Category Archives: Project Post

Hit the deck!

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Hit the deck!

So I have this porch fantasy that I’ve had ever since I lived in NYC. I got to indulge it bigtime during my vacation in Austin this spring, though the balcony was a fairly small one, it was just about perfect. I actually have a deck where I am living now (actually a small upstairs one and a bigger downstairs one), but both of them get a lot of direct sun after about 11 a.m., so I haven’t been using them as much as I thought I would when I was lusting after my very own porch back in NYC.

Spent some time looking at pergolas and quailed to discover they are heinously expensive, so imagine my glee when I found a tutorial through Pinterest on making a simple portable sun shade. So I let my porch lust flower again, this time going into epic Outdoor Living Room mode.

I haven’t done the sun shade yet, I think because I’m intimidated by the cement work that goes with making the shade poles, but I have started on the project nonetheless.

It begins with a relic of my NYC days, a crappy low cabinet of pressboard with white laminated finish. It was half of a two-piece thing, with a shelf hutch on top. The hutch is in a closet pretending to be useful pantry shelving (that is another project which will be an enormous obsession, I can tell). The cabinet has been trailing around with me through the last couple of moves (when a company pays for movers and gives you three weeks to uproot your life, EVERYTHING trails around with you), and most recently it’s been in the basement.

So I finally hauled it out and onto the downstairs deck to spray paint it. My plan is to nail a trellis to it to create a little bit of a screen so neither the neighbors or I will feel on display if we both happen to be out on our decks. There may or may not be outdoor sheer curtains.

So here’s step #1:

Ombre cabinet. I used 3 shades of spray paint.

It’s not smooth and perfect, and I’m totally fine with that. This is going to be sitting out in the weather, so it’s meant to be pretty casual. (The streaks, however, are just where I wiped a bit of dew off the top before toweling it all off.)

It hasn’t been the most awesome spray-paint weather this summer — it’s either too hot or crazy humid or both. We had a cool day so I jumped at it. Next is probably the trellis. Whenever.

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Don’t worry, it’s only a nip

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Don’t worry, it’s only a nip

Wednesday night I made another “bleach-paint” tee on another shirt with an unfortunate rack/grease spot OTP, this time using a stencil, and I really like the design I ended up with. It will surprise no one who’s been reading along so far that it didn’t come out perfectly. I was very careful to peel off the stencil carefully, but I still got some marks on the shirt, which don’t look it in the pictures, but came out looking kind of gray.

A little bit of bleed, so this is probably as fiddly a design as I’d be able to do with a bleach pen, but I like it and don’t mind the bleed. There are the grayish streaks, too, so next time I’d probably scrape off the bleach before removing the stencil.

The stencil, by the way, was made with two smaller stencils I got in a pack at Walmart, with lots of fleur-de-lis variations and other swirly bits, plus simpler shapes like the circle. I traced them onto white removable Contact Paper, then flopped the swirly design on the other side of the circle.

Like so.

I don’t have pictures of every step, since I did the Contact Paper bits at my art group gathering Wednesday night. Like I said, the design was a little fiddly, tough to cut out perfectly, but I don’t think it really made a difference with the bleach bleed anyway. But here it is with the bleach on.

Slightly different color results from the previous brown shirt I did, but that could be the smidge of spandex content in this tee.

Love it, totally planned to wear it to work the next day, but when I put it on … well, the combination of the circles, the placement, and the flesh* color (*flesh color according to the adhesive strip bandage industry, at any rate) made it seem just a little … nipply.

See? Or is it just me?

I decided making it not flesh* color in some way would probably decrease that effect, or my neurosis about it anyway. I considered a tie-dye look craft I’d seen done with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol, but the attempt I made on a test piece (I KNOW!! For once I used a TEST PIECE!) wasn’t awesome, so I decided not to go for that.

TEST PIECE! Who would have thought?

So I decided on the lace-spraypaint technique and just plowed ahead with it. I think that solves the prob, or maybe I’ve just stopped being neurotic about it. I thought I’d do something to mask the gray spots, so I moved the lace piece to different spots along the front and spray painted here and there. I ended up with some spots that were spray paint blobs, but I decided (once again) that I really don’t mind that. I have a printed tee I got at Maurice that looks like I rolled around on the floor of a wine bar or something, so it’s not a deal-breaker.

So here’s the final result!

I’m very pleased, all in all.

And a close-up.

Can’t wait to wear it!

Raclette, meet rack

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Raclette, meet rack

Last winter I discovered raclette, the absolute perfect food. Potatoes, melted butter, melted cheese. What’s not to love?

Ah, that. The pure liquid fat dripping off the fork and right onto my chest. And the plain t-shirt I was wearing for the first time. Raclette, just like salad dressing, likes big busts and it cannot lie.

Solid color tees, so great because they go with everything, are always the most endangered item in my closet. If they make it past a third wearing without being consigned to the pile of formerly wearable at work clothing, it’s a minor (and temporary) miracle.

