Thursday, December 20, 2007

Paper Gnome Chains

The other day at work I was admiring the cut paper designs on angry chicken’s blog and fell in love with this paper Christmas tree on the small object’s blog. I had been seeing a lot of paper cutting recently and decided that I needed to try it. I was in the office however with no exacto knife and not quite ready for such intricate things anyway. I started out slow with paper show flakes. These then progressed to paper doll chains, a somewhat failed attempt at a paper camel chain and my favorite, paper gnome chains. These are now covering our one tiny office window, that actually looks out into a hallway and not outside.

I liked the paper gnome chains so much I made more at home. Here is a garland strung over the mirror in the living room.

I think these are the last Christmas decorations I will be putting up. Christmas is in less than a week and we are leaving on Sunday to go back to Portland so it would be pretty silly to make anything else.

Speaking of paper cutting, I went to Giant Robot 2 on Sawtelle yesterday and saw the Jill Bliss and Saelle Oh collaboration, Hidden Habitats. I have always loved Jill Bliss’s work. She is one of the people in this new craft movement that I think has combined art and craft as well as business really really well. I had seen Saelee Oh’s work online before but in person the paper cutting stuff is just incredible. Anyway, it is a really cool exhibit that and it is running until January 9th. So if you live in LA you should definitely check it out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Still Life

The whole crafts on the internet thing still kind of amazes me. The idea that people from all over the world, that you would never have come into contact with without the Internet, can see your work and buy it just never stops being cool to me.

So recently I have actually had two different people contact me on etsy wanting to sell my stuff in their actual brick and mortar stores. The first was a girl who has a shop on Kauai who was interested in napkins and dishtowels. Sadly both of those are things I had been finding the raw materials for at big lots or similar stores and now can't find the kind of napkins or dish towels that I like anywhere. I need to get off my ass and find an Internet supplier or something but I've just been lazy.

The second was Kelly Malone. She is one of the founders of
Mission Indie Mart which is a monthly craft fair featuring cheep beer, food and music held at 12 Galaxies in San Fransisco's Mission District. She just opened her own shop called Still Life which features hand selected vintage, local designers and the best of etsy. It is located at 835 Divisadero in San Francisco. Here are a couple links to info about the shop:

I am consigning stuff there so hopefully it sells. I just sent her a few t-shirts and an apron to test it out. Depending on how those things do I might send more later. Here is the pile of stuff I sent her. Soon you will be able to see these things hanging in an actual store!

Oh, and I decided that if my stuff was going to be sold at a store I needed some kind of tag to identify it as mine. I would love to get some kind of fabric tags made up at some point but this is what I came up with as a last minute solution. I cut my business cards in half so they were just the kraken logo and attached them to the shirts with a ribbon and safety pin. I wrote the size and name of the shirt on the back. They actually turned out fairly professional looking. I may have to start doing that with all my things I sell on etsy.

Lastly I wanted to show the cute little deer I got at the Hermosa Beach Antique Mall. For some reason I got it into my head that I needed little ceramic forest creatures to go under the mini Christmas tree. I was picturing these ceramic deer that I swear I have seen many times at that antique mall when it isn't December. Someone must have come in and bought them all up because there were no ceramic deer to be found. Actually there were some really cute ceramic deer salt and pepper shakers but they cost $49!!! I settled on these much more affordable plastic ones. I also made another mushroom pincushion. My little Christmas area on the counter is getting a little cheerier.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Succulent Wreath (update on holiday crafts)

I finally finished my succulent wreath. It took way more cuttings than I imagined. I really like the way it turned out though. I had it hung up on the door but some pieces were falling out if the door slammed too hard so I took it down to give it a little more time to root.

Here is the finished version. Hopefully the cuttings will take ok so it will keep looking this good or better in the future.

Here it is in progress. I filled it in as much as I could with cuttings from my own yard. Then I wandered the neighborhood discretely picking pieces off my neighbors plants. Don't worry, most of them were from communal areas or plants that were huge and overgrown. I did find some really nice plants along the Strand in front of a brand new giant multi-million dollar house that they had just put in the landscaping for. I'm sure the owners will never notice a few missing pieces of their plants.

