My Art Project – Completed!

I finally completed my “art project“. It started with some old (cheap) drawers that weren’t needed anymore, and some calendar pictures that I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. I glued the calendar picture to the bottom of the drawer and then covered it with a gel medium mixed with some blue paint. Then I mod podged black tissue paper on the sides of the drawer, and applied a hard coat on top.

Four weeks later, the hard coat has (in theory) cured. It’s been a long and hard journey, but I think the end result is worth it:

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I love the rustic effect of the tissue paper combined with the brush stroke effect of the gel-paint combination. Almost lets me get away with saying I painted them myself (other than the lying that that would require, that is).

My main disappointment is that the “hard coat” of Mod Podge doesn’t seem to be particularly hard in this climate. The drawers are current stacked on top of each other and they keep sticking together..which tends to pull of some of the glue when I separate them. I think I probably would’ve been better off using the outdoor Mod Podge instead.

The only other disappointment is that I ran out of paint just close enough to the end of the last drawer that I couldn’t justify buying more, so it looks a bit patchier than the other 3. I’m not going to tell you which it is though, just in case no one else can tell.

Overall, though, I’m pretty pleased with myself for coming up with the idea and following through with it–and that the end result is something worth keeping!

Materials upcycled: old drawers, old calendar.

Materials purchased: paint, gel medium, mod podge glossy, mod podge hard coat, a paintbrush and 2 sponge applicators (I unwisely let the glue dry on the first one).

Have you ever taken the leap to upcycle something instead of getting rid of it?

The Art Project: Part 2

After several weeks of delay (thanks to an unfortunately sick Boots, who is now, hopefully, on the mend), I finally started the second part of my art project.

The second part only requires 3 materials: the drawer, mod podge, and tissue paper torn into small-ish pieces.

Instructions: Sponge a layer of mod podge on the drawer, put the tissue paper on, sponge some more mod podge on top. Then repeat to fill in any gaps.

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The smaller pieces, plus the wrinkles in the tissue paper, give it a great texture.

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And that’s how it looks so far! I’m very excited as to how it’s turning out–I wasn’t sure the tissue paper would work as I wanted it to, but it’s perfect.

I will be evening out the border around the picture, as well as doing the remaining exposed drawer. I’m planning on doing the top edge last because I think that will give it the best look. My only regret is using glossy mod podge instead of matte. The whole project is going to reflect a lot of light when mounted on the wall. Maybe a light sandpaper will help reduce the gloss?

Stay tuned for part 3: actually finishing this extremely drawn out project!

My “Art Project” – A WIP

I was never a painter. My ability to look at something and paint/draw it to life are limited. It’s always been a bit of a sad point for me, as it seems like an amazing talent to have. To want to draw a penguin (or a boat, or a cat, or…) and just be able to do it. Maybe I’ve just never spent enough time on it. All I can tell you is that natural talent just isn’t there.

So, when I say “Art Project” I mean it involved paint, but in the most unskilled sense of the word.

It all started with some drawers. We have this shelving unit, which had shelves and drawers you could rearrange any way you wanted. But instead of helping us stay organized, it was accumulating crap and taking up space. So the shelving unit itself is going to be repurposed (but that’s another post…you know, in 6 months or so when I actually get to repurposing it). Which left a few drawers with nothing to do.

And then I had this calendar. A beautiful calendar, with pictures of the northern lights.

I thought, hey, why don’t I glue these calendar pictures to the bottom of the drawer, cover the rest of the drawer in black (somehow), and then hang it on the wall. The lip could be used to display knick knacks!

Yup, genius.

So, I mod podged (it’s not made with animal bits!) that calendar to the drawer and….there were bubbles. I thought it would be better the second time…but it wasn’t.

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I might have been able to pull it off if I’d managed to get all the ripples on the water half of the picture

And that’s one of the better decoupage results.

I needed something to obscure the wrinkles in the paper. Fortunately, my local craft store was up to the task. They helped me pick out just what I needed to get the job done.

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Meet Amsterdam acrylic paint in prussian blue, and Golden heavy gel medium (semi-gloss). The heavy gel was initially white, but since I suspected I’d be using the whole jar, I just mixed the paint right in. It only needed about 8 small blobs of paint.

