Paper Chandelier

I managed to get the bulk of my Christmas shopping finished in October and November, leaving me some free time this month to finally tackle some projects that have been on my Make board for quite a while. One of them was an idea I had for a chandelier-type, mobile-like paper thing to hang over the dining room table.  I loved these colorful versions, but I wanted translucent white and I wanted it to be round.  Kind of like this one.

I had a giant stack of translucent vellum left from my days as a paper hoarder, so I got to work cutting out many, many circles.  I used two different sizes of circles, one I traced from a 1-ounce plastic container and the other I traced the lid to a sugar bowl. Fancy!  Then, with opalescent white thread, I ran the circles through the sewing machine in random patterns of five large and three small (to keep the length of the strings consistent).  I tied all of the finished those strings onto a brass hoop from Jo-Ann’s that I painted silver, and…voila!

I love it, and I can’t believe I finally made it after thinking about it for so long. Next up, I’m brainstorming ways to hang a solar light inside it so I can get it to glow without stringing lights in it.

Shop Update

It’s been a million years since I had a shop update. You know what took me so long? I couldn’t find the right thing to model the necklaces on when I took the pictures.  I tried bottles and glass hands and everything else I could think of and nothing looked right to me.  I heaved a big sigh and finally broke down and bought one of those generic, black velvet neck forms.

There was another problem, though: it was a generic, black velvet neck form and I hated it. So, what did I do with it?  I made a paper maiche facade for it and painted it white. Of course, duh!  Seriously, a little tissue paper, a little wheat paste, and a little white acrylic paint and now I love it.  Luke thinks it looks like a creepy, old lady neck, but I think it’s neutral and lovely with an interesting texture.

So finally, FINALLY, there are some new products in the shop.  I hope you love them.  There are a few extra long, Mandi necklaces, some fun summer-colored three-strand Andrea necklaces, and more necklaces and earrings to come over the next few days. Go check it out!

Buy Handmade!

I’m breaking my blog silence for a very important announcement: you must come to Eastford this weekend to buy handmade!

That’s right, this weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm, I’ll be participating in the Green Valley Arts Local Artists Holiday Sale at the Charlie Brown Campground in Eastford, CT.  Some of you reading this might think that Eastford sounds far, far away, and it sort of is, but it’s beautiful and an easy ride and so worth it to get a start on your holiday shopping by supporting local Connecticut artists.  Also: FREE REFRESHMENTS.  And if you’ve ever been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of my aunt Gail’s chocolate peanut butter squares…let me just say, I’ll be making those to share. You won’t want to miss that.

So what are you waiting for?  Go write it down on your calendar right now!  Saturday and Sunday December 4th and 5th, 10am-4pm both days.  The Campground is on route 198 (Chaplin Road) which is right off of route 44 – super easy to find.

Now that I have you convinced, let me tell you what you’ll see there.  There will be eleven artists in all including:

Paula Apro – fused glass & beaded jewelry, digital art photography
Bags by Lynn – purses and tote bags, holiday ornaments (Saturday Only)
Ashley Flagg - Hand spun yarns for knitters, crocheters and weavers, as well as handmade fiber art batts for spinners and felters (Sunday Only)
Lisa Gaumond – funky jewelry, handmade bags and purses
KK Custom Designs – custom interior and exterior signs & letters
Ashleigh Kay – fine art note cards, calendars & journals, printmaking, paintings & ink drawings
Dan Merlo – woodworking, cutting boards, shelves
Jill Merlo – nature and landscape photography
Kathy Pelkey – fine art prints & collages and handmade pillows (Sunday Only)
Alice Porter-Flagg – handmade aluminum bracelets & earrings,shadow boxes with costume jewelry creations (Sunday Only)
Amy Zera – handmade gift bags, meditation cushions and holiday stockings

I’m super excited about the handspun yarns and the aluminum jewelry, and, who am I kidding? I can’t wait to see all of it!  I bought a cutting board from Dan Merlo over the summer at one of the open studio events and I have to tell you, it’s my favorite thing in the kitchen right now.

So anyhow, please come, support local crafters and BUY HANDMADE!

Rex and Steggy

RAWR!

