Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Would We Do Without Friends!

I've always said that the arts and crafts community on the web is the best there is.

It's not just because there are so many phenomenal artists and crafters doing business on the web. It's because all of these artists and crafters are so willing to share their time, knowledge, and enthusiasm with other artists and crafters. They are always willing to help where ever they can.

Everyday I see evidence of my motto: "What helps one of us helps all of us!" and this Sunday was no exception.

You see, on Sunday morning I woke up to a bunch of emails from a friend of mine, Katherine Ann Johnson Lees who is affectionately known as "Kat Lees" or "Kat."

If you don't know who "Kat" is - let me tell you. She is a wonderful and extraordinary woman of enormous talent and generosity, who also happens to be a phenomenal doll artist and doll pattern creator.

She's been a cloth doll artist for over 25 years and designs, teaches, and sells her handmade dolls on her Designs By Kat blog, her Kat's Holiday Shoppe blog, her Christmas Designs By Kat blog, and her Designs By Kat Etsy shoppe.

Kat's dolls can range from the smallest to life size renditions. Kat is such an amazing artist that she has been commissioned several times to create portrait dolls for some of her customers.

She is both an artist and an illustrator with whimsical creativity beyond measure. Her dolls bring immense pleasure and smiles to the faces of everyone who sees them.

But, she is also an interior designer and this is very evident in the pictures of her home, especially the pictures with the holiday decorations. Kat transformed a bed and breakfast that she ran at the holidays to be every little girls dream. She created a wondrous environment for her family, friends and guests to enjoy and when you see the pictures of her decorations you can't help but feel her enthusiasm.

You see, Kat LOVES Christmas and the holidays and loves to create Santa's, Elves, whimsical creatures, etc. But, she also LOVES to inspire others to create. To try different avenues, different styles, different mediums. Her greatest joy is to watch her students as they realize their own hidden talents and watch the wonder in their eyes as they create some of her doll creations. To share her LOVE of creating and LOVE for life is a gift that Kat bestows on everyone she encounters whether they are students in her home, students taking her online classes, or students who buy her CD's and E-Patterns.

It is also a gift that she shares with her friends and which I, on Sunday morning, was the recipient of.

You see, the numerous emails from Kat were filled with her "Sherrie - The Poinsettia Elf" e-pattern, her "Connie - The Doll Maker Elf" e-pattern, her "Fiona Blue" decorative pillow e-pattern, and one of her wonderful tutorials on "Creating Faces With Chalk."

I, to say the least, was astonished. Kat had sent them to me "just because" and I was not only utterly surprised, but speechless.

Kat's e-patterns and tutorials are filled with hundreds of step by step pictures and instructions for creating her amazing dolls. And, her tutorial is filled with step by step pictures, instructions, and worksheets for learning how to create and paint faces with chalk. I could not believe how much time and effort went into producing each and everyone of Kat's e-patterns and tutorials. To say they are worth every penny of their cost is an understatement.

What Kat did not know was that her generosity created a beautiful morning of recollection for me. While looking at Connie, Sherrie, Fiona, and her tutorial I couldn't help but think of the fun my beloved step-daughter and I would have had creating her dolls. My step-daughter was a gifted artist and we often talked about dolls that I would create and dress and which she would paint the faces for. But, that was not to be.

However, looking at Kat's e-patterns filled me with beautiful memories and recollections of discussions with my beautiful step-daughter. That is a priceless gift and one for which, Kat, I will always be grateful. I decided that I am going to make all three of Kat's creations. It might take me a long time to do so, but I know that when I do my beloved step-daughter will be looking over my shoulder and encouraging me.

Thank-you, Kat, for your generosity, for your enthusiasm, for your enormous creative talents, and for being my friend. But most of all thank-you for giving me a beautiful day.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another One of My Linda's How-Do-I Series? Free E-Books - This One Is For Christmas!

I am very partial to handmade gifts, especially those that have been made by my family and friends. Given that I’m in the Grandmother phase of my life right now I’m especially partial to handmade gifts from my grandchildren. Whether it is a card or an ornament I love them and cherish them all. In fact, nothing pleases me more than receiving a handmade card or gift from my family and friends at the holidays.

