Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Gifts I made this year

I've been giving handmade gifts since I was  a child, and it just wouldn't feel like Christmas if I wasn't sculpting sewing and knitting special creations for those I love.  I had a blast making this sculpture, which I gave to my best friend.
And you can see that her son enjoyed all the plush toys I made for him ;-)
And since my mother in law collects Santa Clauses, I thought she might like this sculpture.
This cute kitty was for my cat loving cousin ;-)
And this kitty was sculpted for my friend Matt, another cat lover (I seem to know a lot of cat lovers- LOL).
I made this whimsical blue bunny in red overalls for my uncle, who spent the spring and summer trying to keep bunnies out of his garden.  It gave both of us good laugh =D
And this one was for my dog loving uncle.  It resembles his own dog and he really liked it.
I made this cool dragon ornament for my little brother, who enjoys fantasy and dragons as much as I do.
And last but certainly not least, I made this fun scene for my mom.  I figured a dragon opening his presents on Christmas morning would give her a laugh ;-)  The boxes are full of beads and findings that resemble gold, diamonds, and gems.
I had a great Christmas with my family and enjoyed watching their reactions to the fun presents I made.  Giving truly is the best part of the holiday for me.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and will have a Happy and healthy New Year!
~Michelle of CreativeCritters

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My new kitten

Well I finally got a kitten!  I've been wanting to adopt a kitten for some time now.  Since Cedric passed away Calcifer has been very lonely, and the house just hasn't been the same without two cats running around.  So I went up to PetSmart last weekend where they had the local shelters offering cats and kittens for adoption.  Of course I saw lots of adorable kitties, but this little gray and white cutie really caught my eye.

We named him Ginko, after Ginko, the Mushi Master in the Japanese anime show, Mushi- Shi.  At first he was pretty shy and skittish, but this is a very loving, cat friendly household.  It didn't take Ginko long to realize that no one in this house was going to hurt him.  This new kitten was a Christmas/ birthday present for Calcifer, and he certainly seems to approve!  From the moment we brought the kitten home Calcifer has been keeping a watchful eye on him.  I think he likes being a big brother, and he's so gentle and careful when they play.
Of course being a kitten, he's curious about everything and has thoroughly investigated every room in the house, including my craft room.  I made sure to kitten proof the place, because I know they like to get into everything!  Calcifer is only two years old, so it hasn't been  too long since a kitten was roaming the house.  I still have to watch him when I'm sculpting to make sure he doesn't steal my tools!
I think Ginko's taking inventory here ;-)
Of course I have plenty of toys that the cats CAN play with.  Ginko has thrashed on all of them already- LOL!  The first thing he found, within an hour of being in the house, was Calcifer's catnip sack.  Ginko definitely likes catnip- he wrestled with that thing for about 20 minutes!  Luckily Calcifer doesn't seem to mind sharing his catnip toys, pipe cleaners, and various balls with his little brother. 
And the best gift for me?  Seeing the two of them like this.
It didn't take Ginko long at all to warm up to his big brother.  And how could anyone not love a creature as sweet as Calcifer?  Ginko has a very healthy appetite (look how big he is at only 3 1/2  months old!), loves to play (with both Calcifer and me), and purrs like a motorboat when I pet him.  And he does love getting petted!  He stretches out as long as he can so I'll be sure to get every spot- LOL.  He's still learning his boundaries (couches, chairs, and the bed are OK, dressers and tables aren't), but I can tell that he's smart, and it won't take him long to figure out where he's allowed and where he's not.  And Calcifer will help teach him as well.  That's another benefit to having two cats- the older one will help teach the younger one the rules (and what he can get away with).
And so I have two happy kitties once more, which of course makes me very happy as well.  You can be sure I'll be sharing more about both Calcifer and Ginko!  There will be pictures, blogs and videos filled with adorable felines- LOL!  Thank you for helping me welcome the newest member of my furry family! =)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How To Make a Teddy Bear Christmas Ornament in Polymer Clay

Just in time for Christmas, I finished my first full length video tutorial on sculpting a cute teddy bear ornament wearing a scarf and Santa hat.  This is a fairly easy sculpture to make and only requires a small amount of polymer clay and a few basic tools.
This bear is also available in my shop, just click the picture to be taken to his listing.
Thanks for watching!  Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

~Michelle of CreativeCritters
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Dealing with Calcifer kitty's stress during the holidays

