The Christmas Donkey . . . and a new family member.

A Donkey,  a new baby, and Christmas, are three things which just ‘fit’ together, don’t they?  They make a perfect triangle,  all [sort of] ‘glued together’ with love.

Many years ago, daughter No.2 had a toy donkey called Donald. He was rather a handsome looking Donkey, beautifully made and very special indeed – and when you squeezed his sides, gently, he made the ‘eee-orre’ sound, just like a real donkey does.

Daughter No. 2 grew and grew (as they tend to do) and one day, after having a bit of a sort out of old toys, clothes, ornaments, and ‘flotsam and jetsam’,  and  I’d made three piles of ‘stuff’:  One pile to take to the Charity shop;  One pile of things to throw away;  and One pile of: ‘double check this’.  Everything in that pile was to be checked by everyone in the house that no one wanted it or had any use.  Donald the Donkey was added to that little selection of ‘double check this’ pile of things.

I asked No.2 if she still wanted to keep her donkey or could it be given to her sister for her baby to enjoy,  (No.2’s niece).  No.2 shrugged her shoulders and mumbled about not being bothered, so I took the donkey to Daughter No.1’s house when I next visited and offered Donald to her, and he was gratefully received.

A handful of months later, No.2 said that she wished I hadn’t given Donald away as she had wanted to keep him.

[BIG  S.I..G.H. “But you said you ….” … [small sigh]. I stopped talking,  realising that it was a useless effort to remind her of what she’d said and how she’d said it.  Donald had been gifted to her niece and I was weighted down with a painful guilt and heartfelt wish that I had been blessed, just for a moment, with fore-sight.

Daughter no.2 has never quite forgiven me for letting Donald go to her niece and I’ve felt the weight of motherly guilt about it ever since.

However … this Christmas, I thought of a way to try to fill the hole left by Donald – only this time in a slightly bigger, and more ‘grown up’ way. 

I made daughter No.2  a donkey. 

A ‘Faux Taxidermy’ Donkey.

Now don’t have heart palpitations this isn’t made, in any way, from a real Donkey.

This is made from:- 

  • A Paper Mache form
  • Fake Fur (of three different types/colours)
  • Strong Wire
  • Felt
  • Calico material
  • Hessian
  • Toy Eyes (like Teddy Bear eyes)
  • Eyelashes
  • Buttons
  • lashings of three types of glue
  • Sewing thread and needle
  • The use of my Dremel and a Pokey Tool
  • LOTS AND LOTS OF PATIENCE
  • and a  PLENTIFUL  amount of time.

I couldn’t wrap Donald the Donkey II up in gift paper as … well, it just felt so wrong to do so – he could suffocate!  So, at Christmas,  about an hour before D.no.2, Son-in-Law and Grandson arrived, I removed one of my framed pictures from the wall, and hung Donald II there instead.

She saw it the moment she walked into the living room, and loved it.  I was thrilled to bits, because I worried that perhaps it was too big; too over the top; too realistic looking (apart from the buttons for his nostrils); or just ‘too‘.  But no, she loved it.  She liked it so much that she thought I’d made it for myself and instantly asked me to make her one!  RESULT!  lol.  I got Mr.Cobs to take Donald off the wall and show D.No.2 the inscription on the back, which told that I’d made it for her for Christmas.  I thought she was going to cry for a moment, she looked so happy and thrilled.

The making of Donald was pretty much just common sense, and being methodical.  I’ll show you photo’s rather than explain ‘how to’,  as the photographs basically tell you anything you might need to know if you feel that a bit of Faux Taxidermy is something you’d like to have a go at too…

Donald the Donkey began life as a paper mache Unicorn, as seen in the photo above.
After removing his Unicorn Horn, he had to be patched up and turned into a horse….
His Donkey ears needed to be made, so I constructed them using strong Garden Wire which had been treated so as not to rust. I kept the wire in place using some hessian, which I fed the wire through, and then covered the whole thing in Calico Fabric, folding in order to follow the ‘ear shape’ as I went,  – and then held everything, including the wires, in place by hand stitching, where needed.

