It was a post from my first year of blogging, showing some things that had been made with the abundant supply of Stachys byzantina, lambs ear, that has been grown in all of our gardens. Such a sweet plant with those silvery velvet leaves, it really does lend itself to crafts. The original post can be seen by clicking here. It has been one of the most viewed posts I have ever written. I believe it is the little lamb made from the Stachys that is the cause for its popularity. The time has come for more detailed instructions to be offered to help out those who want to make these little lambs. I suggest you read through the entire post of instructions before you begin assembly.
You need a good supply of lamb’s ear, the Stachys byzantina that blooms, not the sterile type. When the flower stalks look like the above photo, it is time to cut and craft with it. It needs to be totally dry, not wet, even from dew. Watch out for the bees, they love the little lavender flowers. Harvest lots, you will need several types of pieces for the various body parts. Be sure and shake any insects off before bringing the stems inside.
Lay the stems out to dry and harden a bit. In the course of selecting and cutting the pieces you will need, it will become dry enough to work with. At the top of the image is one of the old lambs that was made at least fifteen years ago. I made them to give as Christmas gifts to friends and family and kept a few of the weirder ones for holiday decor. They are quite fragile. It is time for some fresh ones. Let us begin. Besides the Stachys, you will need a hot glue gun and glue sticks.
Choose four leg pieces that include the longest pieces of stem you can find attached to a roundish flowering bit that is below the top flower head down the stem length. Having plenty of length to work with will make it much easier to trim the legs on the finished lamb so it can stand up reasonable well. It is best to pull off the flowers now, too. Use your thumb and finger to gently grasp the flower and pull it straight out, it will come out easily. The part you want to remain is the calyx. Remove the leaves at this time, too, saving a couple of smaller ones for the ears.
Above are all of the body parts, some cleaned, some not yet ready to use. Removing the flowers will make the lambs more attractive as they age, without the brown bits. You will need to have a head, I use a tip that is fairly large but without all of the flowers opened yet to form a more pointy nose. Two smaller leaves for the ears, eyes are black peppercorns, like you use for a pepper grinder. A rounded bit, like that used for the legs with the stem cut short for the neck, the four leg pieces explained previously, three or four larger tips, depending on the size of them for the body, and a smaller tip for the tail.
Move to your hot glue gun work station. I like to sit at the bar in the kitchen because there is good overhead lighting and a plug nearby for the glue gun. I work on an old bread cutting board to protect the countertop. Begin by assembling the body. Squirt glue on one of the body pieces you have selected, being careful not to touch the hot glue, it can burn you badly.
Immediately press the two pieces together and hold for a couple of minutes until set. Use a liberal amount without making a mess, easier said than done, I know. I haven’t used a hot glue gun in many years and actually had to buy one for this project. I found that swirling the gun in a circular motion as you pull it away from what you are gluing left the fewest strings of glue. You can cut them off later.
Depending upon the size of the body pieces you have selected, use three or four. I used four when taking the pictures for this post, but thought the body was too bulky and square so made another one using only three with two on the bottom row and one on top in the middle for a more natural body shape. Both came out cute and can be seen in the first photo of this post. The one on the left was made using three pieces for the body.
Apply the legs to the messiest side of the body, since it won’t show. Apply glue to the leg piece, then place it on one corner of the upside down body, holding it in place until the glue has set well.
Add the rest of the legs, angling them outward slightly to help the lamb stand more steadily. Having more length than necessary will make it easier to trim them for better balance if you are like me and have to cut many times to get them right. Let the lamb set up well, take a break now, before turning the project over and proceeding.
Assemble the head to the neck, this is the angle you want. Apply glue to the neck piece with the shorter stem end. I like to turn the head sideways just a bit to add a little personality. Press the pieces together and hold until set. Cut it if need be before gluing to make a flush connection of head to neck.
Leave a stem piece of one quarter of an inch to attach to the body. Apply glue around the stem and press the head assembly firmly to the body. Hold in place until set. Apply glue to the tail piece and attach at the rear of the lamb with the wider end at the top of the body back in the center. Apply glue about half way down the tail piece, then press into place and hold until set. Allow everything to set up well, you are almost done!
The is the fun part, adding the ears and eyes. I use needlenose pliers to hold the black peppercorn and get a bit of glue from the tip of the glue gun on it, then press the peppercorn on the head, about one third of the way down from the top of the head. Use a toothpick or other pointy tool to help hold the eye in place while you release the pliers without moving the peppercorn from where you want it. Do the other eye, then attach the ears on either side of the head just above the eyes. Trim the legs if needed for better stability. You will immediately want to make another one, so don’t compost the leftover bits until you are completely done.
I hope you have fun with this, there is no right or wrong, each lamb will be different, just like people. The finished lamb is a whimsical creature, full of spunk and mischief. Kitty thinks they are quite cute. Enjoy!
For other posts written by Fairegarden, look for How To on the sidebar page listing or click here.