Dog's Life: DIY
For unique, personalized, wearable art, there’s nothing like it.
For unique, personalized, wearable art, there’s nothing like a decoupaged bracelet. Start with a plain wooden bangle (online suppliers, such as DiyBangles, offer a variety of styles and sizes at $3 to $4 each); a bottle of Mod Podge, which is both an adhesive and a sealant; and a few inexpensive paintbrushes.
Then, collect paper images from your favorite highquality catalogs, postcards, wrapping paper, books, gift cards, stamps, labels and, of course, The Bark. Bark is my go-to source for all my dog-themed bracelets, as the magazine is a treasure trove of photos, paintings, book covers, cartoons and clever ads. It’s also the perfect thickness. Avoid thin paper, which will tear, and newsprint, which will smudge.
Think about a theme and color scheme. A wide bangle lends itself to rectangular images; cut them out and lay them in a row the same length as the bracelet perimeter (leave about one-quarter inch on each end of the image to tuck over the rim). This way, you can play around with the order to see which look best together. It’s easiest, and artistically effective, to work with images that are less than two inches wide. You can overlap them slightly or insert a narrow strip of paper in a contrasting color between them to set them off.
With your brush, spread a layer of Mod Podge on the non-design side and set the image onto the bangle. (For a tighter surface fit, make little cuts in the ends of the image so they can be tucked smoothly over the rim.) Continue to adhere each image onto the bracelet, carefully massaging the paper with your thumb to get rid of any wrinkles.
Once all the images are in place, cut a strip of nice paper to line the inside of the bangle and cover the image ends. Finally, put a layer or two of Mod Podge over the entire bracelet, inside and out. It takes about 10 minutes for each coat to dry completely. For a higher gloss, apply an extra glaze, such as Triple Thick by Americana. As a final accent, use a gold leaf marker to fill in any gaps or highlight a particular design feature.
Dog's Life: DIY
How to sculpt a special Halloween pumpkin
When Halloween rolls around, you don’t have to be an artist— or even think you’re particularly creative—to feel the pull of the pumpkin. The pumpkin reminds us of our childhood, of times when the whole family gave it their best shot. We knew that if our pumpkins weren’t perfect, they would rot and that would be the end of the embarrassment. And this is true today, my friends. Pumpkins still rot. So take a chance!
Last year, I sculpted some puppy pumpkins and sent the photos to the editor. Which is how I came to be invited write this piece. Even if you believe you’re not an artist, I encourage you to try this. Why? Because Bark and its readers inspired me to start pumpkin carving in the first place.
My technique involves removing the skin and sculpting the meat of the pumpkin, varying the wall thickness to create the design. When you punch through to the cavity of the pumpkin, you have a dark pumpkin with a flaming hot yellow color inside when it is lit. But if you don’t cut all the way through, you can create many layers of color.
• Open the pumpkin. Use a sturdy knife (with a six- or seven-inch blade), just like you do for a traditional pumpkin. Create an opening in the top large enough to get your hand inside. To make sure the lid will not fall inside, angle the knife so that the tip tilts toward the stem and the handle tips toward you. This creates a shelf for the lid to rest on. Carefully work around until the lid is free, and then lift it out. (Reminder: Do not place your free or pumpkin-holding hand in front of the blade as you are cutting.) Clean out your pumpkin.
2. Next, take the small triangle mini-ribbon tool and draw your dog in the area you have scraped clean. Use most of the scraped space. To draw, hold the tool perpendicular to the pumpkin and touch it gently on the surface. Tilt it like a pencil and drag it gently across the light meat (be careful not to press too hard, as this tool is breakable). When done correctly, a small ribbon of pumpkin will come off. Do the best you can—remember, it’s only a pumpkin.
3. Using the squared-off end of the depth tool, trace the outline of your dog (the line between the dog and the background). Again, place this tool perpendicular to the pumpkin surface, and keeping it against your drawn line, dig in a little (about 1/8 of an inch) to widen and further emphasize the outline. Do this all around, which will make the dog pop out a bit from the background. Then repeat this step one more time, until the depth is just over 1/4 inch. (If the wall of your pumpkin is thinner than 1 1/2 inches, just take off the first eighth; you can always dig deeper later.)
4. Take the large loop tool and place the tip in the groove you have just created. Lean the tool so that it bites into the outside edge of the groove and gently carve away that outside line, making this groove a bit wider. Now, your dog is really sitting forward.
At this point, it’s time to think about which part of your design you wish to be darker (leave the pumpkin wall thicker) and which part you would like to glow brighter (thin out the pumpkin wall). For example, if you want your dog’s eyes to glow, you would carve very close to the pumpkin’s cavity, even punching completely through).