My Pinterest board titled “T-shirt Renovations” is chock full of ideas for t-shirt fixes, so I thought I would share some of my attempts to rescue splattered tees.

The first one I did quite a while ago, shortly after the Raclette Incident. I found a perfect stencil in a pack I had bought, using my oil paint Shiva Sticks. The bigger circle in the center is right where the raclette spot was. It filled in nicely (though the iridescent charcoal and silver paints came out looking pretty matte black and grey on the cotton jersey).

Hit me with your Shiva stick, hit me, hit me!

Until it went through the wash. Then the paint over the grease spot faded out. I started drawing it in with a Sharpie in a moment of boredom, but I figured that might not end well. I have had some thoughts on how to deal with that center bit, but it involves a little something I have lost track of and I didn’t want to go buy another (and the hardware stores are closed on Sunday anyway). It’ll make a return engagement when I find the missing piece and get the project done.

Just recently I saw a P.S. — I made this! post about spraypainting a top through a yard or so of lace. So happens I bought 2 lace curtains at a Goodwill recently for under $5 total, so I cut one of the panels and spraypainted copper fabric paint onto this brown tee. The result is so subtle in person that the lace effect is pretty lost, but it looks like the stain was taken care of.

Um, well.

Neither thing appears to be true in this photo. Haven’t decided if it needs something further, or if I should just wear it as is. Since it’ll be 97 degrees F tomorrow and this has long sleeves, I have some time to think.

I also have a big piece of painted lace to use on some project.

I have some thoughts on that, too.

This last picture is the t-shirt rescue I like best. I’ve seen this one on Pinterest too. You make a design with the Chlorox pen on a colored shirt, let it rest 30 minutes, then wash. I freehanded the design, based on one of my favorite ZenTangle designs, the henna drum. I simplified it way down because the fine point of the double sided bleach pen is still pretty wide — it’s for stain treatment and not drawing, after all. There’s bleed, but I still love how it came out.

Life’s a bleach and then you dye.

I’m really looking forward to wearing this one.

Invisible Project

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I have, in fact, been working on a project all weekend long. You just can’t see it.

This one’s a short story. It’s a gift, part of a summertime gift exchange, and authors can’t reveal their identities until all the stories are posted, which is expected to be in September.

So maybe now is a good time to write about the gift culture of fandom and crafting, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

Or maybe not, yknow, now, because it’s time to get myself ready for work.

I hope to get some small project done in the next day or two as a visible project, and yes, also a post about gift culture.

Now was that so hard?

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Now was that so hard?

Well…sort of.

I got up first thing and took 2 pictures of my project and as I was cropping them on the computer I noticed something that’s barely noticeable on the actual thing, so I had to fix it. Did that, photographed it, and now I’m ready.

So, the project itself. This is one that started out in one of our women’s art gatherings. I’d brought another project to work on, but I saw what everyone else was doing, and I was all, “Ooooh, shiny!”

Literally, because we were using shiny silver metal tape [tm] to make fake pewter medallions. This was a project I’d seen done before (when I was also hell-bent on some other project) and thought was cool, so I jumped on the second chance. There’s a lot you can do with this method — adding them to altered Altoid tins (and I really would love to have a supply of these tins, but I am not a person who regularly sucks on mints), or make art cards of them, or do what I did here, adding it as a decorative element to a box.

The shiny silver metal tape [tm] can be found at hardware stores or places like WalMart. I hear there’s now a lookalike of plastic so you have to be careful you really have the metal type. It’s on a roll about the size of duct tape.

The big thing you can do with this tape (other than whatever its actual purpose might be) is play with texture. I’ve seen some very pretty cards made where it’s been taped onto card stock and then rolled through an embossing machine. But for this project we used pre-cut chipwood shapes and used little shaped paper punches on card stock. One of our group uses old plastic cards as her design base — used gift cards, stowaway hotel key cards and the like. Some of the group combined different shapes and came up with some really cool abstract designs. I found a paper punch with a tree design (probably for Christmas card projects) and decided to make a wee forest, and I chose a round chipwood precut as my base, since I decided to put it on a round paper mache box.

The box, by the way, was one of those items that sometimes appears in the stash of art materials in the famous back room at these art gatherings. Sometimes people start working on something and then lose interest, or they’re only there for one time (we get the occasional tourist passing through who comes to art night, which is pretty cool). So this box was one of those pieces, with a patchy coating of white paint. I kind of liked the effect, which made me think of birch bark, so I left it as it was. It could probably look more like birch bark, but I decided I’d rather have it be suggestive of such than be taken too far so it looks nothing like it.

On to the fake pewter! One of the regulars taught us this project, which she’d gotten from a show on HGTV before they switched their programming all around to appeal to a different demographic. Take your backing chipwood piece and glue on shapes of card stock or more chipwood, then carefully tape over the whole thing with your shiny silver metal tape [tm]. Your edges will overlap a little bit, but you want to rub them down so they’re hardly visible. We used orangewood sticks like you’d get in a manicure set. The same stick gets rubbed over the shapes around the edges so there’s some definition there. It takes a while to get the tape pushed down over a complex grouping of layers, but you want to be careful not to punch holes in the tape.

