Category Archives: Project Post

When Worlds Collage

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When Worlds Collage

So hey, for once I’m not drag-assing in here at the last minute. I made this thing Wednesday and Thursday, and I’m pretty pleased with it.

It’s already been delivered to its destination. It’s a hand-made card made up of 3 collages, announcing to my friend and coworker that she’s getting an official Random Act of Kindness bestowed on her. For those who are just dropping in or haven’t seen any of my previous posts about Random Acts, it’s a non-profit organization that was dreamed up by actor Misha Collins and made reality with the help of people with mad non-profit organization skillz. It encourages acts of kindness on large scale (a trip to Haiti with a couple of dozen volunteers to help out a clinic and orphanage, which is going on right now) and small, and funds various cool things. I’ve sent in a few proposals, and finally got the go-ahead and the funding to do a project. In celebration of my friend, who gives up evenings, weekends and even vacation time to lead a Boy Scout troop and be on hand at the camps, and also hosted an exchange student for the past 9 months (and I never knew what a huge undertaking that is until now), I get to take her out for a day of pampering — mini-spa day plus a fancy dinner.

My original plan was to spring this on her as a suprise after luring her somewhere on the pretense of helping me with something, because that’s another thing about her that I wanted to celebrate too. She’s even loaned me her car for several days when mine was in the shop. But it finally occurred to me, in the immortal words of Boromir, “One does not simply kidnap one’s friend for a spa day.” And saying you need help with something “and be sure to shave yer legs” is just WEIRD. So I decided I must issue a spoiler for the occasion, but make it an occasion. I mulled over exactly what kind of card to make — I already had decided on the wording but needed to figure out what images to pair with it. I’m very fond of making collages, so I played with some images that were suggested by words I was using, and I raided my stash of awesome papers. And I played with fonts until I found a few that worked with each phrase I wanted to illustrate.

Epic Mod Podging ensued.

Page 1 is kind of a semi-private joke. (Which run about half the cost of a private joke, so it was more in line with my budget.)

Surprise!

“Shock and awe” is a great phrase, and I planned on using an image from the first Gulf War (where the phrase originated; it was the code name for the US war effort), but then in the middle of paste-up I started feeling hesitant about using bombing images — and, well, that pretty much WAS the first Gulf War. So I whipped out my trusty art book which I got for $1 because it was damaged (actually I got something like 5 of the same book, because y’know, collage) and started leafing through for images. Lo and behold, I found Martini’s Annunciation, which I saw in Italy and is one of my fave Annunciations. I mean, awe is the expected response here, but there’s such an air of pissiness in that look between Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, and just WHAT.

Why the stink eye?

So I pasted them onto the bombing photo (which I guess qualifies as actual photobombing) and did a little more leafing through the art book until I found a picture of two little boys peeping at people in a park. I gave the trees a bit of a trim (ahem) and put them in prime gawking position. There’s kind of a lightning bolt thing, too, which is the remnant of an apocalyptic painting on the reverse of Mary and Gabriel’s page. Decisions, decisions.

No shocker jokes here.

I had thought about grabbing some suitably bizarre picture(s) of Misha Collins off the internet for page 3, to go with Random and Awesome. But my printer was running low on colored ink, so all that came out was Misha’s shirt. I’m nothing if not adaptable, so I rummaged through some scans of Victorian ephemera I had made for a GISHWHES project. The Victorians were not only random but really kind of creepy and disturbing, and lo, I found this weird baby king with a duck on his head holding court with these two other babies with … something … on their heads.

We told you it was a random act.

The last little bit is one of my last pieces of Kinukinaya stationery (it’s this humongous Japanese bookstore in NYC, which has pens and stationery sets to DIE for) tucked away in an envelope, describing what the Random Act is all about. Sparkle paint was liberally applied to the envelope.

Then, since I had some tracing paper I had bought for another project, I decided to protect each page with a sheet. Automatic classiness!!! Then I punched holes and tied it together with yarn.

And then I delivered it, and it was appreciated not only for the message but for the weird me-ness of it , hurray. And cutting stuff up out of things you’re not normally supposed to cut up, and then pasting them down, is a pretty good stress-reliever, too.

Man, I miss Kinukinaya. Would love to go through there with an unlimited wad of cash to get my paper and pen freak on.

