favourite things friday

 

Fireflies are such summertime treats (for the eyes. Don’t worry, I don’t eat them), but I haven’t seen too many around in the city. These firefly jars aren’t as amazing as the real thing but they’re pretty cool to look at! There isn’t really a how‐to for them, but Curbly, where I spotted them, suggests flicking glow in the dark paint into mason jars. Or, one could try these from Frugal Family Fun, involving battery‐powered LED lights.  

 

I’ve told you that I love headbands. Haven’t made too many of them though. But this one I will likely make soon! Knotted headband tutorial from You Seriously Made That. Might also make a cool belt! Hmm.

 

I like jewelry made of old cutlery and I’ve always wanted to buy them when I see them in the shops (but I could never afford them :S). I would buy them because I thought it involves heavy machinery to bend/shape/form metal cutlery, something that I can’t make at home. But apparently there is a way to make them with just a good ol’ hammer and pliers, like in this tutorial of a spoon pendent by Busily Spinning Momma

 

This is so simple, but it made me laugh! A pocket‐size puppet for those long bus rides or doctor’s waiting room, perhaps? Googly eye hand puppet from Make and Takes.

 

This, my friends, is a way to screen print without a screen! Brilliant! Just an embroidery hoop, some mesh/sheer material, and Mod Podge! How‐to on Craftgrrl (via 52 Crafts in 52 Weeks).

 

I’ve never made soap but always been intrigued by the process. I like the ones that come embedded with a rubber ducky or other small toys. But a sheet of printed transparency would also make a sophisticated and stylish embedding option — makes a lovely wedding favour or Christmas gift! How‐to on Ruffled.

 

A very sculptural pendent made completely with candy wrappers. I love recycled crafts :D From Michele Made Me.

 

Always wondered how this gradient is achieved — now an easy‐to‐understand tutorial! (I think the stripes on the shirt helps a lot) From Cotton & Curls.

 

In our small apartment, a tabletop ironing board would be handy, so whenever I’m working on a sewing project I don’t have to haul out the ironing board that takes up half the living room (OK, I’m exaggerating a bit…). Last time we went to Ikea I was looking at the loose shelf boards in the as‐is section and I wondered if I could make an ironing board with a towel wrapped around the board or something… and then a couple of days later I came across this tutorial :D From Lil Blue Boo.

 

These ice cream cone charms look so much fun to make, with sharpened wooden dowels and caulking! Not to mention that they’re so very cute. From Paper Plate and Plane.

 

I’ve made felted mushrooms for my terrariums before (my first posts of this blog, actually! :D), but I just kind of free‐formed them. But here’s a detailed tutorial! From The Magic Onion.

 

Handmade polymer clay that dries very hard without baking, involving white glue, cornstarch, lemon juice and other household materials! Sounds amazing, because those Fimo clay is expensive! Must try this sometimes. Recipe on The NewNew Blog

 

Also from The NewNew Blog, reversible fabric scrap pendents! Very quaint. 

 

These were made from popsicle sticks! When I think of bending a popsicle stick I can only picture it snapping. Head over to Suzy’s Artsy Craftsy Sitcom to see how they’re formed to fit the wrist :D

 

When my watch strap was falling apart last year I thought about crocheting a replacement, but then we went to Hong Kong and I had it replaced in a little booth on the street. This would be great inspiration for crocheting my next watch strap! From Kootoyoo.

 

I’d love, love, love to have this succulent coffee table in my home one day (made from shipping crates!). Not something I can make because I’m not handy like that, so I guess I can only dream… or perhaps make up other ways to make it :D Definitely great inspiration, from Far Out Flora. (Also check out this even bigger project, the succulent dining table, made from shipping pallets!)

 

More junk into treasure — this is just mesmerizing. Made with fusing plastic bags together. More photos on Curbly.

 

Finally, a great list from Real Simple (one of my favourite magazines :D) of summertime new uses for old things. My favourite is the colander ice bucket and old shower curtain as picnic blanket liner (I’d probably ditch the blanket and just sit on the shower curtain though). And I didn’t know that tea bag is a bug bite soother! 

