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Projects between interruptions

Oliver Bunny investigating my workroom by Elizabeth RuffingIn between the interruptions from our household repairs, I’ve been working at getting my eyeball project resolved. I went down the rabbit hole on this one, and I finally sent my files off to the printer last night, after weeks of fussing and agonizing. Erin, who works at Fabric on Demand kindly answered my questions yesterday, until late last night.

I was watching a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” recently, where Sheldon has a meltdown while trying to decide between Playstation 4 and Xbox One. I have no interest in gaming systems, but his behavior is so like mine, I keep laughing over it. In spite of collecting every available piece of information to help make a decision, he still fell apart at the store. This is me, trying to buy something that is important to me. I had a dream once that Sheldon was my brother for a reason.

Hug Me Monsters stuffed toy plush by Elizabeth Ruffing, in progressThese are the first eyeball samples I got from Fabric on Demand, and they came out really nice. I, however, made the pupils a bit large, which was causing some of the black to get caught by my needle, while adding my embroidery stitching.

Hug Me Monster and Hug Me Slug stuffed toys in progress by Elizabeth RuffingI then made a gazillion versions on the computer, which I printed on paper, measured, cut out, and pinned onto toys. I made round pupils, then oval pupils, pupils off to the right, centered pupils, vertical pupils, horizontal pupils, small highlights, bigger highlights, highlights to the right, highlights to the left, solid-colored irises, and graded-colored iris.

I had debates over whether slugs would have oval or round pupils, since the “eyes” of real slugs are very hard to see. I looked up gastropods, and I still couldn’t tell for sure, oval or round. I looked up their mollusk relatives, cuttlefish and octopuses, and found they had oddly-shaped horizontal pupils. But what about bunnies? I found bunnies with horizontal oval and vertical oval and round pupils. I went on like this for weeks.

Hug Me Monster and Hug Me Slug stuffed toys in progress by Elizabeth RuffingAbove are the styles I chose. I hope they will be awesome. I have no doubt I will continue to think up changes.

I also sent samples for my lamb face, and emblems for my Super Slug a companion/co-hort Wonder Bunny. I got bogged down again over whether Wonder Bunny should have a “W” or a “B” for bunny on her chest. I asked friends on Facebook to help me solve this dilemma, and “B” won. I think that is best, since tags get separated from toys, and kids will probably make the association between “B” and bunny more easily.

Blog screenshot with Hug Me Bunny, Toad, Monster, Slug, Kitten by Elizabeth RuffingJust before I redesigned my eyes, I redesigned our blog headers, my Facebook page header, and my Etsy toy shop header. I guess if my eyeballs work out, I will have to update those later, along with my business cards.

Ruffing's Blog screenshot with Pixie Kitten fairy cat art dolls by Max Bailey and Elizabeth RuffingThis one is the Ruffing’s blog header, where we have our art dolls and prints.

Orange Fleece Hug Me Kitten stuffed toy by Elizabeth RuffingI also made one of my older-style fleece kittens who was needed as a baby gift. I have a few of these left. I wonder if they should get the new eyes or the old ones! ūüôā

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Pulling things apart, and putting them back together

Snowflakes coming down by Elizabeth RuffingWhat a past few weeks we’ve had, with rainy snowy icy weather, a leaking roof, water damage, a dead tree that had to come down, and people coming and going, sometimes announced, sometimes not. There have been lots of distractions.

We had water coming into our attic and dripping down, during a heavy amount of rain. We called a roofer who checked and told us we had hail damage from a storm that happened back in April last year! It got worse as water found its way into the small pits, which grew larger over the past months. I saw the giant hail, and even saw my neighbors needed their roof replaced, but I naively thought we got very lucky. The insulation got sopping wet and moldy. We haven’t gotten to that part yet.

Tree cutters, by Elizabeth Ruffing

First we had a dead tree down and the stump ground, so it wouldn’t hit the new roof.

Tree cutters, by Elizabeth RuffingWe were fortunate that they got to us when they did, because the roofers then came back out of the blue, in a hurry to get to us before the ice storm was expected. They were trying to get to everyone who had a leaky roof before the storm came. They showed up on a painfully cold day, and did the whole roof that day. We woke up to find tarps across our front steps and our back deck, and before we knew it, men were on the roof, tossing shingles over the edges.

Stump grinders, by Elizabeth RuffingThey did a nice job, but have to come back for the leaky gutters, which also got hit.

We made it just in time for the ice storm. Whew. I was so glad. We would have had a bigger mess if the roof had not been replaced, and that tree would have fallen on the house for sure.

Ice-covered tree branches, by Elizabeth RuffingThe ice was lovely, especially when the sun came out and was shining through it. It looked like it was glowing.

Ice-covered tree branches, by Elizabeth RuffingThe iced trees were making clicking and cracking noises, like giant insects,

Ice-covered tree branches, by Elizabeth Ruffingwhile the icicles were melting off the eaves.