Once that’s done to your satisfaction, the next step is to etch some designs into the surface of your medallion. I went with some simpler Zen Tangle filler patterns, varying the patterns in different areas, as I would in a paper-and-ink Tangle. This part of the project I did a while back, so I can’t remember what I used to make the etched parts — something more pointed than the orange stick, but not so sharp it would tear the tape.

That’s as far as I got the night of the art gathering, and the box and the medallion have been sitting among my stash for a while. So finally I pulled it out and finished it, which was pretty simple. The last bit for the fake pewter is to brush on black paint so that it goes into the etched lines, then rub it off with a tissue so that the paint stays in the lines but mostly comes off the rest. It might take a few times to get it right so all the paint doesn’t come off, and if you rub too hard over the seam where the tape overlaps, it can curl up or wrinkle.

Painting in progress

So after the paint dried I glued the medallion piece onto the round box, and then it was done.

Done. At least I thought so.

So there was a spot that looking at it in person I thought might pass for a part of the fake wood, but that is one photo that screams “tiny coffee stain!” So this morning I grabbed some craft whitewash and a tissue and dabbed some one, and I think I’ve nailed it.

Are your papers in order?

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Are your papers in order?

When I travel, I still like having my flight stuff on pieces of paper, even though it’s electronic all the way. And you may have noticed a good many airlines save money by not even giving you a little envelope with your gate number marked on it and your boarding pass tucked inside. I like having an envelope with all my documents in it that’s not just a plain white envelope, so when I reach into the chaos that is generally my purse, it’s readily findable. I used to have a pack of long envelopes with a rose design all over them (and a lighter color box in the area where you write the address), but they’ve been depleted after a few years of travel.*

So I just got back from a visit to my longtime friend who lives in the DC area, and my project of the week (last week, ahem) was a pair of envelopes that are made from cute template giveaways on the Hermes website. Found the link on Pinterest, which will come as no surprise to anyone.

The templates are paper clutches called Jigé, an envelope style with side panels that let it open outward a bit, and a tab that goes into an H shaped 3-D clasp. There are several premade designs you can download, as well as a blank one you can design yourself. I decided to make a couple of these as my travel envelopes.

Is it cheating if my craft is cutting out a template, gluing it together and mod podging the whole thing? So be it. Travel weeks are hard. Maybe at some point I’ll do the blank one and tart that up some with Zentangles or collage or something.

So the template prints out on 2 pages, like so:

Body of clutch

Side pieces and clasp pieces

I did some serious rassling with the clasp bits. On one version of the clutch I missed the little blue lines that indicated I should cut little slits on the body of the bag where the H-shaped piece goes. And as it turned out, the one I messed up was far easier to deal with. There was plenty of space for the long tab to slip through (too much, really, to keep the clutch secured), but when I did do the little slits on the clutch and slipped the back tabs of the H piece into it, I couldn’t get the tab in at all. So gluing the piece without slipping any tabs through the little slits seems to work best.

(All the guesswork in this post is due to the fact that there aren’t instructions for how things should be assembled, just a little legend that shows you which lines to fold and which to cut, and where to glue.)

The clasp bit gets the most folding, and winds up a 3-D piece when you get it done.

WHAT THE H?

H yeah, almost done.

Fold fold fold, glue glue glue.

Together at last.

Then I slathered the whole thing with Mod Podge, so it would hold together a little better in transit and usage.

And here are the two clutches I made. The one on the left is the one where I think I did things according to … well, no directions, but where I made the cuts. The right is the one where I didn’t see the cut lines and just glued the clasp on. You can see which clasp actually worked, can’t you?

They got a little battered because the shoulder bag I was using was too small, but they held up decently for paper. One of them had the tab come off, and truthfully, I think I’d rather make a version without the tab and clasp at all. A little dot of sticky Velcro or something would hold it together just fine without the tearing paper, I think. But someone out there might have better luck interpreting how the thing is supposed to be assembled and have a better result.

From what I can tell, there’s not a direct link to the templates, but here’s a way to get there:
http://lesailes.hermes.com/us/en/
After some animated stuff, there will be a grid of pictures without explanation. In the center is an orange circle. Two squares to the right should be an image of a hand and a white bag with the words “I want it, I’ll have it!” Click on that, and you’ll find the templates for the different clutches. You might want to grab them sooner rather than later; Hermes apparently had a previous paper template bag that is no longer available.

And here’s a better look:

I am a sucker for Day of the Dead images, so that’s the other one I made. Cute printed on stitches around the edges make them both look like more work than they were.

*The envelopes get quite battered after a trip to and from, but I’ve saved some of the used envelopes to incorporate rose designs into collaged boxes that I’ve made as gifts. The creases and worn edges add a nice element of age to the project.

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.