Doodle bug

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Doodle bug

Somewhere along the line, maybe while putting a lot of my craft supplies back where they belong, it occurred to me what I should do to improve my mood while making something pretty — I made a ZenTangle[tm].

ZenTangle is a meditative form of doodling, basically. There are a multitude of doodle patterns (and more being developed all the time by its fans) but they can all be broken down into 4-6 steps each. There’s a general system to it, so you can concentrate on making your designs on the not-very-griddish grid called a string. So your main choice is which doodle you’re going to put in each segment of your string. They look very intricate and complicated, but they can be broken down to simple elements. It’s involving and soothing and you wind up with a pretty piece you could frame or make into a card or whatever. And artists work them into their art — including quilters.

So now that I’ve given my decidedly non-official description, you should go check out ZenTangle.com and TanglePatterns.com. There are better descriptions of what they are, what they accomplish, useful info on materials, and tons of patterns broken down into easy steps.

The Pigma Micron .005 pen is what’s recommended for the fine detail, and that’s what I used. There’s also a special card of a specific size designed by the ZenTangle creators, which I did not use. I used a scratch pad made from high quality scrap paper, somewhere around 4″ x 6″.

I drew my borders in pencil, as well as the string (004 on the Tangle Patterns string list). I’m pretty new at this, so I started the piece with my favorite tangle, Cadent. It can look a bit awkward as you’re going along, but when you get the dots connected in both directions, it comes together amazingly. I didn’t look up the steps, just went with what I remembered, so it began a little rough at the bottom until I remembered how it went.

Getting started. The earlier in the process, the more washed out the pictures, so this one’s a bit overexposed.

Connecting the dots:

I just love how forgiving this pattern is. It’s a great pattern for actual aimless doodling, too.

The next pattern I chose was Henna Drum, which was on the first page of the TanglePatterns blog. Very pretty, but I got the petals a little too spiky. I think it will look great when I’ve had more practice. I threw in a couple more once I realized my problem.

The spiky ones.

So I added in a couple more blooms, paying attention to rounding the petals this time. In the meantime I’d filled another segment of the string with Beadlines. This is one of the few tangles without an actual diagram of how to draw it, because it’s pretty simple and apparent.

Aaaaannndd then I skipped a couple of steps, or photographing those steps, anyway.

Here is the complete tangle. I added filler to the henna drum segment, and added three more tangle patterns.

The total Tangles I used here were Cadent filled with Ahh, Henna Drum, Beadlines, Squid (upper left corner, maybe a little too cluttered with the spiral filler I added; it’s hard to see the pattern well), Clothesline (next to Squid) and Limpitz (smished between Cadent and Beadlines). Ahh is also very simple and so without a diagram, but the others have step-by-step instructions linked from their page on the Tangle Patterns site, so you can see exactly how I did what I did and occasionally variations. I advise browsing through the collection and putting together a Tangle. It’s very engaging and enjoyable.

I have done a tiny bit of incorporating these into art pieces — I made a set of coasters with needle-felted tangle patterns in very 60s feeling motifs — and I’d like to do some more.

For now, here’s today’s tangle from a different angle:

Cadent wants to be at the bottom, either way I tilt it. I think mostly because of the amount of real estate that it occupies here.

So…Funk eased. Project done.

East meets vest; Project 17

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East meets vest; Project 17

This embellished denim vest is a project that I’ve been working on for a couple of months on and off. Both the vest and the fabric came from thrift shops in Austin. The print fabric came from a silk tunic of the type Indian women wear, which had some ripping at the sleeves.

It’s certainly proof that my hand stitching doesn’t get any better with practice, though in my defense the vest is a thick and unwieldy piece to sew. And it’s definitely proof that I need to get over myself and start using the sewing machine. This would have been done in a day if I’d done so, and the stitching would have been better, and I wouldn’t have found myself with a big fold of off-kilter fabric as I neared the end, as it would have been easier to pin properly. I took it back and forth to various places to work on, and hand it folded or rolled much of the time, with just a pair of pins to keep things in place right where I was working. I worked on it at art class, once during lunch break at work and carried it around at Wiscon but never pulled it out once.

Not the ideal way of working, but I still think the result is cute and wearable, and I don’t think the flaws will be that visible unless people are up close looking for them.

But yeah. Next big project like this (and I have one), I’m going to get that sewing machine figured out. The only reason I’m being so chicken about it is that I haven’t touched a sewing machine in decades.