Hope you’re enjoying the sunshine and super warm weather of summer! Happy weekend! :D

 

chasing after the sunny spot

Now I know how cats feel.

Ever since I saw this fabric sun print idea I’ve always wanted to try it. I have no idea why or how it works without light sensitive paper (just fabric and fabric paint!), it all seems really magical to me, so I really want to see if it really works!

Finally a really sunny day came upon us and I grasp the opportunity :D We have a west‐facing balcony and only get direct sunlight on it in the late afternoon. And it’s only a strip of sunlight because of the balcony railing. I used canvas and some watered down screen printing ink for fabric, because that’s what I have.

It was also really windy, so I placed stones on the leaves to keep them from being blown away. Then I thought maybe stones will make good patterns too, so I laid them on the wet canvas as well.

It’s like paintings that make themselves! I only had to wait two hours for them to sit in the sun. And go out 4–5 times to move the cardboard with all the canvases on it because the strip of sunlight was shifting (more quickly than I thought!).

And finally, here are the results! :D These are the two that came out a bit more clear. The edges of the leaves kept flapping about because it was so windy (and it’s always windy up where we are) and so it didn’t make a good solid imprint. And because I used dried, pressed leaves, which didn’t stick to the wet canvas. I think next time I’ll try to find fresh leaves for this.

 

These two turned out less clear so I later painted something on top of it. But here they are :D

 

After those prints were done the sunlight was coming into the apartment with the balcony door open, so I tried to do another print with a thinner kind of leaf. They stuck to the wet paint and lied perfectly flat on the canvas so I was expecting really good prints…

 

But the sun was only there for an hour and a half, before the print was done. But the silhouettes of the leaves are still faintly visible. Kind of ghostly. There’s something I really like about that, enough to make me save the image and not recycle the canvas.

 

The two red/orange ones that didn’t come out clearly I did recycle. They turned into these…

 

 

I was trying to see if masking fluid would work on raw canvas. I’ve only ever used it on paper, which is what it’s meant for. So! The verdict? It’s a no. Masking fluid does NOT come off of raw canvas. It came off of these paintings because they had a thin coat of screen printing ink on them to start with, but still, it took me a long time to rub (and sometimes scrape) off the dried masking fluid, which left my index fingertip raw and dyed blue and its nail broken. But it’s worth the effort, I think! Because the colours turned out great :D (and broken nail grows out in a few short days)

Masking fluid, however, works like a dream on primed canvas. More on that later! :D

Happy Thursday! 

self, with red

 

 

One day I woke up with this idea for a self‐portrait, on raw canvas, with pencil, and a solid red background. It was so clear in my head. And I just sat down and did it.

Why red? I have no idea. Like I said, it was just this idea that suddenly came into my head. Perhaps I had a dream the night before involving the colour red, but I don’t remember.

I think I look kind of afraid or concerned in the picture, which, apparently, is often how I look to other people. People would come up to me and say:

you look really concerned — don’t worry!”

Are you nervous? You look really nervous.”

Are you OK? You look worried.”

Then I would think to myself, am I worried? I don’t feel worried. Should I be worried?

Anyway.

Before this, making art feels somewhat like an obligation. I should make more art, since I graduated from art school and all. And I do enjoy the process once I get started. But then art school was what gave me the idea that what I make will never be considered art.

To my carefully soldered then painted glass pieces from broken bottles, my teacher said, “that’s really meditative and all, but I’m looking for more ideas, and I’m disappointed.”

So I tested out more ideas. I couldn’t find more glass to break at the moment, so I sketched on acetate. To that, a fellow classmate said during a critique, “I don’t care for these straight‐out‐of‐the‐tube colours and stuff.” 

And my teacher’s reasons for deducting marks on my final artist statement/thesis, “it’s well‐written, but you should have referenced more artists who’ve done similar things as you, like so‐and‐so, or so‐and‐so.”