I covered both the ear armatures in fake fur and fixed it in place, then ‘tried them on for size’.

Once I was happy with the ears, I then went on to make a lower jaw for the Donkey.  Unfortunately I got so involved in the making I forgot to take photos of this, but it was basically made in the same way the ears were made, and then fixed into place.  You can see his lower jaw – which gives him the open mouth, and all round chunkier ‘Donkey look’,  in the two photos, below:

Eyes and eyelashes!
Donald the Donkey II

He’s come a long way from originally being a paper mache Unicorn, hasn’t he!  🙂

~~~  ❤  ~~~

OK, so we have the Donkey …  but what about the baby”, I hear you say.  (You did, I heard you say it!).

Those of you who read my last blog post will know that I lost my much-loved dog earlier in November.  I’ve had dogs all my life, but when Mabel passed, I said  “I’m not having another dog.  They don’t live long enough and I end up with a heart full of love and no dog to give it to.  I cannot bear the pain of losing a dog.  I’m not having another dog ever!” And I meant it with all my heart, as I sat there in the car, outside our vets, sobbing my heart out on the day I said goodnight to Mabel.

On the 14th of December I happened across an advert on a well known and reputable website, for breeders of puppies who were ready to find forever homes for their puppies.  I looked at the photographs of these lovely little things, admiring them but not wanting any of them, it was just like a child looking at a picture book.  I was happy to just enjoy other people’s dogs.

Then found an advert with photographs of puppy who I instantly felt as though I recognised.  Not recognised his face, – but my heart ‘recognised’ this little soul.  My heart KNEW him and it called out to him.  An instant longing, – painful even, right in the middle of my chest.

[G.A.S.P.] . . . OH.  MY.  GOODNESS!!! I called to Mr.Cobs….  “I’ve found our dog!  I’ve found the dog which I know is destined to be OUR dog.”

“But I thought you said we weren’t going to have another dog?” – he replied from the other room.

“You HAVE to come and see this photograph!  Seriously, it really is as if I already know him.  My heart recognises him!”

And this photograph of a little French Bulldog puppy  ….  was the photograph I showed Cobs Snr…

We talked about this little baby for a while.  Then we thought about it for a while, and then thought some more.  Then I found the advertisement again and we discussed it some more.  We eventually decided that I should phone the breeder and ask if the puppy was still available or if he’d already been reserved.  So I did.  And … he was still available to buy.

We made an appointment to go and see him on the following Tuesday, and . . .  well, as the saying goes:  ‘the rest is history’.  He became our new baby.  The new four-legged member of our family joined us exactly one week before Christmas Day, on the 18th of December.  We had a list of names which we’d made, but once we’d met him we knew that only one name would suit him, and that name was …  Hugo.

Now I won’t bore you all to tears about him here on this blog as I know that not everyone is a dog lover.  But … I’ve ‘built’ a WordPress Blog just for Hugo and which is Hugo’s own blog, so if you’d like to read posts written by Hugo, in his words, please do visit his blog:-  For the Love of Hugo <—click  (it will open in a new tab/window for you).  You’ll be able to see more photo’s of him and get to know little Hugo himself.  I think you might enjoy him.  He’s a funny little scrap of adorable, dipped in magic dust.

Oh, and please do ‘follow’ him and make the chap even happier than he is.  As a follower you’ll know when he’s posted something because you’ll get a message letting you know he’s written a blog post to you sharing his latest story or adventure(s),  It’s just like any other blog – only, ‘For the Love of Hugo‘ is written by Hugo himself.  🙂

Well,  all that’s left for me to say now is:  I hope that your Christmas was warm and happy and without incident, and I make a wish for you to have a peace filled, joyous, contented and promising New Year.  May there be something which makes you smile each day of this coming New Year, and may you remember to count your blessings regularly so that you know that you are indeed more blessed than you might initially imagine.

Very much love to you my lovely friend.

pink just me fairy cobwebs with fairies siggy 2

 