Ice-covered tree branches, by Elizabeth RuffingA lot of people lost their electricity. We were so lucky ours stayed on, except for one brief time. We didn’t have a phone or Internet connection for days, but that is better than having no electricity. When the power went out and came back on, I felt so relieved and grateful for it.

Santana sitting on a storage box, by Elizabeth RuffingMr Santana, our visiting neighbor cat, came in during the worst of the weather. He spent one night in our crawlspace, but it became too difficult to get out to the door. Instead, he spent the afternoons in the living room and the nights in my bathroom.

Santana napping on a storage box, by Elizabeth RuffingHe was a surprisingly polite guest. I think he knew he had to behave himself. He doesn’t want to go to his house because he doesn’t get along with one cat there, and he doesn’t get along with my next door neighbor’s cats, but he wanted to come in our house, where there are a bunch of cats. It made sense to him.

Josephine staring at Santana, by Elizabeth RuffingJosephine was fascinated by him. She is very silly, and has been determined to pat him on his big fluffy butt. He didn’t know what to do about that. He is twice her size, and he ran away from her.

Santana and Dad sitting in front of the computer, by Elizabeth RuffingHe found some favorite spots. He helped me do my computer work and helped my dad play solitaire.

Santana and Dad sitting in front of the computer, by Elizabeth Ruffing

I think I will make a second post, with the projects I’ve been working on, between our interruptions, since this one is growing long!

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Breather day

Pink and green Hug Me Slugs stuffed animal art toys by Elizabeth RuffingFirst of all, thank you, everyone who has been adopting Hug Me Slugs. I have been receiving such nice feedback and emails and photos. It is all much appreciated. You guys make my day every time I hear from you.

Hug Me Slug thank you cards by Elizabeth RuffingI had to hurry to print up some extra thank you cards for my orders.

The Post Office recommended Monday as the last shipping day for Priority Mail to arrive by Christmas, within the US. If anyone wants to place an order over the weekend, I will be happy to send it out on Monday. I’m not 100% sure they will make their deadline, but they seem to be doing well.

Packages ready to be mailed out by Elizabeth RuffingI had some weird health issues the past couple of weeks, but I’ve been holding steady, getting all my packages out on time. I was already getting rundown. I thought I needed to catch up on some sleep and eat better. I tried that. Then I got a fever and my lymph nodes under my arms grew to the size of grapes. They hurt. The fever is gone now and my lymph nodes are down to the size of peas. I still think I need some rest. I’ll have to get myself into the doctor near the beginning of the new year.

We scrambled to arrange some health insurance for me, by the deadline on the 15th. It took some doing, but I think I can swing it for about $200 a month. That is still better than the $780 a month quote I found a few years back. I do wish they would just extend the graduated subsidy to everyone who needs it, and not make arbitrary cutoff points, to leave anything up to the individual states. It makes no sense for some taxpayers to pay more if they make less, or to suddenly get no discount at all, after paying all year for insurance they might not otherwise afford, if they fail to meet a certain income dollar amount at the year’s end.  That is hard on self-employed people whose income fluctuates. But I will try to make more, not less, once I recuperate.

Oliver Bunny watching me by Elizabeth RuffingOliver has been keeping a careful eye on me, demonstrating how to rest properly.

Oliver Bunny watching me by Elizabeth RuffingHe’s very good at it.

Oliver Bunny watching me by Elizabeth RuffingHe likes to camp out under my work table, when he is done running. I thought he needed more exercise and so I made him a quickie obstacle course, out of a box lid, some cardboard boxes with holes in either end, and a cardboard tube.

It quickly turned into a kitty and bunny obstacle course.

Oliver Bunny and kitties playing with my obstacle course by Elizabeth RuffingSome of the obstacles were harder to pass through than others.

Bertie inside the box by Elizabeth RuffingEveryone had fun for a while, and then they all went back to resting.

Birthday cherry cheesecakeI had my birthday this week. Mom made me a cherry cheesecake, which we are still eating. It is very good.

Wild flower Converse sneakersI received beautiful birthday sneakers. Now I can run through Cosmos flowers and walk in the clouds. When my mom asked me what I would like for my birthday, my first response was that I would like a new toilet. No one was able to do the lifting on that, but these are much prettier.

Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you J.B. too, for the birthday video. I will be sure to watch it once I am done running around. I haven’t started the running yet, but I am working on it.

Clouds Converse sneakersAs a special birthday treat, I got to go the the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my driver’s license. I meant to go in earlier, but wasn’t feeling well enough. I insisted on reading the whole driver’s handbook before we went, even though my mom told me I only needed to know the road signs and pass an eye test. Poor Mom. She endured much carrying on on my part. We were out a couple of hours, while she was a captive to my ranting. I had myself forgetting everything, having a surprise driving test, where I had to parallel park fifty-two times in a row, which would all somehow lead to my imminent death. In actuality, the last time I parallel parked, I did it perfectly. I don’t know why I get that way. It is my nature.