Yes, I need accomplished artists to validate what I make, because just on their own my art and my stories behind them aren’t good enough. I need to name‐drop, that’s what it is.

Well, I don’t know how to name‐drop. I only know what I like. I like to make things, but if that’s what the “art world” is like then I don’t like it and I don’t want to be part of it. So I still paint, less often than I’d like, because it remains a struggle, with the above comments plus many more coming back to me with every line and every brushstroke I make.

Maybe it’s true. I’m just not good enough to be an artist. And I don’t handle criticism very well. I know that about myself. I’m working on that.

(Now, that is not to say that I don’t enjoy any of the art school experience. There’re still lots of good memories and many valuable lessons learned. I met many good friends with whom I’m still in contact. And I met Mike. So I will always be thankful for those years.)

Then recently, through one of the blogs I read I came across the work of Barbara Cole, a Toronto‐based, self‐taught photographer. I was immediately drawn to the watery, painterly quality of her photographs. Then I looked through her Toronto Series and read the artist’s statement. And I cried. I was so moved. It was so honestly written. So plain, so unpretentious, and so beautiful. 

Somehow, reading that, made it OK to paint again. It was strange. But it was after reading that one statement that I painted the self‐portrait. I mean, I didn’t make up excuses or find other things to do or put it off, I just went and painted it. 

Ideally, I would like it to be hung a bit away from the wall, so the fringed edges of the canvas cast a fringed shadow.

 

I stuck it on the thermostat to take the photo but I can’t leave it there permanently so the painting is stored between books on the bookshelf now. But I had some fun with it before putting it away :D

Should’ve stuck my hand out to take the picture… oh well.

So, is it art? Absolutely. But only recently have I come to that conclusion. I run art groups sometimes, and I always tell the participants that anyone can make art and everyone is creative in their own ways. So why can’t I believe that about myself? 

I realize that this post is less than cheerful, which is unusual, so thank you for bearing with me! It’s just one of those days. But at the end of the day I’m happy about what I made and I will find ways to do better.

 

 

 

 

weekend wonders

The past two weekends have been quite wonderful. I didn’t have a chance to post those weekend pictures here last week, so here they all are! :D

Last weekend we took a long overdue trip to Ikea, had their fabulous meatball combo and Swedish dessert sampler and of course lingonberry juice :D

 

And at Ikea I got a large jar of Perler beads! I thought my heart was going to burst when I opened it and saw all the colours spilling out. Must be a million of them in there — filled to the brim with happiness :D

 

My first project was a Nyan Cat. I realized that if I copied the pixels exactly it would turn out huge (5.5″ across, apparently, like this awesome rendition). I didn’t even have a large enough board to make the full‐size Nyan Cat, so I simplified it a bit. And the jar of beads also didn’t have grey (for the cat) or tan (for the Poptart). But that’s OK. My Nyan Cat would be lilac‐coloured and the Poptart pastry would have to be yellow. And here it is flying across the screen with the rainbow trail…

 

Figured out another way to wear my crochet tea rose — on a belt! My belt had a metal buckle and the flower had a safety pin on the back, so the flower was held to the belt buckle with a couple of magnets in between. I think it looked alright. 

 

Over the past week I’ve been experimenting with dressmaking (I’m hoping to replace old ratty t‐shirts with clothes I make). So far I’ve made myself this blouse with some fabric I found in my mom’s fabric bin. It must be from Hong Kong. It’s not exactly polka dots, because the white dots are kind of ovals. Mike and I both think that they look like grains of rice. (More on the making of this top later!) I wore this flower pin on my belt with it. I asked Mike to take a photo while we were watching the sunset on the deck at top of our building :D

 

And I save the best for last — my new niece was born on Wednesday! Her name is Lucy :D We saw her for the first time this past weekend. She’s so precious…

Wishing you a week full of wonders! :D

sunday video — angry birds live!

