Caine’s Arcade

April 12, 2012 - One Response

This video has been making the internet rounds lately, so you may have already seen it, but I just had to glorify it here as well.  It is such an inspiring story about the creativity and imagination of one little guy, and the chance encounter of a filmmaker who stumbled upon him and recognized that this was a story worth sharing with the world.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

I have been a babysitter and nanny for at least 15 years now, and encouraging a child’s creativity has always been one of my main goals and excitements. It will certainly be an attitude I carry on into parenthood. I love to do arts and crafts projects with kids, and am continuously amazed at the things that they come up with. One little boy I took care of for years moved across the country, and would occasionally send me packages in the mail with letters and drawings. There is something so sweet and innocent about a child’s illustrations, I enjoy them so much and have even used a few in my artwork and book projects. I will probably be that parent with boxes full of kid drawings, clay hand prints, and carefully drawn popsicle stand signs that I just can’t bring myself to part with. Even better though, is the fact that programs like imovie have become so accessible and user friendly, that even the least experienced parent can find a way to preserve memories like this further than a few snapshots or saved crumbling momentos.

Finding and watching this video was the best 15 minutes I have spent in quite a while.

‘Like’ Caine’s Arcade on Facebook!
Visit cainesarcade.com to read more about this amazing story, and to donate to Caine’s college scholarship fund!

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Decorative Jewelry Organizer

April 10, 2012 - Leave a Response

Lately I have been looking at a lot of jewelry storage online, getting ideas for a new project. Not only do I have a TON of jewelry that is always getting tangled up together, but I also have a bad habit of taking off my necklaces and rings and leaving them in various places, only to wonder where they are later. I really like this concept because it turns your jewelry into a sort of framed “art” while hanging, so it’s beauty can be enjoyed even when it’s not being worn. In feeding my recent Pinterest obsession, (which has shown no signs of subsiding) here are some great examples I have found: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

I had some time off work recently, and on friday I got a little frustrated with myself because I feel like I have been wasting this time off, and haven’t been very productive in the wake of the rush to get inventory off to my aunt’s store opening. On Friday, I sat down to make a list of weekend project ideas, and then made a shopping list, and set off for Goodwill and Home Depot.

This project set me back about $25, mostly because of the hardware. I bought a few hooks that I didn’t end up using, so I haven’t included them here, but otherwise, here is a breakdown of the cost:
Frame: $6.99 (used)
Mesh screen: $10, for 3’x5′ roll
1/8th” ‘s’ hooks: $7.49/100 (this seemed highly overpriced to me 😦 … )
gold clip hooks: $3.99/100

here’s the before shot: jewelsplosion

I bought the frame at Goodwill – it appeared to be a fairly cheap, simple black frame. When I went to drill and staple into it however, we discovered it was actually made out of oak, which is a tougher wood to deal with. The issue with the frame is that you want it to be sturdy enough to be able to support the force of the mesh being stretched and stapled across it’s back, as well as the weight of the jewelry. It’s also important to consider how you will hang your frame, when deciding what style to use. I originally wanted to go with a decorative, beveled frame like this one, but I knew that I had a lot of jewelry to hang and I didn’t want to start off with such a heavy frame. I also wanted to keep it simple, so that the frame wouldn’t distract from the jewelry.

First, I gave the frame a few coats of a light blue spray paint.

Then, my dad helped me staple the screen to the back. This proved a little challenging… we couldn’t fit the screen on the inside of the frame, like where a picture and glass would nestle in. There just wasn’t enough space. So we fit it across the back, which left about a quarter inch of space all the way around.

We left a few inches around while we stapled, which allowed us to hold and stretch the screen, to make sure that it was evenly and taughtly attached. Next, we trimmed the screen down to size. This part was a little tedious, as the only way to trim the screen is to cut each individual bit with skinny trimmers. A word of advice, for anyone who attempts this project: These trimmed edges, no matter how carefully you cut, will still be able to scratch the hell out of you if you brush up against them. We could tell at this point that we would have to cover the back somehow, to prevent not only personal injury, but also to protect the wall.

(alternate post title: Dad Crafts 2012: Easter Edition)

Once trimmed down to size, my dad drilled holes along the bottom, so we could screw in some clip hooks, to hang rings.