Oh! …  P.S.. ….  Some readers want to make comments after a post, but cannot find a place to do so. 

In order to make a comment on any post – you have to actually click into the post rather than simply read it on the home page.  Scroll up and click on the title of the post and then, when it’s loaded,  scroll down to the bottom and you’ll find the comment box!  It’s like a magic trick!  lol.  ~ C. xxx

 

A Weekus Horribilis, A Fabulous Blogging Friend .. and Beetroot Chutney!

The Queen once said that she’d had an ‘Annus Horribilis’ [Latin for A Horrible Year] and I agree that, at the time, she really had.

Now I can’t lay claim to having a horrible year, but  …  last week was absolutely a Weekus Horribilis (well, ten days to be precise).  One thing, then another, then another, then another – all seemed to either get the better of me, spoil things, upset me, or just made me bl**dy cross.

Individually,  they were just annoying or upsetting things which we all get – but we deal with them and move on.   However last week, they seemed to be coming at me like arrows from a battalion of Archers – all at once, – and I began to feel totally snowed under.

THEN, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse,  the cherry on the top of the cake was delivered . . .

I received a text message from the bank.  It said that they had declined a particular transaction for the amount of   £627  – which, they told me,  was an attempt to purchase some tickets for something or other.  The text message asked if it actually was Mr.Cobs or myself trying to make this purchase.

I called the Bank straight away in a right old panic and was put through to their Fraud department.

The lady on the Fraud section told me that someone was trying to use the details of our cards to obtain goods via our account.

Once I’d told her that it wasn’t us trying to buy anything for that amount,  our cards were frozenand she told us to cut them up, – then we had to wait for replacement cards to be sent to us, with different numbers and different security codes.  Happily no money was lost (thanks to the banks security systems which stopped and waved a flag when it saw this unusual (for us) transaction appeared) and we’ve double checked every single thing on our account.  But it scared me at how easily someone had tried to get money/purchase goods out of our account.

Something has to change regarding these types of bank/credit/debit cards.  If it’s THAT easy to do this type of thieving, then the financial organisations need to come up with something way better than we currently have.

So anyhoo . . .  last week had it’s ‘moments’ which would have tried the patience of an Angel with nothing on her mind.   BUT … one truly lovely,  incredibly kind,  beautiful hearted blogger changed all of that around.  She knew nothing of the pains/strains/ and Weekus Horribilis and yet … she turned my world around and made it better.

I follow the blog of Mrs.Craft of Craft and Other Crazy Plans and she’d written a post on her blog called:  Recipe Post – Beetroot Chutney  which I found totally enthralling.  I’ve never pickled or made Chutney or even made Jam before, but I’ve wanted to.  Everything I looked at seemed really quite complicated, so it put me off.  However this post of Mrs. Crafts was written for a numbskull like me.   After reading I was raring to go.  I wanted to go and buy the equipment there and then.

Mrs. Crafts Beetroot Chutney
photograph credit:  Mrs. Craft,  – borrow from her blog post to show you her mixing her chutney

I told Mrs. Craft, (in a comment) how amazing her Beetroot Chutney sounded and that I was going to go on-line to see if I could buy the things she’d mentioned in her post, and Mrs. Craft replied saying she’d found some of the things at Aldi in their weekly specials.   That was it!!!  I went straight to the Aldi site to see what they had left.   After all, Mrs.C had used them, so they must be ok!

What happened next was a magical happening which touched me so deeply that it made me cry.

Mrs.Craft emailed me and told me that she would like to send me a jar of her Chutney!  ME!!  A WHOLE JAR OF HER CHUTNEY!!!  Just for ME

Oh my goodness!  I wrote back to her saying I would love a jar, and that I would pay her for the jar, along with the postage costs,  maybe via PayPal, or even some money in an envelope – but she was having none of it.

