Back to Melty Goodness… Part 2

Having finally figured out where my photos go to when I sync my phone, I was able to recover some more photos of the melted crayon art I posted in Melty Goodness.  So, for those of you who were wondering what happened to the rest of that post… here it is!

So. When last we’d left you, I’d pointed out the importance of using a new glue gun and not one that had already had glue in.  I’m going to assume you’ve procured such a glue gun.  Now, a note on temperatures:  Low temp glue guns will work, but the process will be slow. You will have to wait for the gun to melt the crayon and then apply it to the canvas.  This is the “hurry up and wait” method, because once melted, a crayon goes really quickly.  But you have to wait to melt it. When these crayons come out of the glue gun, they are *just* melted.  They will drip and run a bit, but overall they keep a decent amount of viscosity.

Hot temp glue guns will work just fine too, but they will be extremely quick.  The crayons practically liquify in it, and that makes for almost an ink-like consistency of the crayon coming out of the glue gun, to the point that if you’re not careful, you’re going to be flinging hot wax where you don’t want it.  However, hot temp glue guns will make the project go much more quickly.

Which is better? I have used both, and it just depends on what kind of mood I’m in.  For the project pictured here, I mostly used the hot-temp setting on my glue gun, because I’m impatient. 🙂

On my project, I used a Cricut to cut out letters to spell the word “CREATE” and stuck them on the vinyl prior to using the crayons.  They acted as a mask, so after the crayons cooled, I used an Xacto knife to cut around the letters, peel them off, and voila! Negative space focal points, ready made.

So now you’re ready to melt some crayons!  This process is really simple.  Insert peeled crayon into glue gun, wait for it to melt.  Prop your canvas up at an angle, so the crayon will run down it.  (You can also draw with the glue gun, have the canvas on a turn-table and spin it while you drip wax… use your imagination.)  Apply the tip of the glue gun close to the top of the canvas and hold it there while using the trigger to let the melted crayon out of the gun.  Keep it in the same spot, and the crayon will run down itself.

and after a while, you’re going to have this.  This shows the vinyl letters after half of them have been peeled away.

Keep in mind when you’re switching colors between crayons that it’s easier to go from lighter to darker than from darker to lighter.  A little bit of the melted crayon from the past color will mix with the current color at the beginning, so while it’s interested to get a yellow to an orange, going from a orange to a purple might not work so well. 

But feel free to experiment! You really can’t mess this up.

Inspiration Station: “WWJD: What Would Jim Do?”

As I checked my inbox this morning, I was reminded by a blog post that today is an anniversary.  Danny the Puppet posted a great video blog about Remembering Jim Henson.

You see, twenty-two years ago today, the world lost one of the greatest artistic visionaries that has ever graced our planet.  Multiple biographies have been written about Jim Henson, his vision, his puppets, his life, so I’m not going to bore you here by rehashing the highlights.  You know he’s the Man behind the Muppets, Sesame Street, the Fraggles, the Creature Shop, and the lot. 

Instead, I’m going to write a bit about how Jim’s inspired me, and how I look at my life through frog-tinted glasses: What Would Jim Do?

I can’t believe I’m sitting here crying while I’m writing this.  Perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic.  It’s hard to put into words just exactly what I’ve learned from Jim, even though I was only 7 when he passed away, and I never had any direct contact with him personally. I only know of him what I’ve seen through the television and what I’ve read in books. 

Still, I can see his influence in my life every day:

“I have a dream, too.  It’s about singing, and dancing, and making people happy — the Kind of dream that just gets better the more people you share it with.” — A quote from Kermit/Jim that hangs on computer in my office and on my wall in my studio.  They’re not huge framed posters.  Just those powerful words scrawled across a post-it note.  It reminds me to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle, and that more people than just me really do like to sing and dance and just be happy.

I’ve developed a curricula of puppet classes – construction and performance techinque – that I teach three times a year at a local arts center with continually sold out classes.  This will be my third year of teaching it, and in every class, I use You Tube footage of Jim and the Muppets to teach the next generation about puppetry and acting.  So far, the two crowning moments of my puppet class are that a) a young man who was turning 11 asked his mom to get him a Jo Ann Fabrics gift card for his birthday so he could buy puppet making supplies and b) my kids last semester made, completely on their own, Sesame-Street inspired videos teaching kids about letters.  I’m working with a local school to get those videos used in their kindergarten and first grade classes.  I credit the fact that I’ve been able to teach these classes with such passion to Jim, who inspired me first.