 

Mike downloaded Angry Birds on his phone and I’ve been playing it a lot this weekend. My first time playing the game was at the doctor’s office; it was going to be a long wait and I forgot my book. Then I was hooked — absolutely hooked and totally understand why everyone’s making angry bird plush and (playable!) angry bird cake and angry bird crochet patterns! And here’s an awesome video of angry birds LIVE! XD

 

 

It’s not just for the iphones — it’s a free Chrome app too, so I can play it on my computer when Mike’s out with his phone. Yikes. I’m going to get a lot done these days… now if you would excuse me, I’m going back to figure out how to beat this new level!

Have a great Sunday, everyone! :D 

 

favourite things friday

 

I quite like this idea, maybe for putting together a series of small prints, or a book in a box. From Martha Stewart Living.

 

 This reminds me of those fun magnetic fridge poetry sets, except more poetic, with the imagery of a river. From Made by Joel.

 

Any idea? You, too, can easily make a maze rug! Check out this post on Curbly!

 

Double‐sided fabric headband! That’s like, two headbands in one to match different outfits! Fabulous :D How‐to on Happy Together.

 

I love the look of this headband too, like a crown of laurels. Knitting pattern from the awesome Sweatshop of Love.

 

More headbands! I do like headbands, they go well with my bangs. And I’m seriously considering making one of these. Now I just have to find myself a nice colour t‐shirt. Very detailed instructions on Make It and Love It.

 

I’ve seen plenty of pillowcase skirts and tops, but never seen a full‐length dress made of a bed sheet! The key, of course, is to make it so that it doesn’t look like one is walking around draped in a bed sheet. I’ve often contemplated making a pillowcase top but worry that everyone would be able to tell right away that I’m wearing a pillowcase… anyway, I digress. But this dress is AMAZING! The pattern on the vintage sheet is gorgeous. Read more on the making of the dress on Running with Scissors.

 

More foam tray printing goodness. I’ve attempted this method before, it’s so much fun I should do more of this. Styrofoam tray stationary tutorial from Smoothpebble.

 

I’ve attempted these before too! For a project in printmaking class. I drew the design on transparencies with a hot glue gun :D was fun but the “stamps” were wonky and a bit annoying to handle. These stamps from the tutorial on Craft are made with clear silicon caulking on Plexiglass — I’m sure it’s much sturdier and easier to use!

 

Very stylish bath mat! I love the simple knit cable design. Tutorial from A Common Thread.

 

Lovely fabric lanterns, molded on balloons and jar lids and stiffened with white glue. Brilliant idea. From Make Grow Gather.

 

Can’t believe how easy it is to make scratch‐off paint! Just metallic acrylic paint mixed with dish soap! Martha’s tutorial is for a wedding save‐the‐date card, but this could totally be a fun party game or something. Or greeting cards. Or just make scratch‐off cards for fun!

 

Also brilliant are these mason jar sippy cups — so much more stylish than the plastic ones. And yay to no spillage! (Probably not for toddlers though, I think, as they are glass) Actually, I would totally use one of those — yay to no bugs falling into my drinks at outdoor barbeques! How‐to on A Bit of Sunshine.

 

I love how simple this is — just pineapple, banana, coconut milk, and ice! Can’t wait to get some coconut milk and try it :D Recipe on Make and Takes.

 

I’ve mentioned how much I love the idea of cupcake in a jar — here’s a red velvet version! Mmm cream cheese frosting… From Not Martha.

 

Simply awesome way to organize desk! Via How About Orange.

 

Everything about this is so beautiful. I especially love the tiny switch. Book lamps were available for purchase at this Etsy shop but now it’s sold (not that I could afford it anyway. I can only admire them with my eyes). (via Inspire Me Now)

 

Much more affordable (and makes me equally happy) is this panda mug set! :D Isn’t he clever? (not that I will spend the money. I will be content just hugging it with my eyes). From Mod Cloth (also via Inspire Me Now).

