Ooh, shiny.

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I spent most of the day volunteering at Cary Creative Center, i.e. my new favorite place.  Most of my time was spent organizing a bunch of fabric scraps into coordinating quilting kits.  I wished I knew how to sew/quilt because I really like some of the kits I put together– in particular the blue ones on the right. 

Of course, I bought some stuff again.  I’m bad…I bought some scrapbooking paper in my wedding colors (which I’m realizing are just the colors of my life in general, since I have them everywhere).  I also bought some hemp cord, along with some wine corks for Barrett (he uses them for model pedestals for painting.  So not everything I’ve gotten there is for me at least :)  I think that’s better.  Maybe. Perhaps not.  Stop judging me.

02/05/2013 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

I am burdened with glorious breakfast cereal (and other things)

Prompt #9 (my 9th, despite some shuffling) January 9th: Make something with your breakfast before you eat it.

IMG_0096I had postponed this one previously because I didn’t read it until after I’d eaten breakfast and, not being a hobbit, I don’t routinely engage in second breakfast.  I usually have a cup of coffee and a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, so I tried to think of what I could do with Cheerios.  The obvious first thought would be some kind of jewelry, but a string of Cheerios isn’t all that creative or interesting.  I thought about arranging them on the table in some kind of creative way, and I thought that some kind of cross stitch pattern might be good. The basic ones are just on/off patterns and, if the design were only one color, then the Cheerios would work well.

There was no way that any decent amount of words would fit on the table (Cheerios take up a lot more space than you’d think) so I looked at the few cross stitch patterns that I currently owned, and decided that the easiest one to do would be this Loki one. So here’s the progression:

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IMG_0105If you’re wondering when I started to feel a bit silly, it was around here.

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Two things occurred to me around now.  1. I should have done some kind of tribute to noted Honey Nut Cheerios enthusiast Omar Little.  And 2. This probably was not going to fit.  At least without using the entire box of Cheerios.  So I decided to do only the helmet and stop there.

IMG_0114Ta-da!

If I were to do this again, I would have used regular Cheerios, because my fingers quickly became very sugary.  But who wants to eat regular Cheerios?  They’re really kind of flavorless.  Even Omar will only eat them if he has to.

Prompt #11 (my 10th) January 12th: Work on the other hand. Pick a medium you’re comfortable with, then work with your nondominant hand. If you usually favor your right hand then only use your left and vice-versa.

I decided to try crocheting with the left hand since I’ve been doing that with my right hand for 5 years.  And wow was it ever difficult doing it that way!  I decided to try a granny square. I got through one round before giving up.  And even then, I needed to keep switching hands just to wrap my mind around what I was supposed to do next.

IMG_0115Later in this entry, you’ll see what one of these is supposed to look like. And it’s not like that. At all. Like not even a little bit.

Prompt #12 (my 11th) January 12th: Camouflage. Make something that disappears into its background.

If you ever order something from Bed Bath and Beyond with gift-wrapping, know that they go a bit tissue paper happy.  It’s not even wrapped around anything or crumpled for padding. It’s like someone just throws a bunch of sheets in there on top of things.  So I had a lot of tissue paper. I didn’t want to throw it out, since it was hardly used.  When I read this challenge, I knew I had to use it.  Other than that, I’m not really sure where I got this idea from.  But I like it.

IMG_0131Yeah, I know I have the spoon and knife reversed.  Whatever.

Prompt 13 (my 12th) January 14th: Use tea leaves or tea bags (used or unused) or even just liquid tea (in a cup or not) to create something today.

I had read previously that you could dye yarn with tea, and Tazo Passion tea has a really nice deep red color. (And is delicious.) Long story short, it didn’t work.  I kept some fiber in the hot tea for several days (mostly because I got busy and forgot about it, and obviously it wasn’t hot the whole time) but all I got was a vaguely dusty pink color.  Fail.

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Prompt 14 (my 13th) January 14th: Make something microscopic. How small can you work? Can you make something that requires a magnifying glass or microscope to see?

Spoiler alert: the answer to that last question is no.

When Scott’s grandmother passed away, I inherited several craft items, including a collection of very small crochet hooks. Some of them needle sized.  I hadn’t ever used them for anything, so I thought I’d try them out. I used the largest of them and all six strands of embroidery floss, so I’ll start out by saying I could easily go smaller.

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IMG_0165And this is what a granny square should look like.

That’s it for the time being. I’m going to try to get caught up before I leave for the cruise and then bring some supplies with me there so I don’t miss an entire week. ETA: Oh! I do have more! I just don’t have photos yet. Next time. :)

01/31/2013 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Cary Creative Center

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I like to save things.  I don’t always know what I’m going to do with them, but I often think, “Something cool can be done with this!”  Sometimes it works out, like the stitch markers I made for the first day of the 365 challenge. (I am still doing that, btw. I’m more behind on documentation than I am on actually doing crafty things, though I am a bit behind on both. Turns out getting  a new job, going out of town, getting sick, and planning a wedding can take up some time.)  I also just hate waste. If I think it can be useful, I want to hold onto it, so it doesn’t just get thrown out to languish in a landfill.

