Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bees in our Backyard: Part II / Bienen in unserem Garten: Teil 2

Thanks to Lucky Pebble, I just remembered that I never told you what became of our bee project. Remeber the bees, my husband and I received as a birthday gift in April? Well, I am proud to say that they did not abandon the hive! They decided they liked it here and worked as hard as only bees can work. Sometimes I wonder if humans could solve the global warming problem if people worked on this project as hard as bees work on their projects...

We think the bee population in our top bar hive grew from around 10,000 bees to over 50,000.

Pretty cool , eh?

Along the way we did encounter some problems. For some reason the bees did not build their combs straight down from the top bars. On some bars they built multiple "sheets" of comb at a slanted angle. You can see that in the closeup picture below. There really should just be one comb per bar. This sort of messed things up because we were not able pull the bars straight up and out. The crooked "sheets" of comb needed to be cut because they were stuck together in places. In the process we had some loss of life and honey. Very frustrating.

Why are the bees building crooked comb? Any beekeepers out there? Could it be because the hive itself is not sitting straight on the ground - but slightly angled? My husband rested the hive on a couple of benches from an old picknick table.

In the other closeup you can see some unfinished honeycomb. The cells are not closed or capped off. Apparently the bees decide when the honey is at it's best and put a lid on. We opened the hive twice over the last five months. I only have pictures from the first event.

The uncapped honey was not very sweet and as tasty as the final product. The last time we opened the hive we got a few beautiful chunks of the most delicious honey comb. We did not take a lot. We want our pets to be able to survive the winter and continue their happy life in our backyard. We got ONE precious jar we will savor down to the last drop over the next few weeks.

Plus, I got some wonderful beeswas to seal the wood buttons for my doll clothes. I love our new pets. They stung only twice. Luckily the kids and I got off scott free...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Doll Dress Design / Neues Design fuer Puppenkleid

The childhood memories of a dear customer (remembering Holly Hobbie Dolls) inspired me to make a new dress and change up my dress design a bit. I made the sleeves and pocket of the dress of a solid matching fabric. Thanks to my secret fabric fairie -I was able to create this dress from an absolutely adorable Japanese quilt fabric. It is a cheater quilt fabric in beautiful shades of purple, pink, and green.

Die Kindheitserinnerungen (die Erinnerung an Holly Hobbie Puppen) einer lieben Kundin inspirierten mich zu kleinen Veraenderungen bei meinem Puppenkleid Design. Die Aermel und Tasche fuer das Pueppkleid sind aus einem einfarbigen Material, passend zum Stoff, genaeht. Dank meiner geheimen Stoff-fee - konnte ich dieses huebsche Kleid aus einem total suessen Japanischem Stoff kreieren. Der gefaelschte Patchworkstoff ist in den Farben lila, rosa, und gruen gehalten.

And check out the cute little boots I made to match this dress! They have a darling butterfly design needlefelted to match one of patterns from the dress. For an even more realistic look the butterfly's feeler are sticking out from the dress.

Und schau mal an welch suesse kleine Stiefel - von mir passend zum Kleid gefertigt! Sie haben ein Schmetterlingsdesign, welches durch nadelfilzen entstanden ist. Die Fuehler der Schmetterling sind aufgestickt und wirken sehr realistisch.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wood Buttons / Holzknoepfe

One would think that adding a closure to a doll dress was a snap. Well it used to be. Then along came the CPSIA laws. New consumer protections laws mandate that all children's items containing small metal parts will have to be tested for lead come February 2010. As a small business owner I cannot afford to have expensive tests done and my items destroyed in the process. So I decided to change my product.
When I make a doll dress my customers have two options to choose from: velcro or a wood button type closure. I recommend velcro for young children who still need to work on their eye-hand coordination. Also, if kids still chew on their toys, a 1/2 inch wood button might not be the right idea for them.

If you are not a great fan of velcro, like myself, you may prefer the wood buttons. I found some really attractive wood buttons on etsy. One kind of button I discovered are called tree branch buttons. They are more rustic looking. They come with a rougher outer rim of real wood bark or smooth . Tree branch buttons are thicker than your regular sort of button. They are available at the

Of course, if your are the crafty type, you can attempt to make buttons yourself. I drove my husband sheer crazy when I asked him to drill holes in some tiny dried up branches I collected from the oak trees in front of our house. Can you please slice and dice them up for me? What? But the patient crafter will eventually persist. After hours of hard labor I had a handfull of sweet buttons. Now that explains hight price for such things...Sigh.

It was much easier to buy another set of pretty buttons from

They are not as cool as the tree branch kind, but almost as handsome. After I added a natural finish to them I was really pleased with myself. It was fun to add a coat of mineral oil and a layer of all natural bees wax made by our pet bees.
You can find instructions for natural wood finishes on this cool site:

Now what kind do you prefer?
I am kind of tired. Maybe the translation of this post will follow tomorrow...
Ich bin muede. Vielleicht kommt die Uebersetzung dieses Eintrags morgen noch...