Anyway, the result:

Not bad for someone who doesn’t know what she’s doing. But seriously. This took MONTHS. So using the sewing machine next time.

I am wicked tired and almost went to bed after posting just the one photo, but I’m sure the mistakes are what you come for, yes?

Sometimes freehanding not so awesome.

I wanted the gold trim to line up with the bottom of the vest (as much as a straight piece would line up with a curved vest), so I had to come up with something to get rid of the excess material, so I just folded it into a little dart and hand sewed it. Not the greatest solution, but it worked, and the colors and the print hide a multitude of sins.

Yeah, that little tuck.

Okay, I’m thoroughly knackered, so that’s it for tonight.

Oh, and I also sewed a little piece on the front, too. It may need something more, but I’m considering it done for all intents and purposes.

A little freeform circle on the front pocket. Needs salt.

A quick cuff upside the head (Project 16)

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A quick cuff upside the head (Project 16)

Since I forgot to transfer the pictures I made of this week’s project to my computer, I couldn’t post my project on the usual day.

This is a pretty simple and quick craft, since I was away last weekend visiting my friend on the other side of the state, and then this whole week has been taken up with Wiscon art show prep.

My friend and I had a quick bite at Alterra coffee before she had to go to her pre-performance call, and I stuck around and had another tea and did some quick needle felting. I made three cuffs, all cut from the ends of sweater sleeves. I left them in a circle rather than fussing with figuring out a closure system. My only problem was the fact that the size of the felting mat (which is actually a brush that holds up the material you’re felting to while letting the needles penetrate), while still small, is big enough to stretch out the cuffs a little bit. I used two balls of felt for the bigger decoration — one looks like yarn but is just roving that’s about a finger width around instead of a largish skein; the other is actually yarn with fatter spots and thinner spots. I just freehanded it, winding the bigger pieces of roving into various designs including a handlebar mustache, and putting little designs around the others.

Two by two…

…hands of blue.

Another thing I used was a little disk of lint that came from the lint trap at my mom’s house when I was felting sweaters there. She has a lint trap that fits over the agitator, and it formed several adorable button-sized disks, so I saved them and dried them. The two-toned circle on this one came from one of those lint bits.

Smaller bits from the lint trap also make nice starters for wee paisley. Just shape it a bit more, pop another color in the center, and there you are.

And here’s the third one I made while perched at the cafe waiting to head to the concert. I call it the Karwacki, after the cop with the astounding handlebar ‘stache who presided over my first car accident.

I went a little wild with it, size-wise, so you can’t see both ends of the ‘stache in the same view, but you get the idea.

I have a writing project I’ll be doing for an upcoming project, but it probably won’t be done in the next week. I’m thinking something fairly low-key is still a likely outcome. It’s been an exhausting month, and other aspects of life are fairly tiring just now, too.

Scarf by a Thousand Cuts: Project 15

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Scarf by a Thousand Cuts: Project 15

It’s been a bit of a busy weekend. I ran a ton of errands Saturday morning in a string from home to Milwaukee, where I stayed with my friend Saturday and then went to the Bel Canto Chorus performance of Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater.” Which brought up tons of thoughts about creativity, and tied in with other thoughts about creativity I had been having, and I’m hoping to get them all into a post which makes some sense. Which is damn inconveniently timed, considering I also have a ton of things to finish getting ready for my art show booth. But I’ll do my best to do that soon.

So this week’s craft isn’t actually a “finished it at the last minute” piece — it’s been ready for a while but I haven’t had time to sit and write about it. It continues the theme of hacking up tee shirts, only from a perpendicular perspective. It’s another Pinterest-inspired project, which I found here:

http://psimadethis.com/post/117053343

The P.S. I Made This blog is pretty cool, by the way. It takes a lot of designer looks and shows interpretations of them that can be pulled off for much less (or nothing) using recycled items or stuff you already have around.

So I had one of the two print tees I’d bought at the Mart of Wal, one which got made into several necklaces and bracelets last week, after being tossed into a dye bath. This time I didn’t over dye the print, just used it as is. Cut it so it was a tube shape, cut the strips, pulled them (and despite what I’d read somewhere, they do curl up the same whether you cut jersey with or against the grain). And I’d stumbled onto some pretty little shell danglies at Jo-Ann Fabric, so I decided to sew one on every third fringie. I wanted the scarf to stay print-side out, so I folded the intact part of the tube inward and put a couple of stitches at four different places about an equal distance apart.