Now that we were getting near finished, we assessed the inside gap between the frame and the screen. My dad ingeniously suggested I sew some little tubes of fabric, and glue them on the inside. The best part was that I didn’t have to worry about any seams showing, so it was a cinch to put together. I layered some cute flannel with strips of felt, and folded them into the gap with glue.

I had actually already decided to hang this display from the second towel rack in my bathroom, rather than worry about trying to find a nail strong enough to hold it on the wall. But just in case I decide in the future to hang it like an actual picture, and to protect from the deadly spikes of wire on the back, I glued strips of felt to the back of the frame. You can’t see this at all from the front, but it allows for a nice finished look on the back.

click to enlarge!

I originally intended to hang this from the towel rack with a large S hook, but the one’s I bought wouldn’t fit around the frame. Then I remembered that I had these clear plastic shower curtain holders, and they did the trick quite nicely. I added a third clip in the middle for reinforcement.

 Admittedly these little s hooks aren’t ideal – they look nice, and I prefer them to a hook that is attached more permanently to the board, but things must be removed fairly gingerly or else several pieces come falling off at once. These were the absolute smallest hooks I could find, and in fact they weren’t even hanging within the hook display at Home Depot – they were shoved underneath, and the package was taped, as if it had been kicked around for some time. It led me to believe they don’t typically make hooks this small or smaller anymore, and this was old product. If I do this kind of project again I will probably do some scouting for a better, cheaper hanger.

I really love how all my jewelry looks on here, and I think this will encourage me to vary my wear more, as I often get into the habit of wearing one piece repeatedly, when it is new and my favorite.

This… made me realize I have a TON of rings. This is not even all the rings I own! I do wish there was a way to display them so they are facing up, but I couldn’t think of any. Further development may be required….

Until next time!

Imagination Emporium

April 4, 2012 - 2 Responses

I am very excited to announce that my aunt Lisa has opened up her own retail store in Grafton, North Dakota called Imagination Emporium. The store will feature all sorts of beautiful home decor, decorating, and apparel items, some purchased and some handmade. Not only does my aunt have great taste, but she’s also got a really keen eye for displays and merchandising, and I have no doubt her store will do very well. My mom and I were invited to contribute to the stash inside, and we had a great time sewing and crafting together in preparation.  We were able to get three boxes mailed out by the end of last week! It felt GREAT, especially as I was able to send off some creations that have been sitting around my apartment for a while.  While it would be nice to have a few extra dollars coming in each month, I ultimately just want to show my support by helping the fill her shelves. Any earnings are just a great bonus! Also, now I can add to my creative resume that I have several wares for sale in an actual shop!

The first two photos here are ones I received via text showing the excitement of setting up the store.

And now, a photo dump of all the handicrafts I am sending:

adult sized slippers

This is a slipper pattern my grandma taught me, and it was the first project I learned after learning the basic stitches of knitting. She used to make these slippers for her own children, and then all the grand-children… I’d guess she’s made at least 20 pair just for our family. She can’t really knit anymore because it’s too hard on her hands – and these are knit in double strand, on size 8 needles, it’s tough on my own hands! In fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to brag that I actually have developed a knitting callous on my left pinky. Now that is what I called hardcore knitting!

baby slippers

I’s hard to see the proportions here, but these booties are only about 4″ long, while the adult slippers are about 10″. I adapted this pattern from the adult sized slippers. These are an excellent way to use up yarn that is leftover from other projects.

crochet flower headbands

The pattern for these flowers and leaves comes from this book, “100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet.” I believe I have posted about it before. This is an excellent book for creating realistic and detailed flowers for all types of embellishing on projects. The patterns range from beginner to advanced, and the instructions are detailed, including symbolic diagrams. The author, Lesley Stanfield, has created a similar book called “75 Birds, Butterflies, & Little Beasts to Knit and Crochet” that is equally cute and fun.

The flowers on these headbands are made from nice wool yarns that I bought at a garage sale this past summer. The seller had them in medium sized bundles for 25 cents each. I think she was a weaver, but she had no use for them anymore. The colors are just amazing together!

crochet flower pins

This is the same knitted flower pattern as above, but made with a thinner yarn (actually, the yarn I got from Goodwill in this post!) I made leaves for these too, and glued them onto hair clips. My mom was thinking that these flower headbands would be a hit for girls for Easter.

I cut little felt discs to glue on the back, to hide the hot glue and the clip.

