PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Archive for December, 2009

polymer clay R2-D2 sculpture

…a project 3 years in the making.

Way back in January 2007, I posted a cryptic wip (work-in-progress) of a FIMO sculpture I’d started:

polymer clay stulpture... in progress!
Can you tell what it is yet? 😉

Yes, I’m a lifelong Star Wars geek, and I was making a model R2-D2. I finished and baked the head, and then… nothing. I’d actually intimidated myself – the head was so detailed and so good that I didn’t think I’d be able to make a body to do justice to it! Also, I really wanted the head to be jointed so that it could rotate, and I wasn’t quite sure how to accomplish that. I filled a page in my notebook with sketches and ideas, but I never got any further than that. And the  longer I waited, the less likely it became that I’d ever finish my R2 project 🙁

This Christmas, I decided that after working myself so hard for an entire year (never work for me – I am a demanding boss!) I’d take a week off to spend time with Dave and just relax. And relaxing, for me, involves making stuff, so I got out the FIMO and set to work. A week and many baking sessions in the toaster oven later, here is the finished R2-D2:

polymer clay R2-D2 by planetjune
I strongly suggest you click through to see the larger picture! You can’t really see the detail at this scale.

I am so happy with how he turned out! He is perfectly hand-sized at 8cm (just over 3″) tall, and he comes with a secret special feature: yep, I managed to get that rotating head working! I embedded a rare earth magnet into his body, and stuck a second magnet to the base of his head. This lets the head rotate smoothly and freely. Not sure what I’m talking about? Here’s a shot of the inside:

polymer clay R2-D2 by planetjune - head rotation mechanism

(The purple clay inside the body is just a core I made by smushing all my leftover unbaked scraps from past FIMO projects together. As it doesn’t show in the finished piece, there’s no point in wasting a huge lump of new clay, so I made a cylinder from the scrap clay, baked it, and then covered it in a sheet of white clay to form the torso.)

The head magnet fits perfectly inside the recessed hole. There’s a second magnet just beneath the surface of the clay at the bottom of the hole, so the head doesn’t fall off the body but can swivel freely. The rare earth magnets are so strong that, even when separated by a thin layer of clay, you can safely lift R2 by his head and his body will stay firmly attached. Here’s a little animation of his head moving:

polymer clay R2-D2 by planetjune

This project was a great break from my normal life. I love the enforced calm that comes with my polymer clay work.  It’s so detailed and precise that I have to empty my mind and just concentrate on slicing off that sliver of clay, or smoothing out that fingerprint – it’s almost meditative. My batteries are recharged and I’m ready to tackle 2010!

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happy christmas!

Happy Christmas from PlanetJune.com

Comments (2)

chocolate truffles recipe

Ahh, it’s Christmas! I made a batch of chocolate truffles yesterday, and mmmmm, they are so good! I wish I could give one to each of you, but as that’s a little unfeasible, my gift to you is the recipe so you can make your own. They only take a few minutes to make (plus time to set) and make lovely gifts, if you can bear to part with any! I think they are out-of-this-world delicious with Tia Maria, but you can use your favourite spirit instead – rum, Kahlua, etc – or even omit the alcohol and substitute with the same volume of milk for a teetotal version.

Happy Christmas!

chocolate truffles by planetjune

Chocolate Truffles (makes approx 30)

Ingredients

  • 4 oz / 120 g chocolate (semi-sweet or unsweetened)
  • 10 oz / 300 g / 2 ¼ cups icing sugar (aka powdered/confectioners’ sugar), sifted
  • 2 oz / 60 g / ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp Tia Maria (or alcohol of choice)
  • Optional: chocolate sprinkles, cocoa powder or icing sugar for decoration

Method

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  2. Add alcohol and stir to blend.
  3. Gradually add the sifted sugar and stir until all the sugar has been incorporated.
  4. Divide the mixture into approx 30 pieces and roll each piece into a ball in your hands.
  5. Roll each ball in chocolate sprinkles, cocoa powder or more icing sugar (or leave plain if preferred).
  6. Place each truffle into a paper case and leave to set for 4-5 hours.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container – they will keep for weeks, but I doubt they’ll last that long!

chocolate truffles by planetjune

Bon appetit, and happy holidays!

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holiday sale and clear eyes!