I was called up just before closing time, and rattled off the answers so quickly, I got ahead of my questioner. I realized at one point I was several answers ahead, and she had stopped asking me questions. So, I said the numbers and the answers. When I stepped away, my mom was laughing at me. I didn’t know anyone could hear me. She said the guy behind her said, “Wow.” I passed my eye test too.

Fabric on Demand eyeball test swatch by Elizabeth RuffingThere was a small holdup in getting my custom-printed eyeball fabric from Fabric on Demand, but guess what? The pupils are black! Hooray. These should work for me. I haven’t had a chance to test them out yet, but I will. I think I need to make the whites of the eyes bigger. This could lead to some custom-printed novelty toys, and should help me make more of my characters. I’ll see how it goes…when I’m done resting, which I am obviously not doing. I was up until 3:30am last night, which didn’t help. I was happy I had a “no-obligation Saturday” ahead, but I was still wound up.

Another kitty showed up here, a big tabby-and-white cat. I think he is abandoned. Santana’s mom made up a flyer but no one claimed him. She’s going to make an appointment to have him vetted. My kitty friends next door have been inside for the most part. Three of them came to visit once, for pets, and Scooter popped over a couple of extra times to say hi. Fish is missing though. I am worried about him and hope he is okay.

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My Halloween cat pumpkin and Spoonflower eyeball experiment

Halloween cat pumpkin by Elizabeth RuffingBoo! I don’t think I had carved a pumpkin for Halloween since high school, maybe college. Santana’s mom gave me one, and the day before Halloween, I decided to give it a go.

Halloween cat pumpkin by Elizabeth RuffingI sketched a quick template on paper, folded it in half, and cut it out, so I could trace the lines onto the pumpkin with a pencil. Then I used whatever I could find to carve it, a steak knife, an X-Acto knife, and a little stabby knife of undetermined categorization.

Halloween cat pumpkin by Elizabeth RuffingFirst, I “drew” the lines with the X-Acto knife. Then I chipped the surface away where I wanted yellow, with the X-Acto¬†knife. Then I used the steak knife and the stabby knife to cut all the way through where I wanted the holes. I cut the top and scooped out the inside when I was done cutting. I made a bit of a mess, but filled in the lines and pupils with some acrylic craft paint.

I set an emergency candle in a cat food can, first dripping a little wax into the can to get the candle to stand up. Santana kept the cat pumpkin, which was made in his honor, company while we had trick-or-treaters.

Santana the cat at the door for Halloween by Elizabeth RuffingWe had the best Halloween in years here, only about fifteen kids, which is more than usual, but they had great costumes. One family came with the mom and baby as astronauts, and the dad as the universe. He was all in black, with white lights across himself, so as he held the baby, the baby appeared to be floating through the sky.

One adorably baby lion tried to crawl up the steps. I met him halfway with the bowl of candy.

My favorite was a little superhero, maybe three years old. He had seen the Corgis at the previous stop, and wanted to know if we had any animals he could see. I told him I had a bunny rabbit. He looked incredulous, and said in a surprisingly low, gruff voice, “I wanna see the bunny rabbit.” I showed him Oliver, through the safety of the door, and they were both very curious about each other. The superhero made all kinds of grimaces. I’m not sure he believed Oliver was real, until Oliver reached out his head for a better look. That got a hilarious grimace and a big bizarre pirate laugh. I was still laughing the next day.

Piles of fleece all pre-washed and folded and by Elizabeth RuffingI took apart all those pajamas I got on clearance, and fleece throws this week. They are now pre-washed and folded, waiting for me with about a gazillion other lengths of fleece. I was going to try creating a design and ordering some Spoonflower fabric for toys, but thought, since I have so much fleece, I would try having them print eyeballs instead. I made up a repeat pattern in Photoshop Elements, and uploaded it to their site. It was straightforward, once I got the dpi of my image to 150 at the size I wanted.

Spoonflower eyeballs by Elizabeth Ruffing printed on Minky, fat quarterI got my fat quarter in the mail this morning, printed on their Minky fabric. It looks pretty good. There is a small amount of stretching of my circles, near the edge. I don’t know if the black is as black as I might like, but the dye seems to have saturated the surface pretty well. That was my biggest concern, that white would show through the black. I am pre-washing the fat quarter right now, putting it through my usual steps. I will see how it comes out, once sewn on some slugs.

I think the¬†printed eyeballs¬†may be more consistent in shape and pupil placement than the ones I make by sewing the black onto the white. I don’t want them to lose their charm, but they will probably continue to be wonky enough for my satisfaction. ūüôā I may need to interface the backs so they don’t wiggle too much as I sew them on by hand.

Hug Me Slugs fleece plush animal stuffed toys in progress by Elizabeth RuffingThis is the current group of Hug Me Slugs I am working on. Thank you all for continuing to leave me such nice reviews. Aside from helping me out, those cheer me up. Getting appreciation back is great and helps me keep going, making things. It can be hard, working in a bubble of sorts, from home, so those mean a lot to me. I have been feeling better than I have in a while. Got to go get back to my sewing!