Meet Chia the Yi qi

Finally! After Weeks of anticipation, I can introduce you to…

Mariel and Peter join us for today’s chat about our newest shop member and all the many crafty adventures we’ve been up to this month. πŸ™‚

Chia is a cautious little dinosaur, but also very curious, and she is often quick to warm up to anyone who is friendly (especially if you have a treat). Her favorite sweet treat is maple syrup. Don’t give her honey, because bees won’t be around for millions of years yet and it might make her sick. Technically maple trees aren’t around either, but Pete tested both the raw sap and the maple syrup made from it and they are safe for Chia. She’ll also leap your way for a wriggly mealworm or cricket.

She uses her sharp claws to climb trees, pant legs, cabinets…anything to get higher. Once she has a nice perch, then she wil look around to see if she can find a better one, like your shoulder or head. A mobile perch is even better than one that stands still, because she can see more things that way.

Just before leaping to a new perch, she will bob from side to side and up and down, like a squirrel does before it jumps to a new branch. Don’t worry if she jumps your way! Her claws are only a little scratchy.

Now that Chia is content with a bug treat for the moment, I can share a few other adventures from last month. If you want to hear more about Yi Qi, I highly recommend the Terrible Lizards podcast featuring this little critter. (Click here for a direct link to the episode) Paleontologist Dr. David Hone is a cohost with Iszi Lawrence, and this podcast was very helpful in the making of little Chia. Plus they’re a lot of fun!

Mariel had her 8th birthday two weeks ago, and we had a magical mermaid party for her. Of course you’re here for the dinosaurs, not mermaids, so what does this have to do with dinosaurs? The dinosaur comes in with the presents.

It’s probably no secret that Skittles the Scutellosaurus is my favorite dinosaur at the shop, and for a long time I’ve been talking about making a life-size Skittles. Partly just because I want my own pet dinosaur “for real”, and partly because Skittles is a good size and makes a great mascot. πŸ˜€ My kids have greatly encouraged this idea of course (especially the potential to make a life-size puppet), so when I started drawing some plans, they were super excited.

I used Scott Hartman’s skeletal of Scutellosaurus as the outline for my first design, and simplified it as I went to be more friendly for sewing. Then I studied several of my kid’s stuffed animals to understand how the pieces would fit. Older Beanie babies have a nice, simple design, so as a beginner I found a Beanie kangaroo particularly helpful. πŸ™‚

Simplified tracing of the skeletal.
Rough pieces for the first test. This is not the final pattern!

Next it was time to test out my pattern. I used some felt I had on hand, and kept it small. All I wanted to know was if the pieces I made would fit together and actually turn out to eb the shape I wanted them to be. I kinda wondered if it would turn out to look like some sort of chimera once I’d sewn the pieces together. πŸ˜€ Anyone who actually knows something about sewing stuffed animals can see the problems with my first pattern right away! I was about to find out the hard way.

Yep, it looks more like a lizard than a dinosaur with those spread-eagle legs. So I took another look at the stuffed animals and realized what I did wrong. The the wider the belly piece, the more widespread the legs would be. The combination of wide top and bottom pieces for the head made it very round, so those needed to thin out too. With those small tweaks made to the pattern, it’s time for test two!

I decided to make this one actual size, that way I could use the sewing machine. I wasn’t 100% sure if the problem with the legs was only because of the belly, or because felt is stiffer than the material I was planning on using. I was hoping for something soft and snuggly, because even though the kids thought I was making this dino for myself, I was really making it for Mariel’s Bday so she had a special friend to sleep with. Extra bonus that it was also practice for my own future Skittles. πŸ˜€

It was good to pratice working with the slippery fabric. It was much easier to sew certain areas because of the larger size, and I was really happy with how much better the belly and head turned out. There are still a few little problems with the legs, and I think a few more tweaks are needed, but it’s definitely starting to look how I want. I love the black eyes, and it was simple to super glue the pom-poms on for the scutes. I’ll need to experiment with fabrics for the next one, depending if I want something cute or more realistic.

Oh yes, and it needs to be bigger to actually be life-size. This one is only half as long as it should be, and so I can say it’s a young Scutellosaurus. πŸ™‚

One last thing exciting thing that happened this month, was that I set up my email for the shop! You can get to it by clicking the picture below, where you can get a free PDF of Twig and Tango’s story, and you’ll get emails for new posts. πŸ™‚ I think I’ll call them postcards from the shop. πŸ˜€

See you May 1st for the next Critter of the Month!

This next critter is near and dear to my heart.

Share your guess in the comments! She’ll be one of the critters over on the critter page. πŸ™‚

9 thoughts on “Meet Chia the Yi qi

  1. Nice job on the dinosaur “stuffies”. I like them. Small dinosaurs probably had some very creative techniques for camouflage, i.e. looking like leaves or branches, showing spines or claws to appear different, color changes, blending in with the environment so well that they appear almost transparent, or just looking fake. Nice guest speakers!

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    1. Thank you! they were a lot of fun to make. πŸ™‚

      It’s definitely possible that some smaller dinosaurs had creative strategies to avoid being eaten. We can take a look at modern birds and reptiles for a few ideas. Some are amazing at camouflage (i.e. potoo bird), others use colors and wings/arms/tails to appear bigger and not a good target (or a better target than precious eggs), while others take a more offensive approach (pelican chicks will vomit on potential predators lol. They’re amazingly accurate!). It’s amazing how many different strategies animals can have, even just with camouflage, and it’s a lot of fun to experiment with colors and possible soft tissure for dinosaurs. πŸ™‚

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  2. Greetings! Great job on the two Skittles stuffed toys. I can’t sew to save my life. If you’re interested in getting a life-sized ultra-realistic stuffed toy version of Scutellosaurus, maybe you can contact “Hikigane Creatures” on Instagram. Her articulated poseable stuffed toys are amazing. Right now, she’s not taking any art commissions, but you could at least drop her a line and let her know what you have in mind. https://www.instagram.com/hikigane.creatures/?hl=en.

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    1. Thank you very much! They were a lot of fun to make. πŸ˜€ Thank you so much for sharing the link! Her work is absolutely amazing, and I’ll definitely need to look deeper into getting in line for a commission. As much fun as I have dabbling in different art forms, I may very well commission a life size Skittles instead once I’ve gathered the funds for it. πŸ™‚

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