Everything looks more legit when you put it in a plastic bag with a price tag on it!

covered button bobby pins

These next barrettes you may recognize from a holiday bazaar I did about a year and a half ago. I was really excited to be able to send these, because since the bazaar they have essentially been in storage. I thought about listing them at my Etsy store, but since there is such a large amount it would be very time consuming to take pictures of them all, and potentially expensive in listing fees, especially if they didn’t sell. I also think they really are best presented in person, and it’s more fun for a potential customer to look through them all together and choose their favorites. I’m very excited to see how these do in the store.

I tried to use all different, fun fabrics, and all sizes of buttons, so there’s bound to be a pattern and style to interest everyone!

bow bobbies

these are just some fun little bow pins I made from glittery ribbon I got at JoAnns.

I will update this blog with updates about the store’s success, so stay tuned! in the meantime, Click here to ‘like’ Imagination Emporium on facebook and show your support!

Refinished Vintage-Style Bookcase

March 27, 2012 - One Response

I bought this bookcase last summer at a garage sale for $8. I don’t know exactly how old it is, but it is at least modeled in the style of mid century furniture, with the short, angled feet and the cutout on the top shelf. And it was certainly beat up enough to show it had been kicked around for 50+ years. I asked my brother for some help, as he is a professional house painter, and lately has been moonlighting as a “furniture flipper” on the side. It was pretty dinged up, so rather than try to sand out all the imperfections and refinish it, he suggested a bright coat of paint. He said he’d help paint it, and that we should use spray paint to get a smooth finish and avoid the lines that brushes leave in paint. At first I was skeptical, because I’ve seen many a shoddy spray paint job on larger pieces of furniture, completely uneven and graffiti’d looking. But he assured me that spray paint can actually create quality results, and he has a pretty steady hand. I washed the bookcase and sanded down the dings as much as I could, and we went to pick out a color. I went back and forth on bright cherry red, mint green, or a medium shade of blue. Eventually I settled on Krylon’s Indoor/Outdoor satin paint in Oxford Blue.

I left it for him to work on when he had time, and about a week later he sent me a text message picture, showing his masterpiece work ! I thought it was really cute how he “staged” it in my parents house, with the doily and plant.

Here it is in my apartment – with a few touches of my boyfriend’s own decorating accents 🙂 It fits dvd’s perfectly! The spray paint really went on beautifully, and it has a nice sheen to it.

Perler Bead Headphones Embellishment

March 27, 2012 - Leave a Response

Here’s a cute, fun and easy project you may have seen floating around on Pinterest lately.

Simply slice through the length of each perler bead with a razor or craft knife. Make sure it is sharp, because you don’t want to cause indentation marks when you cut! I found that this utility Exacto worked really well for this project, because I was able to use the ‘tape split’ bit to hold my beads open, which allowed them to pop right onto the cord. As long as you don’t stretch them too much when you put them on the cord, they will mold back to their original shape and you can hardly see the sliced marks.

I did not follow a color pattern with mine, just put them on in random order. I also didn’t fill up the entire length of the cord, I left space so the beads can slide around. It kind of reminds me of a Fisher Price toy. This entire project took me less than 15 minutes to do – it’s so simple it almost seems stupid, but it reminds me of the kinds of toys and crafts I used to play with when I was a kid. And now my headphones match my colorful ipod case!

Tiny Terrariums

February 7, 2012 - 2 Responses

I have had this terrarium how-to on Handmadeology bookmarked for what seems like forever, and recently felt inspired while looking through the glass jars at Goodwill. I found the two larger ones for only a dollar each. Thrifting is the perfect way to look for terrarium cases because often you can find cool older glasses and jars, that may be faceted or in odd shapes. All you need is something with a lid – and if it comes with a rubber stopper attached to the lid to create a seal, as these two did, it is easy to remove with a small flat head screwdriver.

While the tutorial lists pea gravel OR sand as optimal water filters, I decided to use both because I really like the layered look. I got both the rose tinted pea gravel and the large granule sand at Lowes, where you can find all of the other necessary ingredients or any other home improvement store or garden center, like Home Depot. The moss is transplanted from my parents yard – I literally went out to their cement stairs with a fork and paper plate, and carefully peeled back chunks of moss. (Had to navigate around a few baby slugs D: ) It was especially ideal because the moss was already damp and ready to go. The deer figurine and chunk of amethyst I found recently at a part hobby, part antique store out at the beach. The other tiny agates and alligator and mice figures I had lying around my craft room.