With these economic times when money is scarce for so many people my thoughts turn to the different times in my life when money was scarce for me and the handmade gifts that I created and gave at the holidays.

If you are a reader of my Linda's Blog you know that I come from a family of crafters and that when I was growing up at the holidays we always had a Christmas crafting project to do.

One year it was a church scene created out of Styrofoam that my Dad and I created. My Dad painstakingly cut the Styrofoam to form a cone steeple and painstakingly cut the windows so they were a half circle at the top and had window panes. We added colored plastic to the inside of the windows and used a lighted angel inside the church so the colored glass would shine through. Then we added candle carolers, candle trees, and snowflake sprinkled felt for snow for the outside of the church. We used this scene as one of our Christmas displays until the foam finally fell apart. I loved that scene and especially loved working with my Dad on it.

Another year I decided to knit large stockings for everyone in the family. I knit their names in the top and each had their own special knit decoration on it. The stockings were knit with red, green, and white yarn and were about 24” long. We used those, too, until they finally fell apart.

Another year when I was in my twenties I decided to make all the gifts for my family and friends as money was tight that year. So, I decided to make handmade Christmas ornaments for my friends with their names embroidered on them and other handmade gifts for my family. Some members of my family got dolls (of course) and some got quilts, etc. My friends each got several ornaments of different types with their names on them. Some were trees, candy canes, snowmen, stockings, etc.

When my twin granddaughters were young they made their Grandfather and I handmade paper ornaments with their mother. They cut the ornaments out of construction paper and glued glitter all over the front of them. Then they added our names and their names to the back of the ornaments. A hole was created in the top of each and a piece of yarn was used as a hanger. They are some of my favorite ornaments and we still put them on our Christmas tree every year.

In fact, our Christmas tree is only decorated with handmade ornaments. You’ll find ornaments my grandchildren made or ones I've made over the years (and there are many of those) on our tree. Some are made of paper, some are cloth, and some are floral decorations I've made.

Others might be beaded ornaments my Mother and I made one year or wooden clothespin reindeer that I made 30+ years ago. I even have foam toy soldiers that I made from a kit over 35 years ago. Plus, I have wooden ornaments that I painted from a kit I bought close to 30 years ago.

You might also find beaded ornaments a friend of mine made, terracotta floral and terracotta cloth ornaments I made, porcelain Santa heads my sister made, a knitted wreath from my Grandmother, or a felt cardinal made by a friend that sits on a branch with an old fashion silver hair clip. There might be silver icicles or wooden dolls.

You just never know what you may find. What you can count on is that each and every ornament is remembered and loved and painstaking preserved so that we have it for the next holiday season.

So, I thought I would share some easy and fast cloth, paper, and E-Printable ornament ideas with you. Maybe they will entice you to make your own handmade ornaments this year that you’ll cherish and painstakingly preserve for years and years to come.

The same basic outline was used for most of the ornaments whether you are making them out of construction paper, coloring them on heavier stock paper, printing them out on heavy card stock for E-Printables, or making them out of cloth. They can be as easy to make as you want or some of the cloth ones can be more elaborate just by adding beads or other decorations. That, of course, is up to you. We’re providing instructions for the basics. The rest is up to you and your creativity.

Adult supervision is required if you are making these ornaments with young children as some of the ornaments require the use of scissors, Elmer’s glue, hot glue, small decorations, and needle & thread.

Our E-Book is broken down into 4 sections as follows:

Section #1—Instructions and Supplies Needed.

Section #2—BASIC SHAPES and DETAILS for construction paper cut-out ornaments or for coloring ornaments on heavier stock paper.

Section #3—COLORED E-PRINTABLES for creating e-printable ornaments on heavy card stock.

Section #4—E-PATTERN PIECES for felt cloth ornaments that you can decorate as elaborately or as simply as you want.

Please follow the instructions within each of the sections as to how to make the construction paper ornaments, colored ornaments on heavier stock paper, colored e-printables, and felt cloth ornaments.

I hope you enjoy our "How To Create Fast and Easy Cloth, Paper, and E-Printable Ornaments" Free E-Book. Happy holidays.

My free e-book can be download from this post.

For more information on all my free e-patterns, e-printables and e-books please CLICK HERE.

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