I painted it over thickly, trying to give each calendar page a more brush stroke-y look.

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Beautiful, no?

As it dried, the gel medium turned mostly clear, leaving a blue brushstroke effect on top.

But, since I appear to have entirely failed at taking a picture of that final product, you’ll just have to take my word for it for now.

Next up, Fun With Mod Podge Part II: Tissue Paper. Because naturally, when I thought “How do I make the drawer black?”, I came up with, “Black tissue paper”. Not something logical, like paint. Yeah. Wish me luck?

What’s your favourite “art project”? (Projects gone into with logic and skills are not acceptable answers)

Triangle Mug Cozy Pattern

It has certainly been awhile since I designed a pattern. I would like to say that this pattern is a brand new creation, but in fact I designed it many, many years ago as a scarf. I haven’t touched it since then, and when I was asked to knit a mug cozy for a gift this year, I realized it was time to resurrect it.

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This pattern can be scaled to be wider or narrower, just cast on any number of stitches that is a multiple of 4 and adjust the pattern accordingly. For a smaller mug, it would probably be best to either use lighter weight yarn and smaller needles or do 12 stitches instead of 16.

Materials: Loops and Threads – Charisma (i.e. bulky weight) in two colors; Size 7 DPNs; (These are what I used, feel free to use smaller yarn and needles); Button with large holes; Tapestry needle

If you are uncomfortable with knitting straight on DPNs, you will also need straight needles of the same size, and will need to transfer to the DPNs for the binding off process.

Skills: knit, purl, i-cord

Main Pattern:

Cast on 16 stitches in C1
Notes: The key to this pattern is to not pull the yarn tight when switching colours. Allow the pattern to keep the colours together, otherwise the holes won’t form. 

Row 1 & 2: With C1: (k2, p2)* rep til end
Row 3: With C1: (p2, k2)* rep til last 4 stitches, p2; With C2: k2
Row 4: With C2: p2; With C1: (k2, p2) rep til end last 2 stitches, k2
Row 5: With C1: (k2, p2)* rep til last 4 stitches; With C2: k2, p2
Row 6: With C2: k2, p2; With C1: (k2, p2)* rep til end
Row 7: With C1: (p2, k2) x 2, p2; With C2: k2, p2, k2
Row 8: With C2: p2, k2, p2; With C1: (k2, p2) x 2, k2
Row 9: With C1: (k2, p2) x 2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 2
Row 10: With C2: (k2, p2) x 2; With C1: (k2, p2) x 2
Row 11: With C1: p2, k2, p2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 2, k2
Row 12: With C2: (p2, k2) x 2, p2; With C1: k2, p2, k2
Row 13: With C1: k2, p2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 3
Row 14: With C2: (k2, p2) x 3; With C1: k2, p2
Row 15: With C1: p2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 3, k2
Row 16: With C2: (p2, k2) x 3, p2; With C1: k2
Row 17 & 18: With C2: (k2, p2)* rep til end
Row 19: With C1: p2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 3, k2
Row 20: With C2: (p2, k2) x 3, p2; With C1: k2
Row 21: With C1: k2, p2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 3
Row 22: With C2: (k2, p2) x 3; With C1: k2, p2
Row 23: With C1: p2, k2, p2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 2, k2
Row 24: With C2: (p2, k2) x 2, p2; With C1: k2, p2, k2
Row 25: With C1: (k2, p2) x 2; With C2: (k2, p2) x 2
Row 26: With C2: (k2, p2) x 2; With C1: (k2, p2) x 2
Row 27: With C1: (p2, k2) x 2, p2; With C2: k2, p2, k2
Row 28: With C2: p2, k2, p2; With C1: (k2, p2) x 2, k2
Row 29: With C1: (k2, p2)* rep til last 4 stitches; With C2: k2, p2
Row 30: With C2: k2, p2; With C1: (k2, p2)* rep til end
Row 31: With C1: (p2, k2)* rep til last 4 stitches, p2; With C2: k2
Row 32: With C2: p2; With C1: (k2, p2) rep til end last 2 stitches, k2

Chart:

Triangle Chart Repeat rows 1 – 32 until desired length is reached. For a built in button loop, continue as follows, otherwise, bind off here.