Once I made the two larger glasses, I just wanted to keep going!  I found the smaller bottles amongst my supplies left over from a previous project. I actually really like the smaller bottles, I think they would be a perfect project for a younger crafter, or to give as a gift.

The beauty of this project is that it cost me under $12 for all the supplies, and each terrarium took me less than 15 minutes to complete. It’s pretty hard to mess up, too – the layers look even better when they are uneven terrain, and the moss can stack or squish up. They are super cute as decoration or tabletop focal points, and need minimal attention.

A few things to keep in mind:

– don’t fill your jar up too high, because you want to be able to look at it from the side to see the scene, rather than having to remove the lid and look down.

– it’s much easier to add than it is to take away – especially with narrow mouthed jars, it’s difficult to reach your hand inside to pick things out or rearrange. Once you start your layers, you can’t really tip the jar over to remove excess dirt or rocks, or else everything will mix. Add slowly, and use a chopstick or pencil to nudge things around and arrange as you go.

– less is definitely more here – I limited myself to two items per terrarium, apart from the natural elements.  You don’t want anything to appear squished, and with more space, the placement of charms becomes more deliberate.

– I have noticed it’s a little difficult to water them, especially the tall skinny jar, without dumping water all over everything. A small eye dropper or a turkey baster used sparingly will come in handy here.

Gem Faire 2011

November 25, 2011 - Leave a Response

My mom and I went to Gem Faire 2011 at the Portland Convention Center last saturday. I told myself walking in the doors that I would try to be conservative with my money, and would only splurge if I could visualize projects for what I wanted to buy. Instead, I went a little crazy…

Gem Faire is really great because you can see vendors from all over the U.S., and their goods are sold at wholesale price even though the event is open to the public. When researching about the event, I found on their website (www.gemfaire.com) that you can register for email updates and you will get a free weekend pass! Excellent, that’s seven more dollars you can spend on inventory!

(Unfortunately, my camera wasn’t charged up, so I could only take these small pics with my cell phone.)

I have always loved rocks and gemstones. I’m not even really sure why.. but to me they are so beautiful. I especially love the raw, chunky forms – many grow with facets that make them glitter, they are like olden days treasure to me! When I was a kid I used to collect rocks and agates, and bring them home to polish with a toothbrush, and lay out on a paper towel to dry in the sun. My grandma bought me a rock tumbler at a garage sale, and I distinctly remember the gritty, rumbling sound it made in the garage the whole month it was tumbling. The results were stunning! As a youngin’ I wasn’t quite sure what made the rocks so polished and shiny, it was almost like magic.

(Speaking of rock tumblers, I recently came across one and was thinking it would be really cool to make my own sea glass, by tumbling broken shards. To be continued…)

I’ve recently been inspired to make more gemstone jewelry, some pieces I already had in mind when I went to do my shopping. I’m especially drawn to light blue agates, turquoise, amethyst, and amber. Some of my ideas also included chunks of pyrite, and crystal cylinders.

I probably could have spent all day, but as my wallet got lighter so did my interest.

Here are some pictures of my loot.  I look forward to sharing my creations with these pieces!

(Click to see larger!)

many of these strands were only a dollar each. I couldn’t resist!  I especially love those on the far right, I call them “talons”, I think they will look really cool in individual necklace pendants. Those purple, pink and blue round beads perfectly match the colors in a dress I got recently.  And those skull beads on the far right, I am picturing a cool little drawstring suede bag or pouch, with some fringe, and beads.

These two I am going to take apart and make individual pieces with as well. The lightning bolt shapes are faux amber/resin, and the red and green talons are coral and (I think) either jade or moss agate.

fools gold! my hands got really dirty sifting through to find my favorite pieces, it wasn’t hard to imagine I was actually mining the pieces rather than picking them out of a tupperware bowl 😉

One of my favorite pieces, a chunk of amethyst wrapped with silver and made into a pendant. I love how dark the color is, it looks like rock candy! And a cute little beaded ring! The more I look at this ring the easier I think it would be to reproduce.

These were my two splurge items, blue lace agate chunks and the crystals. I figure each piece will go into it’s own necklace, so I will get a lot of product, and if I make any sales it will be worth my while. I also love these amethyst chunks! raw and yet so shiny, and beautiful.