When I first watched the new Muppets movie, I completely identified with the character of Walter:  “But then… I found them.”  And again, with my melodramatic side, I cried buckets at the end (you can ask my best friend who went to the movie with me. I think I embarrassed her), when Walter is faced with the choice of joining Kermit as one of them and going back to Smalltown with Gary and Mary.  I could completely put myself in that position and see the other Muppeteers saying, “Come with us, Candice. You’re one of us!”  And my heart aches because really, when it comes right down to it, that’s what I want to do with my life, and I don’t see how I would ever get there: an impossible dream, to work with the Jim Henson Company, but I don’t see why I can’t dream it.

I cry every time I hear “Rainbow Connection.”  And some days it seems “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green” is my personal theme song. I have worn out my completely dog-eared-falling-apart-highlighted-and-doodled copy of “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green: And Other Things to Consider” that I scrounged from a bargain bin at the local Goodwill. And while I know there are plenty of others out there who are much more talented than me in puppet performance and who are much more skilled than me in puppet construction, I know that no one else has the same fire that burns inside my heart when it comes to watching the joy that puppets can bring to people. 

So thank you, Jim.  Thank you for my childhood.  Thank you for your visions.  Thank you for your legacy, but most of all, thank you for giving me fire and purpose and drive and a means to share the third greatest gift in the world: Laughter.

THANK YOU. From the lovers, the dreamers, and Me.

Quick Project – Plarned Reusable Shopping Tote

Now that we’ve learned about Plarn and know how to make our own Balls of Plarn, how about a project?

The finished plarn bag! Quick and easy and wonderfully multicolored due to the miscellaneous plastic bags and yarn scraps woven in.

I made this bag in about 2 days, including making all the plarn that goes in it.  I wanted a large (seriously this bag is massive!) reusable shopping tote that I could schlep to my local farmer’s market and not worry about putting fresh-out-of-the-ground produce in it.

Completed, this bag is strong (I tossed 30 lbs worth of dumbbells in it and it stretched and held them just fine — see why I mentioned that using thick pieces of plarn is a bonus?) and washable (I’ve honestly washed mine down with the garden hose!) and a fun project, especially for those who are beginning to crochet. 

The entire bag is completed with single crochet stitches, and the trim is done with slip stitches.  For the bag that is pictured, I also used scraps of colored yarn I had lying around just to add some funk and interest.

Materials needed:
Size S crochet hook
Lots and lots and lots of plarn – (Make far more plarn than you think you will need.  Each loop makes about 3 SC’s.)
Scrap yarn if you wish to add color accents.
Optional: Fishing Line to reinforce Handles.

Constructing the bottom:

Row 1 – Working with both strands together (yarn and plarn), Chain however many stitches you want for the length of your finished bag. (I did 25).  Ch 1 and turn.
Rows 2 – 10ish –  Work in even SC to the width that you desire for your bag, using a Ch 1 and turn at the end of each row.  (I did 10 rows.  You can do more or less based on what you want for the size Because the plarn is so thick, I worked my SC’s in the back loops only, but that can be personal preference.)

This is the bottom of the bag, about halfway through. This is about 5 rows of the 10 that I ended up using.

Making the Sides of the Bag – Work in Rounds

Round 1 – 1 SC in each stitch around the outside of the bag. Join at first SC with a SL ST. CH 1 to begin next round and continue WITHOUT TURNING.
Rounds 2 –  SC in each stitch around the bag.  Eventually the sides of the bag will form up as you do this. 

This photo shows how the sides of the bag eventually form as you continue to work SC's in each stitch around the bag.

Repeat Round 2 as many times as you want the heigh of your bag.

Adding Handles:

After finishing the round that marks the height of your bag, use 4 scrap pieces of yarn to mark where you want the handles to go.  (I didn’t use a scientific method for this.  I just held open the bag and eyeballed where I wanted my handles to go.)

The open bag from the top to show approximate handle placement.

Handle Row:
1 – SC in each stitch around to the marked stitch that begins your handle.  ***Double chain 25 stitches for the length of your handle (Ch 1, *YO in prior stitch and pull up 1 loop, YO and pull through both loops*  Repeat between the stars counts as 1 double chain) SC back to the bag at the next marked stitch. ***  SC in each stitch around until you get to the next marked stitch. Repeat Handle (areas between ***’s).  SC in each stitch around until you get to the beginning of the round. Tie off your yarn/Plarn.

2 – Handle Reinforcement: Attach yarn and fishing line (in contrasting or same color, your choice) to the connecting point of 1 handle. SL ST (using yarn / fishing line as 1) in each stitch of handle. Continue SL ST from handle to top of bag under handle and around the top of the bag to the next handle.  SL ST around second handle the same as the first.  Fasten off.

 

That’s it!  This is the first pattern I’ve attempted to write down as I’ve made it (normally I’m just a “make it up as you go along” type of person, so feel free to add, embellish, alter, or offer suggestions on what I’ve posted here.)  Thanks for viewing and enjoy your plarning!