Valentine’s Day seems to be about a hundred years ago, but since I’ve been MIA for so long, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I’d like to introduce you to Rex and Steggie, (or Kissasaurus and Huggasaurus Rex, as I called them when I delivered them), two felt dinos I made for Cameron and Alex for Valentine’s Day.  Back around Christmastime, Cameron saw me knitting and asked me to knit him a dinosaur.  I said “maybe” which he took to mean “absolutely, right this minute!” and from that day on, each time I saw him he asked if I’d gotten a chance to make him that dinosaur “like I promised”.

Valentine’s day seemed like a good excuse to fulfill my promise, but I decided that I had no hope of knitting them so I’d make the dinos out of felt.  I played around with some paper pattens and came up with Rex first.  He came out perfectly and I nearly sprained my arm from patting myself on the back.  I just sewed a toy!  Very exciting.  After Rex, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make two of the same dinos to avoid the “I wanted that one” fights, but that seemed boring so I challenged myself to make a pattern for Steggie.  He was supposed to come out smaller than Rex but, sadly, things didn’t work out that way.  That left me with a dilemma.

Big brother, Cameron is on a kick now where he has to be the biggest, best, fastest, the one with the most guns, the most powers, etc. etc.  So… would he want the biggest felt dino, or the smaller T-Rex dino, since T-Rex was the king of the dinosaurs?  I couldn’t decide so I consulted my sister who said he’d want the biggest one.  I think I would have lost either way, but unfortunately when I delivered them on V-Day, Cameron complained that he didn’t get Rex until I told him that he was hurting my feelings.  The next night I watched the boys so my sister and her husband could go on their belated anniversary/Valentine’s Day date and both boys tucked their dinos into bed with them when they climbed under the covers so I think that everyone was happy in the end.

Beth’s Diaper Bag

My lovely friend Beth is having a baby in a few short weeks and her friends were sweet enough to invite me to her baby shower last weekend.  I’ve had an aversion to registries for as long as I can remember, so I decided to make something for mom and baby instead of buying off the registry.  Enter the crazy what-was-I-thinking moment that brought me much dread and anxiety: I bought a sewing pattern.

You know me.  I can’t follow recipes and I hate to follow sewing patterns.  They confound me and frustrate me, and yet, I bought this one.  This pattern is Butterick 4560 (and despite all of my whining, it was actually fairly easy to follow).  I bought the pattern and the fabric and sat and stared at it for about two weeks, dreading the task.  I finally decided to suck it up and start cutting. And several (many) hours later, I had this!

Cute, right?  The fabric on the inside is “Baby Story” from Heidi Grace.  It has little doodles and words all over and says “A tall bird came and brought me a gift… of all the gifts I have ever received, this was my favorite — the gift was you.”  I’m not sure who to credit for the outer fabric but it was from Jo-Ann, Etc.

I made some changes to the pattern (shocker, I know) like this antique button closure on the side pocket.  It was supposed to be Velcro, as was the closure on the main flap.  I have a weird tactile issue with Velcro and decided instead to use this cute button on the side and a small magnetic snap on the main flap.  I also didn’t make the weird strap pad you see in the pattern pictures, it seemed unnecessary.  And I didn’t make the tab on the inside that would have had a clip for your keys.  That also seemed fussy.  I did add in all of the elastic pockets and pouches and, despite the I spent about 28 hours making it, I’m pretty darn proud of myself for making this bag and for (mostly) following the pattern.  I may even attempt another one for another pregnant friend of mine.  We’ll see.

Embroidered iPod Cozy

What can you possibly get an 18-year old boy for Christmas?  Heck if I know, but the 18-year old boy in our family got what he gets every year: an iTunes gift card.  Since his sisters were getting little handmade goodies to go with their Borders gift cards, I decided to make him a little fleece case for his iPod, and since he loves The Nightmare Before Christmas, I decided to try embroidering a Jack Skellington head onto it.

It’s not perfect, but it’ll do.  I embroidered Jack’s face onto the white fleece first and then cut out the shape of his head and stitched that to the case.  I made it just the right size for his iPod Touch and even added a little button closure onto the bottom.  Cute, no?