I also figured out where I saw the tutorial for making wool felt puffballs. It was from bitter betty blogs. They are super quick and easy to make and I had a ton of wool felt sitting around that I hadn't done anything with for a long time.

I made this garland with the giant pile of puffballs that I had accumulated. Some how the colors of felt that I already had sitting around go really well together. It looks Christmassy but not too Christmassy and really brightens up my front window.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Crafts

For some reason I've been feeling the need to make tons of holiday decorations. I don't have much in the way of Christmas decorations or any Hanukkah decorations so even though I'll be back in Portland for Christmas I feel like making a bunch of stuff.

This is about the extent of it. My cheep artificial x-mas tree with mainly purchased ornaments and Nate's menorah. I started making these felt puffballs that I saw a tutorial for on someones blog (I can't for the life of me figure out which one). I'm going to try to make a garland if I have enough felt but these are now making the counter space with the tree and menorah look a little less sparse.

I also made Nate a stocking which I didn't take a picture of yet. It's ok, not my greatest work.

What I've gotten most excited about making though is this succulent wreath. I decided on Monday at work that I absolutely had to make one of these living wreaths. If it does ok I can have it on the door year round. I managed to find all the supplies in one shopping plaza (Michael's and OSH). It just required a wire wreath frame, floral wire, peat moss, potting soil, rooting hormone and lots and lots of cuttings from succulents on my patio.

I cut all the succulents the day before I started to make the wreath so they had some time to callous over. I packet the wreath first with a layer of wet peat moss, then soil then more peat moss and then wrapped the whole thing with floral wire so it stayed attached to the wreath. I poked holes with a screwdriver and stuck the cuttings, dipped in rooting hormone, into the wreath. I thought I would have enough cuttings to go all around the wreath but didn't quite make it. I took some more cuttings last night and will hopefully be able to finish it tonight. It is mostly jade and what I think is Graptoveria. Its filled in with some donkey's tail, some mother of millions starts and some other random things. I'll take a picture once it's all done. Hopefully the cuttings will root ok.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Favorite Extinct Animals Cards

I've been going crazy lately printing linoleum block Christmas cards. I feel like I've printed so many of these but I probably still need to print about 20 more. At some point I will post a picture of them but maybe, possibly, hopefully, some people who I will be sending Christmas cards to actually read my blog so I won't spoil them for those few people.

Anyway after I printed a few of these I decided to distract my self by carving a few different blocks to make printed cards. These are inspired by some of my favorite animals to have gone extinct in the last 500 years. All of these animals are featured in the book A Gap in Nature. Which is a really nice coffee table type book with beautiful illustrations of 103 vertebrates that have become extinct since 1492.

This is the Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis). It was a big flightless bird related to puffins and murres that was formerly native to the North Atlantic. It was last sited on July 3rd of 1844.

This one is Steller's Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas). It was a 3 ton manatee like animal that in prehistoric times lived along the North Pacific coast. It was first seen by Europeans when the Russian explorer Vitus Bering's ship was ship wreaked on the Commander Islands in 1741. The crew found the animals quite tasty and easy to catch and by 1768 it was extinct.

The final one is the Stephens Island Wren (Xenicus lyalli). It was a small flightless wren native to Stephens Island, a small uninhabited island off New Zealand's South Island. A lighthouse was built on the island in 1894 and the entire species was supposedly wiped out by the lighthouse keeper's cat named Tibbles in that same year.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Since pumpkins rot so fast after you carve them in Southern California I usually wait until just before Halloween before I carve them. This year Nate and I are going to be in Uruguay over Halloween but I didn't want that to stop me from carving a pumpkin. I decided I should carve it early so that I could throw it away before we left and not feel bad about waisting it.

I was trying to think of something interesting to carve. As to be expected I wanted it to be some kind of animal or plant. I was trying to think of round sea creatures but the only thing I could think of was a sea urchin test and I wasn't too sure that would be recognisable. I decided to instead play up the lantern part of the jack-o-lantern and carved a lantern fish (or angler fish). It is kind of like the scene in Finding Nemo. Just part of the fish is illuminated by it's lure and the little fish are transfixed by the light.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chickadee Purse and Matching Skirt

These two projects I think may be some of my favorite that I have ever made. Sewing is still really frustrating sometimes and I still pull out a lot of stitches because I sew things backwards or other dumb things but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. I can imagine something in my head and translate it to fabric pretty faithfully.