Simple, cute.

The really daring, I suppose, could wear it as a skirt.

And a close up of my own variation:

A closer look at the shell embellishments I sewed on.

This one will be for sale at the Wiscon art show.

‘kay, it’s been a long day, so no brilliant posts of theorizing or anything. I hope y’all have great plans for the holiday weekend (those of you who will be having a holiday weekend…) Do something creative, yeah?

Let’s try this again…

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Let’s try this again…

Some of the first pins I saved on Pinterest were various things you could do with t-shirts, and I finally got around to a couple of the ones I’ve been wanting to try. This is one of those crafts I’ve done in stages: I dyed two tees turquoise in the same dye bath as my jeans I did a long while back. Neither one was pure white; one was a print tee I got at the Mart of Wal for $3, and the other was a Race for the Cure tee with about a million logos all over it.

I’d tested cutting a few strips off each to see if they would curl — some tees, like the thick cotton ones Lands’ End has (or had at the time I bought mine, about 7 years ago) don’t curl. But both these did well. I finally got around to cutting all the strips — still attached at the sides, so essentially a big circle of fabric about 1″ wide — on Wednesday at the art gathering I attend most weeks.

Sunday I finished them, trying out several different kinds of ways to bind the strips together. Just to be sure, I sewed them together, then covered those bits (and the parts that wouldn’t curl because there was a seam) with other fabric.

I braided 3 different colored strips of yarn made of sari silk and wound them around one set of tee strips. Bright and colorful, but the strips of silk are very ravelly, so there’s a kind of hairiness that obscures the fact that it’s braided to some degree. (The tee strips don’t ravel, by the way, since they’re knitted, not woven.

“Opera length” schmatta necklace.

I have discovered that sari silk yarn will shed like a bastard, so be advised. You will wear this long after you wear it.

The print shirt had side seams, which made it a little tougher to get a smooth look. I made one long necklace with strands from the seamless tee and the one with seams, letting those land wherever they would, and I wound a tee strip around the loops.

The color is actually a lot more vivid than in this picture; it’s just like the rest of the items in this post.

The next item I made from the print tee, I doubled the loops so all the seams were together, then put a stitch in to keep it in place. I hid that behind a big button, and now I have either a shorter necklace or a bracelet that wraps around my wrist 2 or 3 times. (I go for 3.)

I like big buttons, and I cannot lie

In fact, the “opera length” necklaces can be doubled too, like such:

The wrap holding the loops on this one is a 5.5 mm yarn with a honeycomb pattern between the edges.

And to wind this up, two more bracelets I made from the sleeves of the bigger tee — the print had cap sleeves that didn’t allow cutting across the knit. (And this was something I added on my own; none of the tutorials I saw used sleeves — now if I could just figure out a way to use the part from armpits to neckline…)

The closure here is the border from an Indian silk tunic I’m working into another project. I wish it were rounder, but I’ll get that figured out at some point.

…Aaaannnnddd, that’s a wrap.

Dammit! Lost post!!!

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I am too tired to rewrite this.

Tutorials here: http://www.wholeliving.com/133536/recycled-craft-t-shirt-necklace

Results here:

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Bracelet version (my own variation):

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I did a number of versions of these, and can post more pics and more about what I did when I am not so damn tired and crabby.

Can I take an incomplete? Project #13

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I spent a lot of my weekend moving furniture and cleaning the carpet in my living room, or recovering from doing so. And despairing over how the process of cleaning something could create such utter chaos in my house and hoping I could get things somewhat sorted by the time I have company next weekend. But I finally did settle in while waiting for the carpet to dry, and finished a project I’ve been working on for a while.

Well, not quite…

I’m close to finished, but I need another four buttons to finish my cuff bracelet, and some kind of closure that uses them, so I’ll have to hit a fabric store or the dreaded Walmart. (All right, I admit it — I bought the original eight buttons at Walmart. So yes. That is where I will have to go.)

Once more, my fondness for using bits and bobs and irregular leftovers bites me in the butt, but I don’t think I care. I had half a cowlneck sweater in alpaca wool left over from another project (the Occupy tent? Can’t quite remember), so I figured it would make a cool cuff, though it’s not exactly a fit.

