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!
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 crochet hook, a button and a little yarn are all you need.
What do sharing your life with animal companions and working with yarn have in common? Both activities may have similar health benefits, including helping to lower blood pressure and reducing stress. I guess that makes me the epitome of good health, since I live with a dog and three cats and have been knitting and crocheting since I was six years old. I consider time spent crocheting as I lounge on my favorite couch with at least a couple of animals tucked up beside me to be a gift like no other: just me, my animals and some yarn. And, like daily vitamins and exercise, it’s important for my health!
A simple chain stitch and single crochet are the only stitches you need to know to make one of these collars. The variation in their look comes from the kind of yarn you use and the embellishments you add; if you select a textured yarn—which can be tricky to work with until you get used to it—you don’t really need to add anything else. Choose a crochet hook that will make a fairly tight stitch. If you still have the label from your yarn, it will tell you what size hook to use.
For the buttonhole, begin a row of single crochet as usual. After one stitch for a narrow collar or two stitches for a wider one, chain the rest of the row until just before the end, at which point you will join the chain to the collar again with one or two single crochet stitches as in the beginning of the row. Complete one more row of single crochet and bind off.
And speaking of your heart, continue the health benefits of this project by taking your dog for a nice long walk and showing off your handiwork. It’s much more fun than going to the gym!
[Note: This collar is not meant for leash attachment.]
Dog's Life: DIY
Use up your yarn scraps or color coordinate with your dog
The interior is stuffed to about 1 1/2" thick, while the trim is about 2 1/2" thick. Made with a tight single crochet (sc) stitch, it’s built to last, and—depending on the yarn you use—is machine wash- and dryable (gentle cycle).
*Adjust amount of yarn to size desired
Continue crocheting in a continuous 20 stitches around until the tube measures about 80" inches long. Stuff it with the polyester fiberfill
Finished size: 18" x 20"
A perfect recipe for summer
Stepping out with our furry friends during the sunniest time of the year makes for hot and hungry dogs. This quick, simple recipe is designed to cool off your pup, while providing a delectable, tasty treat! Makes 30-40 cubes, enough to last the summer. Feel free to add other tasty items like raspberries and strawberries, or any of the superfoods listed here (yogurt-fish-honey pops, anyone?).
4 cups yogurt (flavored or plain, non-fat if needed)
Melt peanut butter in microwave for about 30 seconds
Place all of the ingredients into a blender, mixer or food processor and mix well (until smooth)
Pour into ice cube trays or Popsicle trays.
Freeze until firm.
Pop out of the tray (you’ll need a knife) and let your dog enjoy this frozen treat!
Recipe from Pet Guide
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.
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
Make your own textiles, wallpaper, gift wrap and more—digital printing is all the rage!
Who knew that creating personalized fabrics could be so easy? Anything that can be printed on paper can be printed on fabric, and the possibilities are endless. Put your favorite photo or drawing—of your dog, naturally—on a pillow or quilt, or make a nifty gift wrap. For a festive room decoration, sew or hang small cloth squares on a wide ribbon, à la Mexican papel picado. You can even print on silk—how sweet it is to have a scarf with your pup’s picture on it.
A big fan of “made in America” Pointer-brand denim jackets, I decided to do the ’60s thing and embellish one with a portrait of Lola, my own special Pointer. For the younger set, a photo of sleeping puppies printed and stitched onto a onesie makes an adorable gift. This charming craft started more than 20 years ago, and has been refined and popularized over time. The basic tools are a computer, inkjet printer and fabric. Printers that use the more colorfast, water-resistant, pigmentbased inks are preferred over those using dye (or standard) inks. Major brands such as Epson, HP and Canon have affordable models. For fabric, start off with paper-backed, pretreated and printer-ready cotton sheets. A number of companies, including Jacquard, EQ Printables and Avery, make standard paper-sized sheets as well as fabric rolls. Follow the instructions on the package for preparation and printer settings. More crafty DIYers can apply their own fabric to a backing (called a “carrier”), then treat it so it runs through a printer without jamming.
Go to YouTube for good “how-to” videos detailing all the steps, or find more information at Instructionals.com. Those interested in taking the craft up a notch may want to check out Inkjet Printing on Fabric by fabric designer Heidi Rand, an e-book full of invaluable tips and examples of inspirational creations. There are also many on-demand services that assist you in designing customized textiles. See websites Spoonflower.com, FabriconDemand.com and TheFabricStudio.com for more information.
Try your hand at fabric printing and send us your ideas and examples of your projects—we’d love to see your fabric pooch.
Dog's Life: DIY
With reuse all the rage, old becomes new again!
It’s like magic. Something old becomes new again. I have always been enchanted by this process of transformation, even before it became known as recycling and was recognized as good for the environment. As a child, I made milk cartons into doll houses and lunchboxes into pocketbooks. Paperclips became jewelry and my father’s old neckties became bracelets and belts. Now, when I make things for my dog, this is the creative process.
I discovered this idea for dog collars while refashioning a shirt for myself, and even though it didn’t fit me at all, it is almost impossible for me to throw anything away. So there I was on the floor with scissors, needles and thread, and of course Eloise. She always helps me sew by finding as many dangerous things to chew on as she can. As I cut and tucked and modeled the changes in front of the mirror, I caught Eloise disappearing around the corner with the collar in her mouth for a nice private chew. And then the moment arrived ... when I saw something become something else. I think I actually got a surge of adrenaline when it happened because it made me laugh out loud. I removed the collar from her mouth and slipped it effortlessly around her neck. A perfect fit. Tight enough to keep it away from her teeth and paws, but loose enough to be comfortable. The concept of “dog collar” took on a whole new meaning.
But I couldn’t stop there. The possibilities were endless for decoration and embellishment. Trims, embroidery, buttons and bows. I began asking all my friends for hand-me-down shirts and combing thrift stores and flea markets for different sizes, colors and patterns. I gave them to all my doggie friends and started selling them in my local pet store. At 48 years old creating fashions for my dog is almost as much fun as making things for my dolls when I was 10, but with an added bonus. It helps soften the blows of middle age.
1. Cut the collar off the shirt being careful to stay as close to the seam as possible but without cutting into the neckband.
2. Spread the fray block glue along the bottom seam. It will dry clear on most fabrics. When dry, trim loose threads and fabric.
3. If you want to use the button to open and close the collar, then make sure your new button fits the hole and replace the old one. Or you can sew Velcro in place of a button for easier access and then you can add a bigger button or other decoration to the front.
4. Decorate with trims and/or embroidery to your heart’s content! These can be sewed or glued with the permanent washable glue.
[Note: The collarettes are designed to fit loosely around your dog’s neck and are not intended for leash attachment.]
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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