Button Loop: Bind off first 7 stitches, then with the 7th and 8th stitches, knit an icord of the desired length to go around the button. K2tog with the 8th stitch and the 9th stitch, and the 7th and 10th stitches. Bind off all remaining stitches.

Button: Use tapestry needle and one of the yarn colours to sew the button onto the desired location. Make sure the loop will fit over the button snugly.

This is a great pattern for a beginner, as there aren’t many fancy stitches involved, yet the outcome is stunning! It’s got a texture that not only looks good, but also makes it easier to grip.

Pattern can be found here on Ravelry!

Upcycling and Consumerism

In the past few months, I have discovered something about myself. I really love crafty magazines. This probably shouldn’t be surprising, but as someone whose only magazine subscription was 2 years of I-didn’t-read-it-at-all scientific american. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read it, there was just never enough time to read all that text. What there is time for is to look at pretty pictures and choose which text I want to read. Enter craft magazines.

First, I found one that mostly pulled items off of etsy, and while it had some instructions, it was too….well, something. I didn’t enjoy it enough to want to get another one. But then I found GreenCraft Magazine:

 

This is the second issue I bought, as I liked the first one enough to continue picking them up. There was something quite magical about all the different ways people had found to upcycle everyday materials. And unlike the other magazine, they weren’t just featuring the items without explaining–every item had a “how to” associated with it.

And then I found another upcycling magazine, so I figured I’d better pick that one up too.

This one is different than GreenCraft, it still has tons of cool ideas and tutorials, but it also features some products without instructions (but that is still made of upcycled materials). As well as having a guide to a useful skill related to crafting. I don’t know if this is how all of these magazines are/will be, but hopefully they will, since it is nice to have it be its own magazine instead of a copy of the other one.

In short, I love both of these magazines, and highly recommend them. If I had to pick one, I would probably pick GreenCraft, but only by a little.

These magazines have inspired me to start looking at everyday items a bit differently. For instance, instead of buying organizers for a shelf we have, I’m making them out of cereal boxes and tape. Infinitely cheaper, and still just as functional. (And I can cover it in wrapping paper / magazine pages to make it pretty.)

It’s also helped me take a serious look at my consumerism. It isn’t the only motivator I’ve had to do that, but it has certainly contributed. Why would I buy things when I can make them? And for each thing that I can’t make, but I want to buy, why do I want it? Is it going to be useful in the long run or just a space consumer?

And, really, what better time to be extra conscious of consumerism than Christmas-time? I am finding the commercialism fairly terrifying, this year. It kind of makes me want to hide in a corner. But instead, I’m going to try do do things differently. Other than a few thoughtful, high quality gifts, mostly I will be giving handmade items, or donations to a cause on the person’s behalf. It won’t be quite as “SHINY!” as previous years, but it will be so much more meaningful. Because I have enough, and so do the people I’m giving to (no offense!). But, there are lots of people and animals who don’t.

Who knew a magazine could change my world so much?

Wedding Wrap-up: The DIY

Today is the last of the wedding posts. I had a lot of fun making things for my wedding, and I certainly learned some new skills as a result. While these pictures were all seen before in a previous post–this time, I’m going to talk about all the details in depth.

The gift table - which had to be pulled under the tent when it started to rain. We made the guest book ourselves, and the guest fish was a wonderful idea from my new mother-in-law (photo taken by my lovely friend Nicole)

Photo taken by my lovely friend Nicole

The gift table was anointed with a card box, which was simply our wedding-colour ribbon glued around the top edge of the box. (Thanks to my Auntie Jo for that idea!) We also used coloured cardstock as a backing for signage, like the day’s schedule. They were held up by flower wire and tape, nothing fancy.

And lastly (for this table, at least), is the guest book. It was a 1 x 6 of poplar, cut to size and stained blue, then a couple of holes drilled into it. The inside was cut up pieces of 12×12 scrapbook paper. It was all held together by 1″ binder rings. It was really simple, and turned out really beautifully. It also means there don’t need to be any extra pages hanging around in there!