When I was in Austin, I bought some silk hankies at a fiber store. They aren’t actual hankies but the silk pod from a cocoon that’s been stretched out over a square frame. The pack I bought was dyed a delicious mixture of purple and blue called Spilled Ink. I thought that would make a great thing to use as an overlay on the alpaca, so I attempted a wet felting, adding some wool into the mix to get fibers of both the silk and wool sticking to the alpaca. Not a great success (or even a medium success), as they just peeled off the alpaca. But I liked where it was going so I pulled out the felting tool and needled away.

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The matter of closing the thing is probably the trickiest of this whole project (yes, it’s free-handed). I liked the thought of a row of tiny buttons, very Victorian in that fiddly sort of way. My first thought was that I’d make a loop of elastic on the opposite side and slip them over the buttons, but I don’t think I like the way it looks.

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Made the decision to put another row of buttons on the opposite side instead, and I guess I’ll try some kind of lacing system to get the thing to close. I’ll have to report on that when it’s finished, but I think I have a way to get it to work. Maybe a couple of options.

After adding the last bits of roving into the design, I am pretty happy with what I have. I did sew on a couple of wee little beads, remarkable more for the source than anything else. A year or two ago I bought an armload’s worth of wee beaded bracelets on eBay that Eliza Dushku had donated to one of her favorite causes. (I don’t even want to say what I ended up spending because I could not allow defeat.) Some of the stretchy little bracelets are so stretched out they’re just loose strings, more or less, so I had planned to use them in various projects, but this is the first. I put in three, just for a mysterious bit of sparkle, and I might add more later.

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Alas, I got nothing done for the art show at Wiscon, which had been one of my major goals this weekend. I have the stash of silk scarves, of course, but I wanted to have a few different types of art up there too. Well, after I have finished moving all the furniture back into place and completely spiffed up the guest room. Ahem.

By the way, the color of the alpaca is truer in the second picture, not the yellowed first or third. My camera’s batteries died and so I had to use my phone.

 

And hey, as of today I’m one-quarter of my way to my goal. WOOOOO!

The Fast and the Furious: Project Post #12

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The Fast and the Furious: Project Post #12

Even though I said I didn’t want to, I started sewing on one of the projects again. Made some progress, but realized I couldn’t possibly get it done today (tonight), so I grumped around and finally decided to try tie-dyeing a silk scarf with food coloring. I’ve never dyed with it before, but a crafty friend had told me she’s done it, so I thought I’d give it a try. I bought both kinds of food coloring, but went totally with neon for this one.

Everything I used, except water, vinegar and the microwave.

So basically, I just kinda made this system up. I did use the tie-dye method I’d learned in the class where I made last week’s project, the scarf with felting. Made little bobbles of glass pebbles tied off with rubber bands, most with one, but a few with two or more. I think I like the ones and twos best.

I have nothing witty to say here. Try back later.

I really liked the way the ligatures turned out in the tie-dying in that class, but was disappointed that I seemed to have lost those subtle details completely in all the sudsy water rolling and rolling to felt the fuzzy bits on. So I’d been wanting to use that method another time.

Or this one, either.

Wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do from this point, where I’d squirted most of the bobbles with food coloring. Then I checked out the chart on the back of the boxes telling how to make different colors, and oooooohhh. Due to my ongoing love affair with teal, I picked that color and mixed the blue and green as directed for cake batter. I mean, I dunno. Then I poured on 1/2 cup of boiling water onto those color drops as it said in the egg dyeing directions, and I splashed a bit more vinegar than the amount they said (because I hadn’t noticed that they called for vinegar at all). Then I poured the boiling water with color onto the whole scarf and put it into the microwave for a minute. Again, I dunno. I just made this up as I went along. I might’ve given it more time, but I got nervous when I peeked at it and it was steaming heartily. (A touch of PTSD after burning the silk/wool scarf, maybe?) So I took it out and let it sit for a while.

Dunno if the steam will show at this resolution, but trust me.

Once it cooled down, I undid all the ties and hung the thing up. I’m pretty damn excited about it. Love that I can mix up some cool, non primary colors.

And there it is, fresh out of the microwave.

You can see the designs the ligatures made.

Neat, huh? The tighter you get the rubber bands all around the scarf, the more of those subtle markings you'll see.

And one more bitchin’ closeup.

So need to play with these colors some more. So so cool....

This is so what I needed today: a project that gets me fired up again and has me plotting what other things I want to try. I have a great idea, but I’m not sure how to execute it (uh-oh. That’s always the way that leads to disappointment).