Happy Friday, everyone! :D

 

 

mobile casey and stripy jack

Mobile Casey and Stripy Jack are mobile phone cases or jackets. I initially made Casey (right) as a birthday present for Mike. I worked on him on the subway and on my lunch break at work so Mike wouldn’t know. He’s a big fan of the Ugly Dolls, so Casey and Jack are kind of like fan art, I guess. Mike loved a cellphone‐eating monster but it was a bit too snug for his iphone, so I ended up remaking the design and created Stripy Jack (left), who fits the iphone perfectly.

Casey, however, fits my phone perfectly. And I have a really basic phone that is 1 3/4″ wide, 4 1/4″ tall, and 5/8″ thick. So the smaller pattern may fit a phone with similar dimensions.

 

Mike wanted the top part to be able to flip back completely…

so he can use it like a sleeve, plug in his earphones, and put it into his pocket. So Casey and Jack were designed around that idea.

To make your own mobile phone‐eating monster, you’ll need some worsted weight yarn (I used acrylic because it’s nice and durable) and a 3.75mm hook. And a bit of felt and sewing needle and thread for eyes and teeth.

It’s really rather straightforward and size is easily adjustable.

For Casey (the smaller monster):

Row 1: ch 15, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in each ch across, turn.

Row 2: ch 1 (does not count as 1 sc), sc in each sc across, turn.

Repeat row 2 until piece measures 11 inches, fasten off.

Assembly:

Fold the bottom short end up to the 7th or 8th row down from the top, like so…

Fold the top 7 or 8 rows down, like so…

Secure the folds with pins and crochet the two long sides together. In the top part where there are three layers of fabric stacked together, crochet through all three layers.

(You can also sew the sides together, but I find crocheting creates a more sturdy seam. With sewing, you may want to consider reversing the folds i.e. folding the top down first, then fold the bottom part up, and then turn the work right side out when finished.)

Cut out teeth from felt and decide on placement. It’s best done with the phone in it, so you can see how much the top of the teeth and the front flap need to overlap (I didn’t have the phone in mine but it worked out).

Sew teeth to the piece behind the front flap, and eyes to the front flap.

Because when the front flap flip backward it will leave the stitches behind the eyes exposed, here’s a way to hide the sewing stitches behind the crochet stitches (the tutorial is for sewing a lining to a crochet bag, but I hope it helps!). And here we have it, Mobile Casey! :D He looks concerned for some reasons… hmm.

Now for Jack (the larger iphone‐eating monster):

Row 1: ch 17, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in each ch across, turn.

Row 2: ch 1 (does not count as 1 sc), sc in each sc across, turn.

Repeat row 2 until piece measures 12 inches, don’t fasten off.

Jack needs more head room so it can be flipped backward more easily, so it needs short rows on either side of his head, as follows:

Row 3: With hook and yarn still attached to one corner, ch 1, sc evenly down the long side, turn,

Row 4: ch 1, 1 sc in each of next 8 sc. Fasten off.

Row 5: Attach yarn to corner diagonal from beginning of Row 4, ch 1, sc evenly down the other long side, turn.

Row 6: ch 1, 1 sc in each of next 8 sc, fasten off.

When the side rows and short rows are complete it will look like this:

Assembly:

Fold the bottom short end up to the bottom of short rows, like so…

Fold the top down, like so…

Secure all layers with pins and crochet the long sides together. Sew on eyes and teeth. And here’s Stripy Jack! :D

Enjoying an afternoon snack…

 

Pretty easy, eh? Feel free to drop me a note if you have any questions!

Happy Thursday! :D

 

 

 

shirt dyeing — round two!

I won’t give up on you, cotton shirt, no I won’t!

After failing to dye this cotton shirt pink with beets last time, I thought of another dyeing method I’ve been dying to try (yes, pun intended).

Sharpies! :D

I first saw this Sharpie dyeing idea here, and then I came across another one here. I didn’t have coloured Sharpies though, nor do I have an eyedropper. But I figure I’ll just use my black Sharpies, and a paintbrush would do.