Stress affects everyone, especially at this time of year.  Being a crafter at Christmas is a lot like being one of Santa's elves, and my own stress level inevitably ramps up during the holidays.  And then there's the added social gatherings, people coming over, and other changes in the day to day routine.   I recently put the house up for sale as well, which means I've spent a lot of time cleaning and packing things away.  Plus my sweet old Cedric kitty passed away several weeks ago.  So that all adds up to a lot of change, disruption, and stress, not only in my life, but in Calcifer's life.  He's always been a very sensitive cat when it comes to picking up on my moods and feelings, so I'm not surprised that all of this affected him.  Normally he's fairly calm and relaxed and not bothered by too much, but a few days ago he started acting strange.  His skin would twitch, then he'd frantically wash his shoulder or paw for a few seconds, then he'd run fearfully across the room to hide behind or under something.  I couldn't find any skin problems, fleas, or ear mites, so I did a little research online and learned that in all likelihood it's a condition called  Feline hyperesthesia syndrom
The symptoms include: 
  • Rippling of the skin over the back
  • Muscle spasms and twitching
  • Twitching of the tail.
  • Cats may exhibit strange behaviors in response to touching such as tail chasing, biting at the tail, flank and sides, to the point of self-directed aggression. They run, jump, hallucinate, vocalize, and even turn around and hiss. 
Some factors that can trigger anxiety include:

  • moving to a new home
  • a change your schedule
  • the addition or subtraction of a family member, including other animals
  • aggression among cats in the household
  • moving furniture around
  • seeing a new animal outside
  • boredom and frustration

Calcifer had only been acting strange for two days, but I didn't want it to get any worse, so I ordered the Feliway diffuser and spray.  I didn't want to see my friendly, loving cat turn into a fearful anxious animal who couldn't relax!  Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure, so I had a feeling this would help Calcifer.  While I waited for the Feliway to arrive I did all I could to keep my kitty calm, happy, and engaged.  I moved one of his scratching posts under the window in my workout room (one of his favorite places), played with him more, and tried to distract him when I would notice him starting to go into one of his "freak outs".
When the package got here I plugged the diffuser in right away.  It didn't take long at all to notice the effect on Calcifer.  He lounged on his newspapers without having to leap up and run away, he cuddled with me repeatedly throughout the day, which is normal for him, and as an added bonus he started sitting on my lap while I worked on the computer (that's where he's at right now).  He's been more playful and much happier.  He still has the occasional freak out, but now it only lasts a few seconds. 

When his big brother Cedric was alive he loved rubbing his cheeks against just about any vertical surface, leaving his "happy kitty pheromones" all over the place.  Calcifer loved smelling (and even biting and licking) the spots where Cedric rubbed.  The thing is, he never could figure out how to rub against corners and things like that.  He rubs his chin on horizontal objects, but I don't think it's quite the same effect.  With Cedric no longer here to refresh those feel good pheromones, I think Calcifer is really missing out.  Which is another reason I plan on getting a kitten for him just as soon as I can.  He'll have a little friend to play with and keep him occupied, as well as rub against things the way most cats do when they're happy.
So that's what's been going on with me and my Calcifer kitty lately.  I'm just thankful I was able to figure out the problem and find a solution that works.  Just seeing Calcifer go back to his normal self has reduced my own stress dramatically.

~Michelle of CreativeCritters
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Friday, December 2, 2011

A special necklace becomes a special Christmas gift

 A few weeks ago I made a new Christmas necklace from hand rolled polymer clay beads and some vintage beads and findings from Gramma's jewelry box.  I made the clay beads using leftover red and white clay from some candy cane pens (which can be found in my shop). The teardrop shaped pendant was also sculpted from this red and white mix.  I wanted something special for the center of the pendant so I dug through some of the vintage jewelry Gramma had given me before she passed away.  Gramma was pretty rough on her jewelry, so many of her earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets were broken.  Those broken bits and pieces still work for my purposes though.  I managed to find a broken earring with sparkling imitation diamonds that made the perfect centerpiece for the pendant.
The tiny green glass seed beads around the outside of the pendant are from Gramma's bead stash, as are the hollow silver beads, the green acrylic beads, and the white iridescent disc beads.  Before her arthritis got too bad Gramma enjoyed beading ornaments, among other crafty things. This pretty holiday necklace is a combination of my handmade beads and Gramma's vintage beads- there's a lot of love and a lot of history in this necklace. 
Over the holidays my best friend came for a visit, and as always, she checked out all the new things I had made since she last saw me.  She really liked this necklace, and when I told her about Gramma's contribution she liked it even more.  She decided it would make a very special gift for her mom, and to make it more special she decided to have her son give it to her for Christmas.  That way it would be from one Gramma to another.  I'm really glad this special necklace is going to become such a special Christmas gift!

~Michelle of CreativeCritters
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