I gave her my details and within a few short days a box wrapped up in brown paper arrived.  The scissors were summoned the paper was cut off, and the lid to the box was gently opened.  I was so scared that this jar of delight would have got broken in the post, but no.  There is was, nestled snug in its box bed.  I was over-come with thankfulness, both for the jar not being broken but more importantly to Mrs.Craft.

But it didn’t stop there …  also in the box was one of those special thermometers which you use when making jam, to ensure that you get the mixture to the right temperature!  I had this little gadget on my list to go and buy!

But then … another surprise in the box ….  a Handmade Card with a Unicorn on the front.  Of course, this wee Unicorn looks exactly like the Unicorn I keep in my back garden!  How did she know?  *GASP*

BEETROOT CHUTNEY made by Mrs.Craft b

Mr. Cobs laughed at me as I began to bubble.  Tears welled up in my eyes and tipped over the edge of them and I sat there sniffling and snuffling as he chuckled.

See … here’s the thing;  If someone is horrid to me I cry.  But if someone is nice – well then I cry too.  I blubber and bubble and get all sniffly.  People don’t even have to be nice to me.  Someone being nice to anyone will set me off.  Kindness’s which come from the heart are the things which can start me off and I become like a tap which won’t turn off.

tsk tsk…  like Cobs Snr says …  I’m a blubber baby.  But I don’t care.  I’d rather be one of those than one of the other things.

I have thanked Mrs.Craft, and I take this opportunity to publicly thank her for this incredible kindness which she’s shown me and which has totally blown me away.

Please do go and visit her blog.  I know you’ll love her just as much as I do.  She’s lots of fun, and if she can put up with me then she must be brilliant!  (There are links to her blog, and to the Beetroot Chutney post, above.  They’ll open in another page for you).

BEETROOT CHUTNEY made by Mrs.Craft A

I’ve found a place to buy one of those heavy bottomed saucepans and am planning a trip to buy one, hopefully this week.  So . . . If I don’t poison anyone, expect a blog post about the results.   [insert fearful face]  lol

I made Mrs.Craft a handmade card to say thank you … and I was going to share it with you in this post, but I’ve talked the hind leg off a donkey, so I’ll shut up and share the card with you in another post, another day.

Thank you so much for coming and sharing my Chutney with me.  Oh … nearly forgot to tell you….  I have no idea (yet) what the Beetroot Chutney tastes like because I’m saving it until Christmas, at which point I’ll have the Opening of the Jar Ceremony and all the family present will have a taste with some cheese and crackers.  (Can’t wait!  YUM).

May your Monday have been wonderful and may your tomorrow be truly blessed.

Sending great big squidges from my corner to yours.

sig-coffee-copy

 

 

The Enchanted Unicorn – a gem set focal pendant

 post 2 – in ‘Polymer Clay’

A few years ago I bought pair of vintage earrings from a car boot sale…. 

 

Vintage Unicorn Earrings which inspired the Enchanted Unicorn Focal Pendant.
Vintage Unicorn Earrings which inspired the Enchanted Unicorn Focal Pendant.

 

I can’t remember how much I paid for them but I have this feeling that it was something like £2.00 or £2.50.  I wasn’t buying them to wear,  I bought them because they’d charmed me and I’d fallen in love with them.  I ‘needed’ to own them so that I could look at them – and for a while they sat on my dressing table where I could see them,  and pick them up too,  because they’re so amazingly  tactile and they feel so lovely in the hand!

A few weeks after I’d bought them I looked at them and had an idea that maybe I could make something a little inspired by  them,  perhaps a pendant,  either on a beaded necklace or hung on a coloured rope type necklace.  So I took them to my work desk and, using them as inspiration,  I made a unicorn using polymer clay.

 

https://thecobweboriumemporium.wordpress.com/
The Enchanted Unicorn
– A Gem set Focal Pendant. (handmade by Cobwebs at The Cobweborium Emporium)

 

All made from white polymer clay.  The head, neck and ears were pretty easy to form, – a long(ish) sausage, thicker at one end and tapering off at the other–  but I decided to make the neck a lot shorter than the necks of the unicorn earrings, and also the face a little plumper.  I wanted to give my Unicorn a shorter nose too, as I wanted him/her to look a little more ‘comely’,  sort of a bit more friendly and maybe a tad more magical.