5. Carve away the area around your dog just a bit. Then sculpt the ear. In the pumpkin shown in the photos, the ear is folded, so the top part is closer to the viewer and the flap of the ear is carved back somewhat to make it look like it is farther away. Start by using the depth tool as in step three. Dig in just a little. Then, as in step four, use the larger loop tool to carve away the outer edge of the groove. Once you have removed it, you can soften the look by gently carving away the remaining hard edge at an angle.
Check the pumpkin’s wall, and if there’s still enough thickness left, you can make the groove a bit deeper, which will cause the ear to be more prominent. After you’ve outlined the ears, do the forehead, cheeks, eyes and muzzle. If your dog’s mouth is open, or has a ball in it, outline and sculpt the ball, then the tongue and lower jaw. Repeat these steps to work though the rest of the design.
6. To create the fur and to emphasize the detail a bit, use the mini-ribbon tools. Experiment with these tools to see which ones give you the best result. In this example, the dog’s hair was created with the triangle mini-ribbon tool.
Many of my students put a battery-powered light inside the pumpkin and carve to the light, so to speak. If you light your pumpkin and feel it’s too dark, simply do some back-carving. Take the loop tool and gently scrape some pumpkin away from inside the cavity. Be careful and go slowly. Do a couple of scrapes and then check your progress with the light.
So, these are the basic steps—trace with the depth tool, feather or remove the outer edge and gently smooth with the large loop tool, then repeat. Just keep in mind that what you carve away thins the pumpkin wall, which will make that area brighter when the pumpkin is lit.
Here are my final words on the subject. You are you, so you will sculpt like you, not me or any other artist. This is what makes art, art. Remember, you do not have to make a dog portrait—this is Halloween, and you can make a vampire dog or whatever you want. Relax and don’t give up! When the big night rolls around, light the inside of the pumpkin. (If it’s a giant like I often use, a battery-powered camping lantern works well; for a classic-size pumpkin, try tea lights, a votive candle or a snap-to-activate glow light.) Then step back and admire your handiwork!
PLAT DU JOUR
Alexandra Thurston gives us added incentive to clean our plates at mealtime: so we can enjoy the portraits that adorn her ceramic ware. In creating her porcelain portraiture, Thurston combines three passions—ceramics, printmaking and dogs. She’s had her hands in clay since she was six and studied printmaking at college, concentrating on wood block printing. She says that dogs were always her favorite subject. As she renewed her interest in ceramics, some of her old prints made their way onto her pottery. Soon, she was creating custom portraits of friends’ dogs and applying them to plates. Today, she uses the linocut technique, carving the portraits into a sheet of linoleum from photos provided by her customers, essentially creating a large stamp.
The plates and platters are made with sheets of porcelain clay run through a slab press. Each plate is hand molded, and the image is transferred to the plate using a black underglaze and an ink roller. Upon request, the dog’s name is applied manually with rubber alphabet stamps. The plates are fired with a clear glaze to add a light sheen and to make them dishwasher safe and microwavable. Because the plates are handmade and hand-printed, each has a special charm and character all its own.
Alexandra grew up as an only (human) child, but shared her early years with a liver-spotted Dalmatian named Truffles, who joined the family every night at the dinner table. We think this could be the real source of inspiration for these fanciful plates. Who wouldn’t want to share a meal with these adorable pup plates?
News: Guest Posts
How to craft your dog a better life.
In this piece, we give you some fantastic ways to treat your dog by building them some really simple and engaging toys. Not only will you be giving your dog something he’ll love and cherish, you’ll also be keeping the cost down, which is another bonus!
These ideas include some really fun toys, a feeding station, a doggy puzzle to get your pooch thinking, an awesome washing station and a really easy to make dog house.
Dog's Life: DIY
A fun project for the whole family.
Making the Dog Shape
Lay two sheets of newspaper flat on the table, one on top of the other. Scrunch up three balls of newspaper and line them up on top of the flat newspaper sheets. Then roll the flat sheets around the balls, forming a tube shape, and tape the tube together with masking tape
Bend the tube into an L shape to form the head and neck. Use masking tape to tape the bend in place.
Shape a scrunched-up piece of newspaper into the shape of a snout. Tape the snout onto the head with masking tape.
Use cardboard for ears. Draw two triangular shapes on the cardboard, then cut them out and tape to either side of the head.
Tail and Legs
Use a toilet paper roll to make the tail and legs. Cut a toilet paper roll in half lengthwise, then roll each half back into a tube and seal it with tape to form a leg. Use another half roll to form the tail. If you’re making a larger dog, you can use an entire toilet paper roll to form each leg.
