Crafty Christmas Wrap Up

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So this year, due to budgetary concerns, and my own resourcefulness, I tried to make as many of my holiday presents as possible.

For my roommate I created a design with a stencil and bleach pen. I would like to note for anyone else thinking about this project, use a plastic stencil. I used a paper one, and upon hindsight, I should have at least laminated it. It turned to mush after it served it purpose one last time. It was one of my favorites, and I feel like I should have played taps.

ImageI then outlined it with fabric marker and selected an iron on from a book I had purchased a while ago. I chose the Razzle Dazzle because we went to see Chicago this fall. 

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Mom asked for a Kindle cover. I began looking on line and was inspired by all the covers that look like books, even saw some made from books. I saw one made from a Nancy Drew book, and I thought surely I can find a tutorial online and make my own. I definitely wanted to make the Nancy Drew cover, because that was one of the introductions to reading that my mother grew up with and got me into. 

I used this tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPKXzJao41A

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I also made some jewelry for my friends. I’ve seen the button bracelets going around Pinterest for a while and wanted to give it a go. I’m always looking for things that are simple and mostly a reuse. I’ve been saving buttons indefinitely and haven’t found a good purpose for them, but until this point. 

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I also made button rings. Some materials held with crazy glue, sometimes I used Modge Podge (because it is essentially white glue, and what I had handy). I have to thank Eric for giving me the antique buttons he didn’t need. I was also quite proud of the one that I used 2 buttons on, one inlaid inside the other. The ring base are readily available at your local craft store.

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I also had a clear square glass block that was just begging to be made into a statement ring. I painted on the underside of it with acrylic and glued it onto a ring base. I had debated finding an image to use, as opposed to painting. I may try that next time. I like the abstractness of the ring with the warm colors.

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I also had some charms to make earrings from. I had bought them over time, but never the fish hooks, so I used them all over this holiday. Sometimes it pays off to be a pack rat…

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Over Thanksgiving “break”, I got my car inspected. (I know, you’re saying “How does this relate?” Stay with me…) We ended up at the decaying Century III Mall during the waiting game. At the mall I discovered a wonderful dollar store and wide wooden bracelets there. They also had matching earrings that I may need to go back for…

But back to the point, the bracelets. I thought right away about decoupage. Specifically decoupaging pages from a book as a gift for a literary minded friend. I had pages from the Kindle Cover project and who doesn’t like Nancy Drew? I had also previously found a really cool typewriter stamp and thought of the same friend. The only problem I had was that the stamp was bigger than the bracelet, so I tried to use the stamp so you can still see some of the typewriter detail. This was the result. 

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I thought it came out quite well. 

Everyone really seemed to like their handmade presents, and I did get a few “Wait, you *made* this?” Which makes any crafter feel good. We always aim to not have it look like it was made at summer camp. To hear it looks semi professional warms the cockles of the heart. Hopefully they will be practical enough for use, because that is what honestly tickles me pink. 

 

 

On A Personal Level

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Taking a moment to reorganize my thoughts here. Every so often I like to review my goals, internally, and see where I’d like to go from here.

My goal for the fall was to finish unfinished projects, an it looks like this goal will carry over into the winter:

  1. I want to finish my failed lace and watercolor painting. I’d like to create a tentacled Madonna (the religious icon, not the pop star) and print it on brown paper and decoupage that on the canvas.
  2. I want to finish the mosaic looking painting with either a quote or stencil. 
  3. I need to finish stringing the last of the safety pin bracelets I created.
  4. My ginormous quilt still daunts and calls to me intermittently. I’m not sure I can make it a functional blanket, but even if it was a giant wall hanging, I think I’ve put too much blood, sweat, and tears to have it remain folded in my closet, unfinished, for eternity.
  5. The basket weave purse, while too labor intensive to ever actually be sold, would be really interesting to finish and use. 

Also, I feel a purge coming on. With the current subscription to the Birchbox service sending me make up and beauty items once a month, and my general addiction to purchasing these items on a whim, I have more than I can use. You can’t donate slightly used eyeshadow to the less fortunate, so I’ll have to throw it away. Some of it is way past regular agreeable guidelines for sanitation purposes anyway. Some eyeshadow is probably… about 8 years old or so?… Look, don’t judge me. There are some colors I’ve held on to because you just can’t find them now. 

And don’t get me started on my nail polish collection. It’s looking like it’s going to overflow a beach bag. That ain’t right. 

So it’s all gotta go. Make up, clothes, jewelry, I’m sure the list will go on. I’ll try to free cycle or craigslist as much as I can. But I need to make some room for new things, new shiny things. The hardest part will be purging my craft supplies. Emotionally, I will have to overcome the urge of “I can reuse that”.

I will also be continuing to work on my zombie story and hopefully start a personal sketchbook, just for my own funsies (to experiment, etc.). I’d love to make it out of paper or old maps or something, but that might be ambitious. I also plan on keeping my word about blogging every Monday. It seems to be a good day for it, generally. At least for me posting it that is, y’all can read it whenever you see fit. I’d also like to make the blog look better, with a pretty layout and header, etc.

