Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to Make Needle Felted Mushrooms and baby ferns - a fun craft for even the craft-phobic!

I don't consider myself a "crafty" person, but I so enjoy needle felting. It's easy, relaxing and even a novice can turn out a nice product. It is an inexpensive craft to both start and maintain.

Here are the instructions for how to make some really cute Needle Felted Mushrooms and baby ferns (called fiddleheads). For basic instructions on the technique, please view this YouTube video before beginning.

100% wool roving (Hobby Lobby carries small amounts from "Felt Works" for $1.99 that are perfect for this project. For larger amounts, order online.)
Felting needle refill (here it is at Hobby Lobby for $7.99) You will use the needle alone, not in a holder.
piece of styrofoam
Here is a nice needle and foam set for $3.99
Here is a starter set for $19.95

First take a nice amount of white wool roving for the mushroom cap. Always make the cap first so you can make an appropriate sized stem for it later.

Shape it into a circle. It doesn't have to be perfect. Start punching into the wool. The fibers become tangled and start to compact together to form the cap of the mushroom.  WARNING: the needle is very sharp and very brittle. Don't do this while you are distracted or when watching TV. You WILL poke yourself and it won't be fun. Don't bend the needle. Go in straight and come out staight. Go slow at first.

Punch several times and move the mushroom cap to prevent it from being embedded into the styrofoam. Turn it over and get the other side too. CAREFULLY punch the side of the cap to form the shape you like.

Now let's do the stem. Take a long piece of roving and roll it up.

Once it is rolled up, hold it tight and start punching where the loose fibers were the end of the roll so that the fibers tangle and it doesn't come unrolled. Then start punching it all over the stem so it is nice and firm. Leave the ends of the stem loose so that you can attach them later to the cap of the mushroom and the "dirt" base we will make later.

Now attach the stem to the cap. Punch from the underside of the mushroom cap all around at an angle to secure the stem. Be sure and go straight in and out at the same angle or your needle with break.

Here is the finished mushroom.

Uh oh, I got my yougest hooked on this! I would NOT recommend a child do this craft. He only begged so much and I constantly supervised him. He did poke himself.

My son will demonstrate how to make the "dirt". Take a nice amount of brown or black wool roving and form it into a sort of oval. If you are putting it into a container, use the base of the container as your guide to how big your "dirt" should be. The more you poke it, the flatter it will be. Don't get it too flat. You want to have some fibers to help the mushrooms and baby ferns stick to it. You can poke on the sides of the "dirt" to make the diameter smaller. Now attach the bottom of the mushrooms into the dirt the same way you attached the stems to the cap. That's it!

Baby Ferns or "fiddleheads". They seem to go naturally with the mushrooms. I used green and brown roving.

First, I made a long "snake" with the green roving. I rubbed it between my hands to compact the fibers a bit and then I needled it a bit to make it firm.

Then I wound the snake around a bamboo skewer.

I took it off the skewer and needled it a bit to keep the curl from coming apart.

I took a very small amount of brown roving. This is the "hair" of the baby fern.

I layed it gentle on the top of the baby fern and needled it a few times to keep it in place. Gently here.

Here is my first attempt at a "cricket".

Winter Wonderland Wedding Reception

I was very excited when a friend of mine asked me to help with the decorations for her son's wedding reception. He had actually gotten married in another state, but she wanted to throw a reception here in Texas so that we could all celebrate and meet the new bride. Her budget was tight. Since the reception was to be held in December, what a better theme than "Winter Wonderland" with Christmas decorations? I already own an obscene amount of Christmas decorations in white and silver, so we actually only purchased an additional $10 worth of decorations that I could not reuse in my own Christmas decor. Yes, you read that right. She spent $10 out of pocket for decorations. She wanted everything to be simply decorated.  My usual motto of "if something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing" had to be reined in here. It all worked perfectly. The bride and groom were not picky about the theme and my client is easy to please. Another of her dear friends handled the food. What a joy to do this job! I recruited my willing friend Janet (thank heavens for Janet) and my two boys (they are the best) to help with the labor, and off we went.