Portland Zine Symposium 2011

August 13, 2011 - One Response

The 2011 Portland Zine Symposium was wildly successful! This was the first year in a new location, which was really great! We had a lot more light, and separate rooms for tables, so it felt more split up and not quite so overwhelming to walk into. As usual, every single table was overflowing with great new projects.

I sat next to this really great doorway arch of bamboo and paper cranes!

Here’s day one. I took a bit different approach to my table display this year, I borrowed some really great acrylic book holders from work that allowed me to stand up all my zines, and have a lot more table space than previous years. I decided to bring my typewriter for the display partially because of the extra space, but also because I talk about it in my two newest zines, so I thought it’d be a cool edition, and it goes along with my whole aesthetic.

You can see my two newest projects – on the second book display from the left, in the front pocket, with the typewriters image on the front, is my zine called How I Became A Connoisseur of STUFF. It is a zine about the fine, almost microscopic line, between collecting and hoarding. The other new zine is laying out in front of the typewriter. It’s called Carriage Return*, and it’s a zine of typewriter drawings I did. I’ll make another post soon with more info/details on these zines, and how you can get them!

Day two. Notice the blue paper note in place of HIBACoS… I sold out! I made a little note so that people could leave their email address, and I’d let them know when the second round of copying was finished and it was in my Etsy page. The zine was really popular, much to my surprise and glee! The Multnomah County Library bought 6, and it will soon be in circulation, joining my zine The Left Handed Knitter. So exciting!!!

Here’s Nichole’s side, my trusty tabling mate. I love how our things look together!

All in all it was a great weekend, I did some awesome trades, bought some intriguing zines, and bumped into some old friends. And this year, surprisingly enough, I actually made a little money. I’m never in it to make a buck, but it’s always a great surprise to come home with more than I left the house with. It’s also always a huge compliment that people consider my publications worth a few singles. I had one lady spent $16 at my table alone! She bought several things for a friend, and one or two zines she bought two of. A lot of times people will go right by my table, especially the guys, because my aesthetic is pretty specific and it just doesn’t appeal to everyone. That’s totally okay with me, we all have our tastes. And it usually means that the people who are interested in my stuff really love it, because the style appeals to them so much. I always come home feeling so inspired from the weekend, it’s really a fantastic feeling.  I’m already developing ideas for next year!

Here’s the view from my side of things.

Reusable Shopping Bag

August 13, 2011 - 2 Responses

I made this reusable shopping bag out of decorative canvas for my mom’s birthday. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out actually, considering that it was one of my first solo sewing projects, and I didn’t use a pattern.  I used a brown bag as a template, and cut out my pieces with a rotary cutter. Then I just sort of… figured out in what order to sew it in that would make it easiest to put together!

I folded the straps over a few times to make them nice and sturdy, and used a zig zag stitch to seal them in. I used the same plastic grommets as the shower curtain I made a few months ago, I love them! They are so easy to use and add a great dash of color and accent wherever you use them. I handsewed this little star to attach the straps them themselves through the grommets. While the grommets are a little spendy (10.99 a pack, but I always use a coupon) the cool thing is that if you buy them with the intention of making a bag, you get 8 per pack so each will yield two bags. If you use a half off coupon, it makes it worthwhile for two bags, especially if you are selling and expecting a small profit.

I’m also pretty proud of these pockets that I “made up.” I somehow managed to hide all the seams, partially with some more zig-zagging, but I also made a little tab for it to fit in under the top rim of the bag, which not only hid the pockets beginning but also acted to reinforce where the grommets went in. Genius! If I do say so myself 🙂

Repurposed Vintage and “Inspired” Findings

July 10, 2011 - Leave a Response

 A new interest lately has been creating adjustable rings using vintage clip-on earrings and other jewelry findings.  I always love the super gaudy, huge beaded and rhinestoned vintage clip on earrings, but not only do I have pierced ears, I also have really tiny lobes and those things tend to look gargantuan on me.  So I found another way to use them!  I’m much more of a cocktail ring type of girl myself, I think most of the time larger jewelry looks better on fingers than it does on ears.  I have more of the vintage earring rings I haven’t photographed yet, I’ll post them as soon as I do.

I also came into these really great disc brooches with beads and velvet, that had come apart from their backings. with a little imagination, I was able to turn them into some pretty fabulous cocktail rings! I really love these,  and it’s going to be hard to part with them, but I’ve just listed a few of them on etsy if you’d like to take a look at some more pictures.