Today is our niece's 7th birthday! This past weekend, my husband and I visited our in-laws in Maine so we could celebrate. Our niece loves painting, drawing, playing with clay, so we always have a great time making things together. During our four-day vacation, I didn't make any real jewelry (I'll explain in a moment), but I did get to try some new crafts.
For the past few years, my niece has had her birthday party in a local art studio that caters to kids. The party guests get to complete several different projects throughout the afternoon and always have a lot of fun. My niece is an avid reader and is currently very interested in Botswana, so her party theme honored the country. The kids got to paint African masks and color cut-outs of animals and Botswana's flag.
All of the other adults sat around and took photos of the kids -- but I jumped right in and joined them, making a mask of my own! The chairs are designed for children so I was practically sitting on the floor, but I squeezed into one and had a blast painting.
Later, the kids enjoyed cupcakes as my niece opened her gifts. She received many artistic presents, including a sketch pad, pottery-making set, bracelet-making kit and a particularly interesting-looking kit called "Felted Friends."
Back home, she immediately checked out all of her presents. The bracelet kit came with four colorful wrist bands on which you place stickers, so she and I each designed two. I wore my "jewelry" to enameling class yesterday and everyone loved it!
However, making the "Felted Friends" turned out to be a much more complicated endeavor. I'd never done any felting; in fact, I didn't even know that felting is a thing, but apparently making items from felt is a very popular craft. Basically, you take a long felting needle and poke and mold the felt into shapes; if you want to add a section -- say, a leg to a felt doll -- you poke at the seam until the sections attach. When you poke at the felt, the fibers tangle, which allows the sections to connect and maintain their shapes.
Anyway, this gift is actually for ages 10 and up and there was no way I was going to let my niece use a sharp needle. Therefore, it was up to me to make a felt cat. My husband tried, but got bored after only a few minutes of felt poking. I was more patient and spent over an hour making this thing. I twice poked myself in the finger and my cat -- which I named "Lopsided" -- looks like a demented blob, but here it is:
No, it's not my finest work, but you know what? Felting is fun. I liked it more than I thought I would and am considering getting myself a grown-up felting kit. I think with some practice I can make something that doesn't look like a rag with ears.
By the way, the real cat in the photo is our kitty, Maya. My niece "gave" me the felt cat (apparently I have to work for my gifts) and wanted me to show it to Maya. I promised my niece I'd take a picture of the cats together. As you can see, Maya was very curious about her new felt friend...