We used a lot of white with silver items. Christmas greenery added some nice natural color and emphasized our outdoor theme. White lights were everywhere we could stick them. We didn't forget the rest of the senses. We had Christmas music playing in the background and we had Christmas tree and pumpkin spice candles from the Legendary Candle Company wafting Christmas smells through the air. Janet let us borrow 6 small decorative trees to add to our forest. We used white sheets around the base to mimic snow. We used some uplights with blue bulbs to create a beautiful wintry effect on the walls. A nighttime, it would have been more dramatic.

The cake table decorated with a small decorated tree, sleigh, poinsettias and Christmas greenery. Netting with lights and iridescent snow highlighted the table.
I made tender lemon butter cookies decorated as snowflakes with silver and pearl candy accents. I am no Martha Stewart, but these are so delicious no one notices!

The simple small guest table decorations were borrowed mirrors, snowflake ornament and tree candles sprinkled with iridescent snow and confetti.
Homemade snowflakes on the glass front of the church added a wintry touch. Thanks to my boys for helping me with these.

These trees sat at the entrance. Placing them on a table gave added height to these small trees.

 The adorable couple 

Gail supplied a feast for the eyes and tummy!

Gail, the friend doing all the delicious food, made these gorgeous cheese balls in the shape of Pine cones to compliment the decor. She graciously agreed to supply me with the recipe. Yes, those are almonds!

Pine cone Cheese Ball

Mix together in mixer:
16 oz. softened cream cheese
8 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1-1 oz. pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. real bacon pieces

When mixed well, shape into large pine cone, chill. Place on dish and position whole almonds over surface slightly overlapped, starting at the small end. Garnish with rosemary sprigs to resemble pine branches.
Here is the recipe for the punch Gail had. I'm always looking for a good punch recipe. This one was tops! There are some ingredients that must be frozen ahead of time, so plan ahead before jumping into this recipe.
Luscious Slush Punch
2 1/2 cups white sugar
6 cups water
2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry flavored gelatin mix
1 (46 fluid ounce) can pineapple juice
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 quart orange juice
2 (2 liter) bottles lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, water, and strawberry flavored gelatin. Boil for 3 minutes. Stir in pineapple juice, lemon juice, and orange juice. Divide mixture in half, and freeze in 2 separate containers. Gail used ziplock freezer bags.

When ready to serve, place the frozen contents of one container in a punch bowl, and stir in 1 bottle of lemon-lime soda until slushy. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

A peek at the Christmas Decorations - Part 2

Here is more of our 2010 Christmas Decor. Let me take you on a tour...

I've fallen in love with sparkly acorns and have a good collection of them now.

Tea time anyone? Pass the scones! I'm adding to my collection of Christmas tea cups every year. I also started collecting antique post cards. For someone that says they don't do any collecting, I sure do collect a lot of Christmas items!

I found this little beauty in an antique store in town. It has a strange irridescent green color with raised gold decoration and the word "Present" on the side. It says "Made in Germany" on the bottom, but no other maker marks. I've done some research on it, but haven't found out anything about it.

My little Currier and Ives village. Growing up in Louisiana, I'm fascinated with the idea that a small town is transformed into a winter wonderland overnight.

My Jewish village nativity scene. I received this as a birthday gift many years ago. Mary and Joseph move closer to the stable each day. On Christmas morning, we place the baby Jesus in the scene. A tangible way we remember the meaning of the celebration of Christmas.

The mantle

The tree

The two doves on our tree have special meaning. They were given to us at my husband father's funeral for each of our children. A beautiful reminder of their Grandaddy on the Christmas tree each year.

I love this feathery tree topper. Purchased locally from a small shop many years ago.

Closeups of the tree ornaments

Table topper

I love these ornament mushrooms

A bird nest decoration for the post in our home. You see it right when you walk in the house.


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