The non-profit Cary Creative Center is based on just this. They don’t like things to be wasted either.  So, like the Scrap Exchange in Durham (which I still really need to visit), they take donations of random items, most of them crafty related and sell them.  They also offer classes, similarly focused on reusing items.  And they sell locally made items like jewelry and notebooks.

I had a good time just walking around looking at things.  I need to donate some of my excess crafty goods, but that didn’t stop me from bringing home a bag. I got a roll of aida (cross stitch) cloth, a few dog stickers, a button, a packet of snaps, a vintage embroidery stitch book, and a half made embroidery project.  All for $3.50.

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I don’t know that I’m skilled enough to finish this just yet, but it was too pretty not to take.  Plus I wanted the metal embroidery hoop. :)

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I spent some time talking to the people there, and will be going back tomorrow to talk to them some more about volunteering.  I need to get out and do more things, and this place would be a constant source of crafty inspiration, and what creative person doesn’t need that?

01/30/2013 at 4:17 pm 1 comment

You win some, you lose some.

The Make Something 365 challenge continues.  The past few days have pretty much been losers, so I’ll go through them quickly

Prompt #6 (my 5th) January 5th: Look in the kitchen and work with the first fruit or vegetable you spot. It could be in the form of juice, jam, or even canned.

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I had no idea what to do, so here’s an apple with a mustache and top hat.

Prompt #7 (My 6th),  January 6th:  Today, make a stencil and use it in your work.

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I had no idea what to do, plus I had my first day of work, so I didn’t have a ton of time. I made a stencil out of cardstock and colored it in with color pencils.  I had some cool ideas with paint, but as I’ve said previously, I don’t really paint, so I don’t have any. It’s really just some boring experimentation all by itself, but it could probably be used for something cool.

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It’s at least an interesting exercise in visual perception, since there isn’t a circle there, but I bet you think you see one.

Prompt #8 (My 7th), January 7th: Transform an old book into something new by cutting, folding, gluing, and so on.

I’d seen this pin on Pinterest about making a hollow book. (OMG, I just thought of an awful pun given the book I selected…Figure it out yourself; I’m not going to be that lame).  I remember seeing a tutorial for it when I was a kid, and I always thought it looked pretty cool, so I decided to give it a shot.  I decided to use the last Harry Potter book, as it was the thickest hardcover I had lying around that I was willing to cut open.

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This is a multi-day project, and one day of working on it killed my hands, so this is on hold for the moment, but I do intend to finish it.

I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter, alternating between an xacto knife and two different box cutters.  Two cautions for anyone who wants to try this: I recommend letting the glue dry for longer than she suggests.  I had to pretty much manhandle the book to hold it still for cutting, and some of the pages crinkled up, forming this little bubble that basically hardened that way. I’m going to try to glue it back in place, but I’m not sure of I’ll be able to fix it.  Also, try not to hold onto the front cover as a brace, because I think it’s entirely possible that I will pull mine off.

I’ve also determined that there’s no way to cut a book neatly.  No possible way.  Not one this thick anyway.  Once you get more than a half inch or so down, a ruler just isn’t going to cut it (no pun intended that time) as a straight edge, because the blade isn’t long enough. I’ll update this one when it’s finished.

I postponed prompt#9 because it involved breakfast, and I had already eaten mine when I read it. I did do it today though, and it will be in my next update

Prompt #10 (my 8th), January 8th: Use only water as your medium/inspiration today.

I wasn’t sure what to do here either.  When I’d been messing with the stencil from Prompt #7 and thinking about paint, I remembered that I had watercolor pencils.  I decided to color in the stencil with the pencils and see if I could get the paint to drip.  Obviously, it isn’t using water as my “only” medium, but for me it was more the focus than the pencil segments.

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The problem I experienced here was that the water would pool in certain areas of the page and would seemingly curve around some colors.  For instance, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the blue in the top right to bleed.  After failing holding it vertically, I angled it to the side some and tried again, but that didn’t work either.  So at that point I gave up.

I’m not particularly happy with any of these (except maybe my little apple man) but I’m glad I’m experimenting with different things.  Even if it does mean that my previously clean craft room is now an explosion of random supplies.

01/09/2013 at 12:33 pm 1 comment

Make Something 365 Entry #4

Slightly off-topic, but every time I visit my WordPress dashboard, it always makes me laugh that they invite me to become “master of [my] own domain” (i.e. own visuallyilliterate.com).

