Testing Critters for Outside Use

As my critter plant stakes gain popularity, the question of how they hold up outside is asked. So in April I put together a dragonfly that has a variety of materials waxed in for testing.

I have some alcohol inks that are designed for metal and others that are not, so I painted parts of the dragonfly with various colors. I also tried colored wax, and left some parts ‘bare’.

Then I hung it outside to brave the elements. I used various types of gift tissue paper, a colored teabag and a scrap of cotton fabric to test.

That evening while I was at a pop-up we had a rainstorm, and I got to peek at the dragonfly when I returned.

The droplets just hung out on the waxed paper.

But the next morning you could see rusty spots.

I don’t mind that patina, but some people might.

Another rainstorm happened in daytime, and I checked out the dragonfly again.

I noticed the rainbow markers were runny, and I observed additional rusty spots.

So I purchased permanent markers for additional research. How cool is it that my business expense is rainbow markers?

I colored a new teabag for testing (original markers, rained out markers, permanent markers below).

I also decided to replace one piece of tissue with a handmade paper scrap to see how that holds up. Then I touched up rusty spots with colored wax to see how that holds up for the purists.

For now, rainstorms don’t bother the dragonfly structurally, and the paper/fabric remained attached.

I am curious what hot summer temperatures will bring, but my guess is that as long as the dragonfly just hangs out and doesn’t get handled in the heat, the paper or fabric will hold up fine.

Soon I will be checking some fabric versions of a ladybug too, since I have a second hook on my porch. Dragonfly 2.0 is awaiting the next rainshower. 

Unfortunately my web shop is undergoing repair right now, so you don’t see the full catalogue of my pieces there. You can check out the Hip Circle Empowerment Center, Sacred Art, ReVive Consignment and the Evanston Art Center Pop-up Shop for select pieces at retail shops.

I can also make custom designs of course, just pop me a message and peruse my Facebook page for samples.

Making Plant Stake Critters

I have distributed plant stakes at 3 locations this week, which means a lot of stake-making happened over the past month.

Staying focused to pick up more wire was indeed a danger zone during my hardware store trip.

Something compelled me to make stakes late last year, but then winter happened and ornament production kicked in. With spring/summer finally emerging, I decided to make more dragonflies and also play with ladybug designs.

I had to allocate enough pieces for Evanston Made, my own Pop-ups, a Sacred Art Consignment, and the new Hip Circle Empowerment Center Retail Zone.

There are popular colors, and then I keep finding scraps I want to play with, so it required some focus to get it all done. Shopping sprees also provide more fun colors.

I created a design on my Now That’s A Jig for the dragonfly. The ladybug is just two rounds and then I hand-bend the wings and the dots.

Then I cut out the patterns and place them on my palette to be waxed.

I fuse the paper layers onto the wire.

After that, I cut the paper or fabric to size.

It is easy to poke my eye out in the process, but so far so good. I also keep discovering new scratches on my arms…

Some stakes are embellished with alcohol inks, and I have one dragonfly hanging out on my porch to test all that for weather-fastness.

Rain causes a little bit of rust, and we’ll see what the sun does in terms of heat and fading.

Stakes are hard to photograph, so I need to figure out the setup for that if I load them to the shop.

Bouquets need a better backdrop as well.

I also wasn’t thrilled with the old bottles to use as a display.

So I scoped out Everlasting Fire Studio’s new glass vase designs that they debuted at a recent trunk show.

Based on my stake height they created two larger versions for me, and I love this much more than the recycled pieces.

I will still use the bottles as ‘car seats’ for my critters.

On Tuesday I dropped off my pieces at the former Hip Circle Studio.

Tonight the Hip Circle Empowerment Center makes its debut (changing Hip Circle from for-profit to not-for-profit) and the Women-Powered Retail Zone will be open for business.

I made special pieces for the occasion.

Class-goers have already admired all the gorgeous goodies by The Collage Cafe, Rita Shimelfarb, Golden Sapphire, See Jane Sparkle, Strait Jacket, Maike’s Marvels, Chai Wolfman, and Rock These Socks. We’ll be up for a month or two until the retail Zone features other woman makers, so you’d better shop during their new business hours.

The Women-Powered Retail Zone is open: 3 to 6 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,  1 to 4 pm Fridays, 15 minutes before & after all classes/workshops, and during the Custer Fair June 17 & 18. Here’s to my creatures flying off to new homes.

I also tagged a bunch for the Evanston Made pop-up shop at the Evanston Art Center, which opens tomorrow evening to the public.

All that spread-sheeting and number tracking has me looking forward to making more fabric versions next.