Picture taken by my lovely friend Nicole

Picture taken by my lovely friend Nicole

We used the rolls and rolls of our wedding colour ribbon as table runners. I can honestly say, I bought way too much, and now I have ton of ribbon sitting in a bag at home. Fortunately, I have some ideas for it already! (coming soon, hopefully!) The pompoms took up their final home on the ceiling of the tent. My partner tied each pompom to varying lengths of cord, then tied all of those to more cord that was draped from side-to-side in the tent. In the end it looked like coloured stars hanging from the roof. Unfortunately, there aren’t any photos that captured this phenomenon, so I hope you can picture it based on the snippet at the top-left corner of the above photo.

Most of the effort ended up at the head table. A couple of weeks before the wedding, I realized that the head table should probably look unique, and not be just a plain, floor length table cloth. After some brainstorming, I realized it was the perfect spot for the tulle flowers, and we bought some sparkly tulle to drape between them. (I also added a bead for the center, and some green tulle “leaves”.)

Behind the head table was The Ribbon Wall. Not just any ribbon wall, as this one was 18 feet of luxurious double-faced satin ribbon, in 4 different colours. The idea was discovered on pinterest (don’t they all?) and I knew I had to have it. I was more excited about this project than any other I took on! Which is good, because it wasn’t an easy one. It took about a month to find a place that would sell us enough ribbon (400 yards!) at a not-too-expensive price. With shipping it came out to be about $140.

Each piece of ribbon was cut to 10.5 feet, just half a foot longer than the height of the tent. I was concerned that if the wind picked up, they’d whip around and would have to be anchored down, but instead, they simply fluttered (beautifully) in the gentle breeze. What you can’t see is the piece of fabric at the top that was sewn to keep all the ribbon perfectly spaced, as well as have room for a rope running in the middle. It was designed to keep everything as easy to set up as possible on the big morning. The thanks for that goes to my sister who sewed together that fabric, despite my mediocre-at-best pinning job.

It was perfect because, not only was it beautiful, but it also allowed people to dip in and out (like the photographer), without sliding in between a tent wall, or having the not so lovely view of the house behind us.

Were all those details worth it? Definitely. No question, yes. It made it so much more us, because we both love making things with our hands. Was it cheaper? Well, that’s debatable. I didn’t really keep track. Maybe a little. But it was full of love, from the things we made, to the people who celebrated with us, and that, as they say, is priceless.

And that’s a wrap! Are there any details or posts you especially loved from this series?

Place Cards

Safely back from my honeymoon, I am still reeling from going back to work after all that time off. In short: both the wedding and honeymoon were fantastic, and I can’t wait to share them! But I really do need some time to get back into real life, and collect the best pictures to share. So first, as promised awhile back, we’re getting back to the crafty roots of this blog.

Place cards. My plan, initially, was simple. They would be text, on a small piece of paper, folded over and put at each place setting. But then, I was presented by a dilemma–since we were serving wine at the wedding, how would people keep track of their glasses? That’s when I realized that the place cards could do double duty as wine glass markers.

First, I picked up some earring hoops from an etsy store to use as anchors. Although I could have made them myself with some wire and a jewelry jig, I just didn’t have the time and sanity for it.

Image from Forever Rose Designs on Etsy

The rings were about 1.4″ in diameter, which was around the perfect size for a wine glass with a 3″ base.

Then, I printed names on card stock, and left extra room on each one for a stamp from the lovely Etsy store Norajane. I used inks of different shades of blue and green for each one, to keep with the multi-coloured theme. All that was left was a 1/8″ hole punch, and to put the ring through the hole.

The end result exuded a simple, functional, elegance. Which is exactly what I was going for.

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Image taken by my lovely friend Nicole

It’s not the most original idea–although I did come up with it on my own–and I’ve definitely seen fancier versions now. But it is a really simple way to make place cards that are much more functional. My 9 year old cousin liked hers so much she asked very shyly if she could keep hers. That’s always a win 🙂

What’s your favourite simple but elegant craft idea?