I decided to skip today’s actual prompt, because it involved taking a walk outside.  Though it did eventually warm up to almost 50 today, after the 10 minutes I spent scraping off my car at 6:30 this morning I rejected any further outside activity that didn’t involve dog walking.

Prompt #5 (my 4th), January 4thWhat do you collect? Work with a collection of objects you have in your home (or borrow a friend’s if you like).

I’m not a big collector.  I have a collection of stuffed cows, but they’re at my parents’ house.  I figured yarn and embroidery floss didn’t count, but for some reason, my tin of buttons came to mind.  I did buy a bunch of buttons just to buy a bunch of buttons, plus I’ve gotten a bunch from my mom’s plethora of sewing supplies.

IMG_0053I don’t have as many as my mom does, but it’s not that far off.

I focused on one particular variety pack I’d purchased at Jo-Ann, mostly just because I liked the colors, and I knew they all went well together. I decided to affix them to one of several mini-canvasses I’d picked up on a whim of “I’d like to find something cool to do with this.”  I kind of wanted to paint it, so there would be a more interesting background, but I didn’t for several reasons.  First, as a rule, I don’t paint, so all I really had was watercolor.  I knew that I would have wanted a thick, bold coating, which watercolor was not going to do.  Also, it would have limited the button colors that I could have used.  I likely would have wanted to paint it green, which means no green buttons, of which there were several in this pack.

I arranged the buttons the way I liked and glued them in place on the canvas.  I didn’t actually have to glue them, because I was planning on sewing them on with embroidery floss, but I thought that if they were already in place, it would make the sewing process a lot easier.  I chose thread colors to match the buttons and color coordinated appropriately.

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There is a pink button in between two orange ones, but the light is making it look orange too.

I know I’m not making great works of art here, but I think it looks pretty cool, and I’m happy that it’s getting me doing something different with my downtime.

 

01/04/2013 at 6:19 pm 1 comment

First Steps

As promised, here are my first three days of the Make Something 365 challenge.  I don’t have a particular theme, like a skull a day, or a bookmark a day (though I I think someday I’d like to do a green-only [the color] challenge) so I’m just reading the prompts and doing whatever strikes me.

Prompt #1, January 1st: The first step is the hardest, so start small today and make something that fits in the palm of your hand using only the materials in your immediate environment.

I took “immediate environment” to mean my craft room.  Granted,  my craft room is more rich than most environments in terms of the amount of craft supplies contained within.  I don’t know what could be less immediate than in the same room though.  Only things at my desk? I could twist together a paper clip monster, maybe.

I tried to think of things that are small, and came up with stitch markers.  They’re used in knitting (and crochet, but those have to be slightly different) to mark certain areas in a project, e.g. the start of a round when you’re making a hat, separating the back from the front of a sweater, designating the boundaries of a lace panel, etc.  They’re useful, and small, and I continually misplace them.  Not being a jeweler or beader, I don’t happen to have a lot of these kind of supplies in the house, but I did have a few things I could start out with:

1. An old broken necklace.  The chain broke and couldn’t be fixed.  It was pretty cheap; I think I got it from Payless.  I wore it all the time before it broke, and I loved the colors, so I held onto it.  I figured I could do something with the beads.

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2. Stitch markers.  These were given to me by a person on Ravelry and, while I definitely appreciate them, the rocks are a little too big for the stitch markers to be practical.  They’re wide and heavy, and they get in the way.  I figured I could take the rocks off, and attach the necklace beads to the rings.

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I started by removing the beads from the necklace, and removing the rocks from the stitch marker rings.

I had four rings, so I rearranged the beads into four different groupings.  I didn’t use all the beads. It would have been too many, and the large wooden beads were just as large as the rocks on the original markers. (And I always thought the red beads looked like half eaten cough drops, which isn’t all that attractive.)

Then I ran into the issue of “How the hell am I going to attach these things?”  I remembered some stretchy bead cord I had bought when I needed to fix a necklace and pulled that out.

I cut a length and looped it through the stitch marker ring, then added the beads.

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I wasn’t sure how I was going to secure the end. I was wishing I had more beading knowledge/supplies, when I turned over the package the cord was in and saw that they recommended the very technical method of knotting it a few times and putting glue on it.  That I could handle!  So I did just that, left it to try, and then trimmed off the excess cord.

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Voila! Bead stitch markers!  They aren’t expertly done, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the knots comes undone at some point, but they’re secure enough for the moment.

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All together, they took about an hour, not counting drying time.  The only real issue I had was that I needed to replace one of the beads from my original grouping because the hole was large enough that even the knotted cord could slip through it.

Prompt #2, January 2nd: What’s your favorite animal? Use it as your inspiration for today.

