Dog lovers at all skill levels can call upon their creativity to make useful, one-of-a-kind dog accessories. Dog crafts make thoughtful and inexpensive gifts and can be undertaken by children and adults. Every dog is a gracious recipient of handmade items and will be happy to parade in a custom sweater or play a game of tug with a rope toy personalized in your favorite colors.
Polymer clay, available commercially as Sculpey, is an easy-to-mold product that comes in a wide array of colors and bakes in a household oven. Clay can be transformed into dog tags, leash hook plaques, picture frames and collar ornaments. Tags can also be threaded onto a leash. Purchase clay in the colors that appeal to you. The first step is to read the manufacturer's directions for molding and baking, and preheat your oven as instructed. Roll a quarter-sized piece of clay as thinly as possible. Using a very small cookie cutter, from 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide, cut the rolled clay. Your dog's name can be lightly stamped into the cut clay using alphabet stamps or etched with a toothpick. Jewelers' stamps work well. Cut a hole near one edge with a small hollow round, such as a pen top. This is for the jump ring that will attach your clay tag to a collar. Turn the tag over, and lightly etch a phone number or other information. Repeat to make additional tags. Bake the tags on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. When the tag is cooled, paint with a thin wash of paint in a contrasting color to accent the design and lettering. Polymer clay should not be consumed by a dog, so do not use it for dog toys. Potter's clay can be transformed into water and food bowls or treat jars. If you have access to a kiln and ceramic glazes, your project will have a professional result. "Paint a pot" stores often feature pet-friendly items. At these stores, customers select premade unglazed ceramic pieces, paint them with glaze, and then pick the finished product up at the store after it is fired.
You can find many knitting and crochet patterns for dog sweaters, booties, leg warmers and collars. Patterns are intended for a variety of skill levels, from novice to advanced, from very basic everyday sweaters to multicolored argyle and cable creations. Patterns include basic size charts and estimate of yarn skeins needed. Knitting or crocheting for your dog is a perfect undertaking for a long weekend or for a takealong project. Dog clothes are generally small and need less yarn and less time than larger projects. A handy crafter can also transform textiles into homemade dog toys. Patterns are available for quilted tops for dog cushions, beds and carrying cases. Felters will find instructions for crafts from waterproof dog coats to toys for small pups. Rope, accessorized with balls and sturdy plastic chew toys, is an instant dog favorite. To make a rope tug toy, cut three pieces of thick rope into 18-inch long sections. You can purchase rope at a marine or hardware store in a number of colors. Hold the three pieces of rope and tie a knot to secure them at one end. Braid the three pieces together, finishing with another knot at the bottom. A large, dog-proof plastic disk or chew toy with a hole in it can be threaded into the braid at either end, or use two, one for each end.
Nontoxic acrylic paint personalizes dog accessories. Buy waterproof acrylic craft paint at an art supply store. Plain dog collars can be stenciled with icons such as bones or paw prints or emblazoned with a dog's name. Leashes can also be personalized with paint. To make a best friend place mat, purchase a solid color linen or cotton place mat. Using fabric paint and stencils, decorate both sides and the top. Or you can paint freehand. Centered along the bottom edge, paint the dog's name in script, or use alphabet stencils. Don't worry about the middle of the place mat; that is where the dog bowls will sit. Let the paint dry completely before using at mealtime.