering on stalking! Lol. I am just SO INCREDIBLY INSPIRED by her artwork...and her tutorials are FREE which makes me love her even more!!

As a matter of fact, she is so inspiring, that she has taken my "least favorite" celebration (Halloween), and turned it into one of my favorites now...almost!

Have you seen her Halloween Carnival yet?!!!

Have Fun Exploring!!

With SPOOKY Sugarplum Hugs!


Alice's Adventures...

Alice in Wonderland touches a very impressionable spot in my imagination...I'm not sure if it's the crazy mayhem or the wild characters that suck me in, but either way, the creative genius of that tale absolutely enraptures me.

How I somehow managed to miss Laura Carson's post in April of this astounding creation, "We Are All Mad Hare", I cannot imagine?!! (

Laura's Scrapbook "Shrine" Mad Tea Party is Spectacular!!

This is the kind of stuff that almost makes me think I'm a "Scrapbooker"...but I know better! It's the "ScrapCrafting" that floats my ever-lovin boat!!

I found the Wonderland Rabbit charm (used above and painted with accents) at Hobby Lobby last year, so I have a head start!!

Enjoy the inspiration!!

With Sugarplum Hugs and Fairytale Dreams!!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Acorn, Acorn...Who's Got the Acorn?!!

I just LOVE these Polymer Clay covered glass jars that have been turned into Acorn lights!! 
(Made by Beth Petricoin)

A small battery operated tea light provides the warm glow...
I could see these sitting on my dining room table for the holidays!!

Just thought I'd share this with you as inspiration!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Magnificent Miniature Teddy Bears!

Collection of Miniature Bears by Deanne Crim
(Ranging in size from 1/2" to 4" tall)

For those of you who have just climbed onto my "Crazy Train", you would have no way of knowing that Miniature Teddybear-making has consumed much of my creative endeavors for 30 years.

"Miss Purdee Pleez" a Splendid 4" fully-jointed bear with Skunk Stole, 
Teddy Bear Purse, & seven 1" micro-mini bears on her Straw Bonnet.
Copyright 2000 Deanne Crim

My love of tiny things has already been discussed briefly, (however not for the last time, I can assure you of that!) Teddybears are loved by children everywhere, no doubt, but you may be unaware of the adults worldwide that collect, adore, even obsess over. Yes, I mean full-on obsession, including walking stroller-fulls of stuffed bears parading through a Bear & Doll show as if they were toting their toddlers on a family event. But don't have me committed quite yet, I am NOT one of those kind of Teddybear obsessed people...I am of the Art-Obsessed division...Miniature Bears, to be exact!

There is something absolutely magical about holding a perfectly tiny miniature teddy bear that captures my heart. I saw my first tiny teddy at a miniature show in 1983, and I was blown away. In those days I couldn't afford a $35 toy, so I set out on an educational quest (I can feel that same creative electricity flowing through me just telling you about it!). 

I went to my local library (before the convenience of the internet), and checked out a book on big 
Teddybear making, since no miniature source existed in those days. I miniaturized the procedures and the patterns and set to hand sewing the tiny pattern pieces. In a matter of days, my first bear was sitting in the palm of my hand.

"If good things come in small packages, then surely, a tiny Teddybear is the best of all!"
~Deanne Crim

"Pipsqueak" 1" fully-jointed miniature Teddybear by Deanne Crim
copyright 1997 D.Crim

In 1990, after meeting a new Teddybear artist friend while standing in line to enter a Teddybear Exhibition Show & Convention in Chicago, Judy Wahl, we got to talking about making miniature bears. We lamented on the elusive materials, the lack of educational information, and we schemed at blowing the lid off of Miniature Teddybear crafting "Secrecy"!

By the following Tuesday afternoon, I had my notes and outline in place. S.M.A.L.L. (The Society of Miniature Arctophiles Loving & Learning) was born! For approx 8 years I published a newsletter with patterns, tips, resources, club activities, contests, swaps, and our infamous SMALL Teddybear Tea Party Workshop Retreats. Our SMALL family thrived!

When the internet was born, everything changed. Some for the better, some not so much. Our SMALL Society became too pricey to continue in it's latter form, so I took a wild shot, and started a SMALL Yahoo Group in 2000 (I think?!!)

 It wasn't long before many of our SMALL members found their way back, as well as many others. Though our activities have never reached the peak of participation, as in the old days, we are able to keep out tiny Teddybear lifeline available. There have been many copycat clubs, but none that have had the extraordinary impact that S.M.A.L.L. had on the Teddybear world.

"Cozy Walnut Cradle" 1" jointed bear cuddling in a Walnut Shell
By Deanne Crim 

Several years ago I completed the draft for a Miniature Teddybear making book. It is the culmination of many years of designing miniature patterns and characters. Unfortunately I did the entire layout on my PC computer, which subsequently died on me...NO, I didn't have adequate backup...don't scold me! So I redid the entire book...PHEW! But THEN....OH NO!! I got a Mac and all my PC files were scrambled...UGH! So I am currently reformatting all the pattern layouts so I can finally make them available for sale ( my Etsy shop that has sat empty since it's creation three years ago!). I think I will be separating them for individual sale, though, instead of in book format.
I'll keep you posted on my progress...

So here is a little preview of some patterns that I will be making available for sale
(hopefully in the not-too-distant future!!

Wishing you Tiny Teddybear Treasures...
And Big Sugarplum Hugs!