Aside from getting a slight headache from the alcohol fume afterward, I’m rather happy with the result :D

 

And the back…

 

And a close‐up of the sharpie circles…

 

The white tunic was made from an extra large men’s t‐shirt. I can’t tell you how I made it though, because it’s kind of free‐formed :S I cut off too much from the sides initially and had to sew on strips of fabric to each side afterwards. It’s not symmetrical at all, but it fits!

To get rid of the Sharpie smell I put it in the wash with dark clothing (and socks. We — OK, I — figure they’re old socks so it wouldn’t matter too much, and it’s time Mike gets some new socks anyway), and it didn’t fade! :D Just stained the white areas in a few spots on the same shirt, but it didn’t stain the white socks that we had in the same load of laundry.

Dyeing with Sharpies is new to me but I later found out that it isn’t such a novelty, there are tons of tutorials and videos on it! Here’s a video on dyeing a scarf with a wavy‐stripe pattern. Very watercolour‐like, which I like. Might have to try that when I get some coloured Sharpies!

On a related note, beets didn’t quite work for me but my sister‐in‐law commented that red wine might work, though it would make a ridiculously expensive dye. But then I thought, isn’t wine just fermented grape juice? What about grape juice? Apparently it works well! I found this tutorial for t‐shirts here, and for yarn here. Will have to try that too!

Thank you for visiting and stay tuned for more experiments! Happy Wednesday! :D

 

 

 

beet love

 

 

It was Mike’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to bake him a cake. After seeing the beet cake video by Tiger in a Jar I thought, why not? I’ll make a beet cake! :D

And after reading this post about tie‐dyeing with stuff in the kitchen, there was no way I was going to just pour all that beet water down the drain — I’ll dye stuff with it, while I bake the cake! :D

So we got the largest bunch of beets in the grocery store (they were sold by the bunch, not by weight).

 

They had beautifully ruffled leaves with red veins.

 

I cut and boiled the beets in a large pot. Even threw in the stems, because they looked really red.

 

I boiled the beets for a long time — probably too long — so I could get as much colour out as possible. But that was probably why the cake in the end didn’t taste much like beets :P After taking the beets out I threw in a tied white cotton shirt and went on with the baking.

 

It called for baking chocolate but I forgot to buy it. But we had chocolate coins! :D So I used those instead.

 

The cake batter was SO pink!

 

While the cake was baking, I took out the shirt and let it dry on the clothing rack. I was pretty happy with the shade of pink. I also added a bit of cotton yarn to the dye bath half way through.

 

Ta‐da! The cake was done! :D

 

Happy birthday, Mike! :D He liked the cake. I think it tasted good, kind of like carrot cake. Just a bit disappointed that it wasn’t pink inside, and the bits of beets had turned into a shade close to that of raisins.

 

The recipe yielded quite a large cake. It stood pretty tall in a 9″ round pan. I probably could have made a smaller round cake and a loaf. We brought half to church the next day, and spent the next two evenings eating beet cake for dessert. It was good though!

The yarn turned out with beautiful shades of pink after it dried.

 

And with it I crocheted a free‐form heart.

 

The shirt, though, faded a lot as it dried. So I dyed it again (I saved the beet water in the fridge after the initial dyeing, just in case I find other things to dye in the next couple of days), added vinegar to it this time (because I read somewhere that it helps to fix the colour in the fabric) so the whole shirt smelled like pickled beets. The colour was more intense the second time. And I ironed it as it was drying (because I read somewhere that it also helps to set the colour). And then I put it in the wash because I couldn’t possibly wear a shirt that smelled like pickled beets. And when it came out, all the colours had faded to a yellowed old shirt colour :(

 

There’s no way I’m going to rinse the dyed yarn then. And the yarn doesn’t smell as much like pickled beets.

Well, I was hoping to dye fabric without special dye agents or fixatives but it looks like the colour wouldn’t stay otherwise. Or perhaps I didn’t do it right… anyway, it was a fun experiment and I can always use the shirt for some other dyeing experiments ;)

Have a great start to the week, everyone!