I don’t know if this is really my favorite animal, but I do like cows.  Since that’s what popped into my head, I decided to stick with that.

As I went about my business in the first part of the day, I tried thinking of something to do with cows, or cow print.  I came to the realization that after all the crochet/knit toys I’ve made, I’ve never made myself a cow.  I decided to remedy that and looked on Ravelry for a pattern.  I quickly found this one, and decided to go with that.

For the most part, I followed the pattern directions, with a few exceptions:

  1. I made it smaller
  2. I did not put one of those cow noise thingies inside of it (though I do have one, given to me by the other members of the Ultimate Trio of Death or Doom and it scares the crap out of my dog)
  3. Rather than crochet  one spot, I made three fabric cow print spots and sewed them on with embroidery thread
  4. I filled the legs mostly with rice so the cow would stand up properly
  5. I used stick on googly eyes, mostly because I don’t have any of the other kind

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I didn’t actually finish the cow in one day, although if I’d started earlier than 3:30 yesterday, I probably could have.

Prompt #3, January 3rd: Make something out of paper but don’t use scissors or glue or draw on it.  What now? (And no, you don’t need to know how to do origami to do this.)

I did kind of cheat, in that I ripped a piece of paper out of a sketchpad and cut the scraggly bits off.  I just didn’t have smaller pieces of paper. Besides, I used an x-acto knife. So there.

I went through several iterations of the same idea before I ended up with what I ended up with.  In fact, you can still see the remnants of my original idea, but I didn’t want to start all over again, so I left it there. Idea #1 was to embroider some kind of checkered pattern on it. It was going to be one color, but then I decided to do a few.  I started on that and didn’t like the way it came out at all.  So I came up with idea #2, to use the same colors randomly to draw a grid pattern.  I did one color that way and realized that I liked the way that looked all by itself, so I left it alone.  Done!

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The holes in that one square are leftover from idea #1 that I figured would be covered up by idea #2.  I think it would look better without the holes or, alternatively, adding some more holes throughout.

 

I’m enjoying this process so far, because it’s forcing me to think a little differently.  Even three days in, though, I’m realizing how daunting of a task this is. Every day?  What about when I drive 8 hours to Jersey? What if I’m sick? What about my wedding day? What about if I *gasp* get hired somewhere? I know the craft police aren’t going to come arrest me if I miss a day, but still.  I’m usually a little short on follow-through, and I want to actually do this one.

01/03/2013 at 5:04 pm 2 comments

New year’s resolutions and more

I don’t usually make new years resolutions. I’ve always thought it was an arbitrary time to take a look at oneself and one’s goals.  Plus I was always in school, so August seemed like a much better time.  But now that I’m an “adult” (albeit an unemployed one) an arbitrary time is as good as any.  On the non-crafty side of things, I need to eat less and move more.  I have a wedding dress to fit into, after all.  But on the crafty side, I just need to do more.

I spend a lot of time thinking about crafting, talking about crafting, and looking at crafty things both online and in stores, but I actually spend precious little time making anything.  Not sure why.  I could blame depression, or unemployment, but sometimes it can probably be chalked up to simple laziness; and a bit of fear.

Most of what I make comes from a pattern.  Someone wrote down what to do, and I did it, usually fairly well.  When it comes to making stuff up, I’m not so good.  I just don’t have that kind of mind.  Scott says the only way to get better is to just do it. Make stuff until I start making something good.  He’s probably right.

To that end I picked up this creativity journal. 365 days of prompts to make something every day.  I think I need a kick in the pants to get stuff done, so I’m totally going to do this, starting tomorrow, January 1st. The guy who wrote it did a skull a day for a year. (And somehow he ended up on the Martha Stewart show. She doesn’t seem like the skull type to me.) I don’t have a particular theme, or even a medium, but I’ll try to come up with something following the directions.  I feel like some of the projects may take more than a day, since my usual mediums are a tad bit time consuming, but I’ll be happy with an idea as long as I at least get it going.

I’m also going to write here more.  I always meant to, and was mad at myself for letting another blog fall by the wayside.  I’ve been mad at myself in general for letting unemployment and depression turn me into a lazy bum in general, but I will try very hard not to do that anymore.  I have several things working in my favor at the moment:

  1. The book of prompts for inspiration
  2. My craft room is actually clean and organized. I know what I have, and I know where to find it. (For the time being; We’ll see how long this lasts.)
  3. I got a new digital camera for Christmas!  This one’s supposed to be decent at close-up photos. No more crappy cell phone pics!
  4. Scott bought me a little desk easel for Christmas to make drawing a lot easier
  5. Still unemployed! So I still have lots of time to get stuff done, if I can get myself off my lazy butt to do so.

Here’s hoping I actually get stuff done for once! *crosses fingers*

12/31/2012 at 2:39 pm 1 comment

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