My weight and health also continue to be a struggle. In the coming year, I’d like to renew the promise to me to take better care of myself. And yes, someday I’ll make some grown up decisions. I need to get a stranglehold on my finances. I need to decide if I ever actually want to go back to school, or just let that sleeping dog lie. I’d like to buy a house before I’m 40. I may at some point decide I need a grown up career. Someday I’d like to have a car from the current millennium. Ideally, I’d like to reopen my Etsy store to make some money off the things I make. My last attempt was a bust. But all those things will be dealt with on their own time. 

Caviar

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So I’ve been dreaming of a DIY Caviar Manicure, ever since I saw it on a nail blog. But for the life of me, I could not find small enough beads at the craft store. So when I got the Sephora Winter catalog (well, to be entirely honest, my roommate did) and saw the Caviar Mini Bar gift set, and had a really good coupon, I dove upon it like a ravenous jackal. 

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From the Sephora website: www.sephora.com/ciate-caviar-manicure-P311207?skuId=1429562

Note — I couldn’t find the picture for the actual mini bar set. They may be out of stock. But the set has 4 different types of beads and 4 paint colors, plus a funnel to pour the extra beads back into the bottle. It also comes with a little instruction manual, but it’s fairly easy.

I elected to do an accent nail with the pearls and silver underneath. The black is not from the set.

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I’d say it has some staying power, about a week, with a thin layer of top coat. As long as one can resist picking at it, which for me isn’t easy. Also, I don’t know if it was because my nails are shorter, but the the tips felt scratchy. I’d recommend wearing gloves when doing the dishes or washing your hair, if you really want it to last.

Streets

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In the vein of consistency, I’m posting. This week there hasn’t been much to blog about, personally. So this week I’ll venture into some brief creative writing.

I had a moment the other day, walking home through my new neighborhood. I pondered the personality of this city I live in. It’s not easily encapsulated in a dialect and a sports team. There’s a rough edge to the people of this city. To live in this city made of hills and cloudy skies takes a determination. Every Spring, we wonder how we made it through another Winter.

Pittsburgh is a funny place. It sticks with you, to your ribs. You learn to live with the frustrations, the parking, the traffic. You learn to manage under chaos. The irrational laws and backwards policies that come from an old boy mentality that takes care of their own, but makes life difficult for the masses. The places I’ve come from have taught me how to hang on when the threads were frayed. I have learned how to perservere with the ebb and the flow.

There is a gritty romance to the place where I live. The neighborhood is a mix of old and new. There are little old women peeking out of their matching row houses in a variety of colors in housecoats and curlers, and kids drinking cheap, trendy beer on their porches. All walks of life are going about their business, hip hop culture mixing over with punk and hipsters. Still, I think at least once a week I hear someone on the bus talking about rehab and relapse.

Anything you could want, it can be found. Underground art and music are readily available. Like everything else, there’s a cycle. Sometimes what was once a favorite venue closes, but there will be another. We fight hard for our little treasures, our small theaters and non-profits. Sometimes we don’t fight hard enough, and don’t realize what we had until it was gone.

I curse this city when I trudge through the grey sludgy snow, when I sink into a dirty, muddy puddle. But I have a fondness for this city in its pretty moments. When I catch her in the right light her rough lines are like brush strokes. The rain on the bricks sparkles like glitter. There is a smoky poetry in the gloomy rainy days. The love/hate relationship tangled up with a pride that can’t be taken away. It’s like an inside joke that you just don’t get unless you’ve lived it.

I don’t know that I’ve painted the portrait I wanted. It’s like expecting one photograph to tell you the whole story. The story has as many facets as it has inhabitants. I can only hope to capture the sentiment of a moment, a moment that will stay with me in the core of who I am. This place is my home. These narrow, crooked streets are like the veins and arteries under my skin. Maybe I will settle some place else, some day, but this will always be where I am from.

 

Triumphant Return

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I know, I know. No sooner do I preach about consistency and make a commitment to post every Monday, than I kind of drop off the face of the earth for a couple of weeks. I’m working on improving that. I saw an info graphic that had me contemplating moving my posts to Fridays, but that never seemed to pan out time wise.

I’ve made some small things. I made a bracelet with string and washers. There was a prototype and a refined model. 

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I found a dollar store at a lesser frequented mall, while I was waiting to get my car inspected, and I found these wooden bracelets that were in different finishes. I also got one of those free animal magazines in the mail with adorable cat pictures. Put the 2 together with a little mod podge and metallic sharpies and I made this. 

Before Sharpie:

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After Sharpie: 

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Meanwhile, a coworker had asked me to make a cuff bracelet after seeing my furry leopard one that I made for myself a while back. I brought in some samples and we both liked this shiny Asian print fabric that I got from The Public Theater when they had their fall sale. 

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On the “model”:

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More to come soon, hopefully.