Tomorrow’s Christmas Craft: Andrea’s cowl and the skull and crossbones hats

Silhouette Ornaments

I had seen some beautiful silhouette ornaments in early December on someone’s website who linked to someone else’s website…  I really should keep better track.  Either way, those ornaments and the beautiful silhouettes on Nie Nie Dialogues tempted me to finally try making my own.  Only I cheated.  There will be no fussy paper cutting for me.  I’m a trace and paint kind of girl.

I either set up shots like this one (nice hair) to capture everyone’s profiles, or I went through my Flickr stash and tried to find profiles of everyone in the family.  I sized them appropriately to fit on the wooden discs I bought, traced the profile outline from the photos, transferred the outlines to the painted discs, and painted in the shape.  Voila!

I am truly amazed at how each person’s (or dog’s) profile really looks like them and also how incredibly different my sister’s profile is from mine.  Although I think we look alike, we could be strangers based on our profiles.  So interesting!  Can you tell who’s who?

After the paint was dry, I glued that fancy black and white paper to the back side of the discs and hung each ornament from black and white ribbon.  These were a gift for my mom, whose profile shot I didn’t have so I’ll have to add her to next year’s set.  I’m really pleased with how these turned out and I’m thinking of making another set for my Christmas tree.

Tomorrow’s Christmas craft: embroidered iPod cozy

A Constant State of Catching Up

So many great ideas…  It’s a good thing I didn’t resolve to get things done on time this year.  I wanted to tell you about the Christmas presents I made.  I started a “year in pictures” for 2009.  I have a hilariously embarrassing video of me attempting to play a dance game on the Wii to edit.  So many fun things to share!  Is it too late to catch up?  I hope not.  But in the interest of not boring you to death or overwhelming me, let’s start off slow.  How about I show off one or two Christmas crafts a day and then maybe I’ll have the slideshow and the dork video finished this weekend.  Sound good?

Today’s Christmas craft was one of my favorites and also one of the most irritating projects: the knitted disguise.

Have you ever tried to knit something that just didn’t want to be knit?  Seriously, I started this project about five times, knitting it halfway, then tearing it apart before finally finishing this one.  Do you get it?  It’s a neck warmer, and a disguise.

You couldn’t tell it was me, could you?  I saw the idea on Knitty and loved it.  Of course I didn’t follow their pattern or directions (hence the knitting, tearing out, knitting, etc.) and I made up my own mustache pattern that I knit into the neck warmer instead of sewing it to the outside of the finished project (as in the Knitty directions), but I love it.

Tomorrow’s Christmas craft: silhouette ornaments.

One more week…

I was trying to capture the magic of the glowing Christmas tree in the dark house but all I got was blurry pictures and a confused, sleepy dog who kept trying to lick my face and understand why I was laying on the floor at 1 in the morning instead of sleeping.  (In a related note to Santa, that tripod on my list would have made these pictures come out much better. Hint, hint.)

I’ve become an obsessed crafting insomniac this week and it really needs to stop.  Around 9 each night I get a second wind and realize that there’s so much left to do – things to knit/paint/sew, laundry to wash, carpets to vacuum – and they must all be done before I go to bed!  I don’t think I’ve hit the sack before midnight all week.  Last night I laid down to read at about midnight but my book is interesting and kept me up reading until nearly 1.  At this rate I might just crash and sleep all the way through Christmas day.

Let’s see… there’s one more week until Christmas, two more days of work, one more birthday dinner to host (tonight), one gift to knit, two to sew, and several more thank-you cookies and treats to assemble and bake this weekend.  I think I can make it.

Happy weekend everyone, let the Christmas countdown begin!

Placemat Pillowcases

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My sister recently got new living room furniture and I had this idea that I wanted to give her the perfect patterned pillows as the best new couch-warming present ever.

I wanted a good quality fabric with a fun pattern and I know she likes circles and dots, but none of the fabrics I came across were just right.  Disappointed, I left the fabric store and went to Pier 1 for a completely unrelated reason (to buy myself something shiny) and a spotlight shone down, angels sang and these placemats fell off the shelf and onto my feet.  They were, and are, perfect.  Also on sale.

Why did I not think of this before?  Placemats are essentially pillowcases sewn shut.  All I did was cut off the stitching around the edges, trimmed them to size, sewed them back together, and voila!  The most perfect pillows for my sister’s new living room.  Just don’t tell her — I’m giving them to her tonight.