Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Creative Challenge

Each Christmas for the past few years my friend Marian and I exchange 'kits'.  (We give each other real presents, too, but this is one of our most anticipated parts of our holiday gift boxes!).  It started a few years ago when I was having a creative struggle and I was wanting to challenge myself to try new things.  I had the idea that we should each put together a collection of five random supplies and we would each come up with a project using those supplies.  We put together a few 'rules', giving us plenty of creative freedom, but also adding some structure to the project.

Here are the rules:

1.  We each put together a kit of five random supplies.  We are not allowed to purchase anything for the kits, since we each have an over-abundance of supplies on hand. 

2.  There should be enough supplies in each kit to execute two projects--one to keep, one to give.

3.  We are allowed to add up to three additional supplies to the kit. 

4. Certain basic supplies are 'free'.  Paint, adhesives, any fasteners, ink, etc.  We can also add more of a given supply.  For example, if buttons are in the kit, we can use as many more buttons as we want

5.  Projects must be completed by Valentine's Day.  (This rule is flexible, but we generally shoot for some time in February.)

So, today I am going to share my experience with the kit Marian put together.  Tomorrow Marian will be guest blogging about her own project.  Here goes:

Marian's Kit
Three wool felt squares
A pile of thin cardboard pieces, 4-7/8" x 5-3/8"
An assortment of buttons
A small bag with about a jillion sequins
A jelly roll (which is a roll of fabric strips 1-1/2" x 22")

I don't sew.  Well, I can sew, but not well.  Marian sews.  Well.  Her kits almost always include fabric, so I'm always trying to find a creative way to use it without having to sew anything. 

I tossed around several ideas for this kit.  Most of them were lame and I can't even really remember what they were.  I could do a mixed media collage, which seemed a little predictable.  Then I had what I thought was a great idea....paper dolls!  I could cut the dolls from the cardboard, make some little clothes from the fabrics, trim them with the embellishments, add some fiber for hair and maybe even a polymer clay face.  Sounds great, right?  Well, here is what I came up with:

Oh, wait!!  Those aren't paper dolls!!  Yeah, well, when I sat down to start that project I discovered that it was going to be far too much work for the timeframe of the project.  So I changed courses midstream and came up with this mobile instead. 

Here is what I did:

I used my Cricut machine to die-cut three different shaped flowers from the cardboard.  Then I covered each flower, front and back, with fabric.  My jelly roll had prints in pink, turquoise, red, yellow, and white.  I chose to use a red, turquoise, and pink color scheme for one mobile, and a pink, yellow, and turquoise for the other. 

I used the felt squares to cut centers for the flowers.  Marian had included turquoise, red and olive green.  I have wool felt in my stash of supplies, so I added pink to match some of the fabrics. 

I accented the flower centers with buttons.  I used all of the ones Marian included and had to dig through my button boxes to have enough.  At first I only put the centers on one side of the flowers, but as I was assembling the mobile, I realized that they needed to be on both sides. 

The sequins were my real 'challenge' in this kit.  In the end I sorted out the flower shaped ones and strung them on to the fishing line.  That seemed a little bit like a cop-out, so I also glued them on to the centers of the buttons.  I didn't even come close to using them all, but I had used enough to satisfy the challenge.

To assemble the mobile, I added these three supplies:

Not a good picture, sorry.  I used a 4" wooden embroidery hoop, a piece of nylon mesh that came wrapped around a turkey (I save all sorts of 'junk'--you just never know!), and a piece of ribbon.

I stretched the nylon mesh between the hoop so I would have something to dangle the flowers from.  I trimmed the hoop with the ribbon.  Then I tied the flowers on using varying lengths of fishing line. 

The biggest challenge of this project became how to hang the mobile so the hoop would stay relatively level.  In comes my husband, David, who is very good at engineering things like this.  We developed a plan to tie more fishing line in four places and then string it up through a four-holed button.  Then I tied the ends to a ring so it could hang from a cup hook.

As per the rules, I made two.  One to keep.  One to give to Marian. 

I gave Marian the pink one, because she has little accents of pink in her studio.  The red and turquoise one worked best in my studio.

I am really pleased with how this project turned out.  I'm excited to have Marian here tomorrow, to show and tell her project.

Happy Wednesday!

PS...Sorry about the quality of the photos.  It was back to the point and shoot for this project.


  1. This is so cool. Mine is hanging in my studio and I love it. Well done!!!!

    1. OK--this comment was actually published by Marian! We've had some difficulties getting blogger to cooperate with a 'guest blogger', so she had to sign in as me for a little while. I'm not so arrogant as to post how cool my mobile is hanging in my own studio! LOL!! :D

  2. As always, you had another fun kit 'challenge' in front of you and executed it well. I'm excited to see Marian's. It's awesome how different your projects come out with the same supplies.

    1. That's the real fun in the challenge, is seeing how two different, creative minds work with the same supplies. We enjoy it so much we wish we could do it more than once a year!