Cover Dog with Masking Tape
Cover entire dog with two layers of masking tape, being sure to cover all the newspaper and cardboard. Smooth the tape down flat, leaving no gaps or air bubbles. This will ensure that the papier-mâché paste dries hardened.
1. This is a messy activity! Be sure to cover table with newspaper, butcher paper or a big plastic bag.
2. To make your papiermâché paste, whisk together 2 cups water, 1 1/2 cups flour and 2 tablespoons salt in a bowl. Add more water if the paste is too thick.
3. Tear sheets of newspaper into long strips one to two inches wide.
4. Dip the paper strips into the paste. Slide your fingers down the paper strips to wipe the excess paste back into bowl. The strips shouldn’t be too heavy with paste.
5. Start to cover the dog with papier-mâché strips. Flatten down the strips to make your dog smooth.
6. Cover the entire dog with two layers of papier-mâché strips.
7. Let the papier-mâché dog dry thoroughly for one to two days. To avoid mold, do not let the dog dry in a humid or damp room. If possible, dry it in sunlight on a windowsill — or even outdoors.
Painting the Dog
You can use children’s poster paints or acrylic paint. Paint the entire body first. Once the body has dried, paint the eyes, nose, mouth and any other creative details! Send a photo of your paper dog to us — we would love to see your handiwork! email@example.com
Dog's Life: DIY
Make your own mini pack of pups
Making your own minipack of pups just got easier. In Felt Dogs, a new book by master needle-felter Mitsuki Hoshi, clear step-by-step instructions are provided, with charming photos to entice you to try your hand at this latest DIY craze. The book is due out in April from Laurence King Publishing and is available on Amazon.
British crafter Donya Coward’s beaded, lacey creations.
Ten years ago, Donya Coward was a recent graduate of the knitwear fashion design program at Nottingham Trent University (UK). On a lark, she made some brooches from odd scraps she had lying around. Next came a children’s story illustrated with fabric faces. But her craft and career path really soared when she started to make full-blown animal sculptures that she refers to as “textile taxidermy.”
These eco-friendly, three-dimensional works are constructed with layers of knit and crochet and completed by a fine “skin” of embroidery and beading. When describing her process, Coward emphasizes her use of “antique, vintage and up-cycled haberdashery, laces, fabrics and embroideries,” and adds that, for her, “it is important to preserve the craftsmanship and skills of days gone and give them a new identity.”
She certainly has made her mark with her intricate and lovely dog heads, banners and full-sized figures. She takes commissions, and all her work is done by hand—definitely well worth the wait they might require.
Dog's Life: DIY
Knitting Wolves [Pattern]
For the yarn and needle set, there is an adorable new pattern book, Knit Your Own Zoo, from the same crafty aces, Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, who brought us Knit Your Own Dog. With this new work you can try your hand at needling up a wolf (check out the pattern PDF) or 23 other wildlife critters, such as an elephant, giraffe, panda or kangaroo with its own little joey. Knit Your Own Zoo is published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.
Dog's Life: DIY
This year, try the traditional Japanese art of wrapping gifts in fabric squares—furoshiki—as an attractive and functional way to reduce paper waste. Not only is this an eco-sensitive option, the fabric can be put to other uses, doubling the gift.
For furoshiki wrapping directions, watch this video or download the PDF, which was created by the helpful folks at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.
Dog's Life: DIY
A homemade toy to enjoy.
Crafty dog lovers will find lots to inspire them in Mike Spears’ new book, Silly Dog Toys, which includes 12 easy projects. Safety first: Spears notes that it’s important to use materials that have not been soiled or coated with toxic substances, and that it’s also essential to supervise your pup’s play—or better yet, play with her. We couldn’t agree more! The Handy Tugger will satisfy the toughest of tuggers. Use different types of gloves for the tugger ends. You can also vary the tube, using socks or other materials. If you have two or more dogs, they’ll certainly learn quickly what the tugger is all about.
2. Insert a 4" length of elastic into the sleeve and sew it 1/4" from one edge.
3. Stuff the sleeve lightly with batting, surrounding the elastic.
4. Find the free end of the elastic. With your free hand, push back the sleeve and batting until the edges of the sleeve and elastic are aligned.
5. Pin together the sleeve edges and elastic, 1" from the edge. Sew the elastic to the sleeve 1/4" from the edge.
6. Stuff both gloves with batting and add a squeaker in the palm of each glove. Stuff the thumbs and fingers fully and the palms about three-quarters full.
7. Remove pins from the sleeve. Insert a sleeve end into one of the gloves. Sew the sleeve inside the glove 1/2" inside the glove cuff. Repeat for the other glove. (Double-check to be sure all pins have been removed.)
8. Tug away!
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