I had been looking at the bags on homegrown skinny's etsy page thinking about buying one when I decided that I should just try to make a similar bag myself. I think that is a problem with selling handcrafted stuff at either crafts shows or online. A lot of the people who look at your work and really like it are far more likely to get inspiration from it or outright copy it than to buy it. If I want people to buy things from my etsy shop I should really start patronizing other peoples more often.

Anyway, I had last Friday off work so I made this bag. I actually started the embroidery earlier but I finished the rest all that day.

The main fabric and the wool that the bird is embroidered on came from a church thrift store in Glendale. The trees are fabric I bought from superbuzzy a long time ago and for some reason hadn't used yet and the birds are of course from Marukai 98 cents. Oh, the hedgehogs are also from superbuzzy. I made the bias tape from canvas I got in the "as is" section at Ikea. It was the first time I made my own bias tape from something other than ribbon. It worked out pretty well.

So I also had Monday off because it was Columbus day. I had a pretty unexciting four day weekend. On Monday I made this skirt from corduroy I got at the same church thrift store and more of the superbuzzy tree fabric. I absolutely love how it turned out. It seems very fally to me. Actually perfect for fall in LA that isn't actually much cooler than the summer.

Sorry the pictures aren't better. I tried to take pictures of myself with the timer because I don't think Nate will come home from work before dark ever and I didn't want to wait until the weekend.

This was my first attempt at doing French seams. I wanted to avoid all the strings that come with raw edges. It sort of worked. I didn't attempt it with the zipper. I didn't want to do anything that might hinder the zipper's ability to zip. I keep using these cheep Marukai 98 cent store zippers that keep breaking and pissing me off. That is one thing that that store isn't so good for.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Repotting Cacti

I've been replanting lots of my cacti and succulents in cute super cheep pots that I got from the Marukai 98cent store. I swear 90% or maybe 98% or the non food purchases I make come from that store. They all cost about $1.50. Compared to nice glazed pots anywhere else that is really cheep.

This one is a cactus I bought at the California Cactus Center. I couldn't remember what it's called but Kristin our botanist at work just looked it up. It is a pink lace cactus (Echinocereus sp.). I love the pink spines that are arranged kind of like eye lashes.

Here are some litops that I got at a cactus and succulent show in Golden Gate Park when Nate and I went to San Francisco.

These were cheep cacti that Nate bought at Ikea a long time ago and had in his room in his old house and never repotted. For some reason they weren't planted in soil. Instead the pots were filled with this weird hard white stuff. I don't know how the plant's survived it that. The roots couldn't grow out into it.

Here they are all replanted in one of the Marukai pots. Don't they look so much more happy.

These are some of my old cacti from Ikea. The other weekend when it was pouring down rain I decided that Nate and I needed to go to the beach in Palos Verdes to get cool flat rocks for my plant pots. By the time we got there it had stopped raining and was gorgeous out. I probably shouldn't have made Nate hike up and down a really steep hill since it was Yom Kippur and Nate was fasting and couldn't drink any water. He was fine though.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quilt Blocks

A couple of days ago I finally bought myself a rotary fabric cutter. I had been cutting things so crookedly with my scissors for so long that I decided it was time to get a rotary cutter. When I bought it at the fabric store the girl at the counter asked me if I was making a quilt. I said, no, I'm just going to be making random patchwork things. She said that I should because it's really addictive. Making a quilt just seems like it would take way too long and that I would get bored with it long before I got anywheres near to making something that could cover a bed.

When I got home I took out my bag of little fabric scraps and started finding patterns that went well together. Amazingly I had all these fabrics that went so well together. It didn't take terribly long to piece together this little square. I was so proud of myself and really wanted to make another one for some reason.

I made this blue one the next day. It doesn't go with the red and green one at all but I have way more blue fabric scraps than red/green/yellow ones.