Once the head and neck were formed it was at this point that I had to decide where to put the ‘hole’ for the necklace part.  I knew I wanted a hidden hole, so had to work out where the hole would have to be in order for the pendant to hang properly and where I could hide the hole with ‘hair’.   I’ll admit at this point that pushing a knitting needle through the head of this incredible magical beast felt  SO  cruel.  Ugh,  … I felt like the RSPCA would be knocking on the door any minute and I’d be arrested for cruelty towards a *mythical* creature.

Hole made, …  Next came the Unicorn horn.  I chose a long, (rectangle shape)  freshwater Biwa pearl for this,  which I wrapped with a short wire twist, added a little liquid clay to it so it would anchor firmly and then slowly and carefully pushed the horn into the Unicorns head.

Next …  the eyes.

a part of a Unicorn,  handmade by Cobwebs at  The Cobweborium Emporium
a part of a Unicorn,
handmade by Cobwebs at
The Cobweborium Emporium

I know when you look at the bigger photograph of the Unicorn, the eye kind of looks like it could be complicated.  Don’t be fooled, it’s way easier than it looks.

The eye itself is a round, polished gemstone which is set into an eye socket  (a sort of ‘crater’)  which I made by pushing a sculptor’s ball tool into the clay to make that eye socket.  If your a crafter you might well have a ball tool which you use to press into the centre of a punched out flower in order to give it that realistic look.  Providing that you’ll never use that tool on any food item, then you can use the tool on polymer clay.  But if you’re possibly going to use any item for food making then you MUSN’T use it on polymer clay.

After the socket was formed,  I rolled a small, thin sausage of clay and wound it in a circle around the eye,  cutting it at just the right point (I find an angle cut works better than a straight cut & it’s easier to ‘hide’ the join or seam) and then closed the seam between the two ends by carefully blending the ends of the clay together.  I added a tiny bit of liquid clay into the socket and then took my bead and inserted a little ‘thread’ of wire through it, twisted it around the back and then gave it a little kink so that it would work as an anchor to hold the gem bead in the socket.  I then carefully pushed the bead gem into the socket, making sure that the wire went through that tiny bit of liquid clay, so that the liquid would wrap itself around the clay and ‘set’ when the clay went into the oven.

Now it was time to add the mane.

Unicorn mane

As I made the curls of hair, I applied each one very carefully so that they built up in layers, hiding the hole I’d cruelly made through his/her head for the necklace .  I also wanted to add a twist.  I wanted it to be more magical than just a mane, so added real gemstone beads, tucking and nestling them into the curls of hair, anchoring each one with a twist of wire threaded through the small holes drilled in the gemstones.

Once I’d built up the mane I gave him/her flared nostrils  and then finally I gave the face and neck some texture.  I thought about brushing ‘hair’ into the tiny sculpture but dismissed that idea straight away.  I knew that it wouldn’t look like the magical creature I saw in my minds eye, so instead I used one of my small ball tools and gently prodded little dips into his body which turned out to be the perfect texture and suited him/her down to the ground.  (or to the end of his/her neck at any rate!)

The final thing I did was to add a little Pearl-Ex powders, in various places and various colours, so that the P.Ex picked up on the colours of the gem stones and gave a little ‘glow’ around them and accentuated the deep blue of the eye.

He then went into the oven and,  a little while later,  a unicorn was born.

https://thecobweboriumemporium.wordpress.com/
The Enchanted Unicorn
– A Gem set Focal Pendant.
(handmade by Cobwebs at The Cobweborium Emporium)

An extra bit ….

If I were to make the unicorn again, I’d make the mane of thicker pieces of clay rather than those small curls.  Although I love the individual smaller curls, I worry about them catching on something and being broken.

—->  * mythical * creature <—–  ~ …  …  ‘mythical’?  – bah humbug!        From where I’m sat typing this I can clearly see my Unicorn in my garden.  He’s a fabulous chap and doesn’t mind me trimming his tail to make paint brushes. <innocent face>

Cobs siggy sml