I guess you like the idea of clear eyes to use for amigurumi etc: 77% of you who voted in my poll said that you’d definitely be interested if I started selling them. Well, your wish is my command – I now have clear eyes available in the PlanetJune store in 9mm, 10mm, 12mm and 15mm sizes! (I’ve just ordered these sizes as a trial run, so if you’re looking for different sizes please let me know.)

clear animal eyes for amigurumi

As I mentioned in my previous post, clear eyes have several advantages:

  • You can paint the flat back of the eye with acrylic paint to get the exact shade you want.
  • Feeling artistic? Create customized eyes with paint effects – paint spots, stripes, starbursts etc on the back of the eye first, let it dry, then coat the entire back of the eye with the base colour.
  • Don’t like painting? No problem! Just cut a square of felt a little larger than the eye, snip a little cross shape in the middle to poke the shaft of the eye through, then trim the felt so it is the same size as the eye – easy! (Blue and pink felt eyes pictured below)

clear animal eyes with felt colours for amigurumi

By the way, the prices of all my eyes (clear and solid black) are now automatically discounted if you buy 10 or more pairs of a single size and type 🙂

And now onto the holiday sale…

From now until December 24th, all patterns (crochet patterns, punchneedle patterns, and The Punchneedle Handbook) will be automatically discounted by 10% in the shop. You don’t need a voucher code – this sale is available to everyone! This is your last chance to buy patterns at 2009 prices, and the last sale of this year, so you’ll never see prices lower than these. Multipack sets are also discounted, so you can get an even better deal there!

some PlanetJune patterns!
A small sampling of the crochet patterns you’ll find in the PlanetJune Shop

Happy Holidays from PlanetJune! I hope you’ll enjoy the pattern sale and take this opportunity to try out some clear eyes too. And don’t forget: PlanetJune Gift Certificates would make a great Christmas present for the crocheters on your list!

Comments (2)

which is the ‘right’ side?

Amigurumi are typically crocheted in the round, in a continuous spiral, which means that the two sides of the crocheted fabric that is produced will look completely different. You can choose which side faces out by flipping the piece inside out at any stage before closing up the piece, and then continuing to spiral around. It doesn’t really matter which side faces out, unless you want to use the invisible decrease technique, in which the ‘right side’ of the fabric has to face outward for the decreases to be invisible.

I keep getting asked which side is the ‘right side’, so I thought I’d put this side-by-side comparison together to show you the differences between the two sides.

UPDATED: See also my video tutorial (right- and left-handed versions) to see the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides forming as I work, and watch how I can switch between them.

The ‘Right’ Side

the 'right' side of a spiral-crocheted piece

  • Each stitch looks like a V shape (I’ve highlighted one in white for you).
  • Note also that you can see the sideways V shapes around the edge that you will crochet into to form the next round.

The ‘Wrong’ Side

the 'wrong' side of a spiral-crocheted piece

  • Each stitch looks (to me, at least) like a pi symbol (π) – but maybe that’s just my geek side coming out again! Otherwise, you could say it looks like a little table – an upside down V with a bar on the top – again, I’ve highlighted one stitch in white for you. You won’t see any of those horizontal bars if you look at the right side – that’s a big clue.
  • Also, the sideways V shapes around the edge of your piece will be facing to the other side, so you won’t be able to see them.

Also, if you’re working ‘inside out’, you’ll be working around the inside rim of the piece – see my Worked inside out section for an illustration of what I mean by that. You’ll probably find that when you start crocheting an amigurumi piece, this is the way the piece will naturally want to curve. You can just flip it inside out so it faces the ‘right’ way after you’ve crocheted a few rounds, and then continue to work around the outside rim after that.

I hope this has helped you to be able to tell the difference between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides – and once again I’d like to stress that I’m only calling them ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ by convention: there is nothing wrong in having the ‘wrong’ side face out if you prefer the look of the stitches that way, or it’s just what you’re used to. Just remember, if you want to use invisible decreases (which I do recommend; they’ll make your pieces look soo much neater!) you’ll have to crochet with the ‘right’ side facing out 🙂

UPDATE It just occurred to me to add this: If you’re following a pattern that includes complex colour changes (not just simple stripes), or with some stitches worked in back loops or front loops only, you should make sure you’re working the piece the same way out as the designer intended – it will make a difference to the finished appearance!

Comments (21)

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    June Gilbank

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