Then I made this other mushroomy red/green one. It really is strangely addictive. I have no idea what I'm going to do with these. I know that however fun it has been to make a couple of squares there is no way I can continue to be entertained by making more than 70 of them. I'll probably make 6 of them and make a pillow cover or something. I need to find other good uses for quilt squares. A lot of people make really cute doll quilts that are of a manageable size but I don't see any use for that. Anyway. This may be the beginning of a fun new project.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ikea Animal Print

A couple of weeks ago my car decided to overheat on the freeway on the way home from work. While I was waiting for it to get checked out at Pep Boys I walked across the street to entertain myself at Ikea. Ikea has some pretty cool fabrics. I've looked at them a bunch of times but never bought any there partially because there is never a person manning the cutting table and partially because they are mostly decorating fabrics that are pretty expensive. That day they had all these children's fabrics that they were selling whole bolts of for only $6. Well there were smaller than a normal bolt but it was still a really good deal.

I got this fabric because it was very colorful and cute and had lots of different animals on it. I'm a sucker for animal prints. Of course when I brought it home Nate immediately said that he didn't like it because it was too kiddie and that I should definitely not make a dress out of it. I agreed that it might be a little overwhelming for a dress so I made this skirt instead.

I'm not sure where I will wear it but I like it a lot. I posted it on craftster a couple of days ago and I think I got the most responses I've ever gotten for a post. I even made it into the hot new topics.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finished Fish Print

It sort of worked to watercolor over the fish print even though it was water based block printing ink and not oil based. I tried to paint in between the lines and didn't use too much water which kind of prevented the black from smearing. If I print more of these I will definitely buy some oil based ink first. I started painting another one of these with just two colors of fish but I think I like this one better.

I was also thinking that I might attempt to carve two additional blocks, one for the fishes and one for the background and block print them instead of filling in the fish with water colors. It would end up looking kind of like my tidepool print that I screen printed in my screen printing class I took at Angel's Gate last year. Actually I could do a reduction where I printed a solid background in a light color first and then carve out all the negative space and print the fish in a darker color and then use this block to print the details of the fish in black.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fish Print

I feel like I've been working on this project forever. I guess it was just since last week but I'm still not done yet. I wanted to show pictures of the process though, I think it's kind of interesting.

It is a relief print of a menagerie of fish that I'm going to print in black and then color in with watercolors.

I started with this drawing. I think I found pictures of all these fish in my Coastal Fishes of California field guide but I drew them all freehand. At some point I'll make a diagram with the names of all the fish on it but right now I really can't remember what most of the fish are.

Then I transferred the fish onto a piece of linoleum with carbon paper and carved them out. This is what took a really really long time. I've been sitting in front of the TV after work every evening working on this and making a complete mess of my living room. It is best not to be watching anything you are really interested in because it's pretty dangerous. I ended up stabbing myself in the tip of my finger pretty bad when Nate and I were catching up on last season's Heroes. It's pretty much healed now but I'll probably have a scar on my finger for a while.

This is a picture of it all carved out and inked and ready to be printed. At some point, I think before I moved, I had bought oil based black relief printing ink for the purpose of doing projects like this where the outlines are in black and the images are filled in with watercolors. Using oil based ink makes sure that there is no chance that the black image will get smugged when I use the watercolors on top. Of course yesterday searched all over my house and couldn't find that ink so I just printed it with water based ink. It probably won't turn out but I can always print more with the correct ink later.

I printed the fish on watercolor paper which wasn't quite as big as it should have been. I think if I go buy more ink at the art supply store I'll get some nice big sheets of printmaking paper too. I used my barren which is this big round circle with a handle that you press the paper onto the linoleum block with. This takes a lot of arm strength so my right arm is kind of sore today. I kept pressing until I could see the image of the fish embossed in the back of the paper.

One problem with using the barren instead of a printing press is that while pressing the paper down sometimes it shifts and you get a double image like this one. It kind of makes me dizzy.

This is one of the better prints. I think it turned out pretty well. Maybe tonight I'll attempt to do the watercolors. I'll probably test it out on one of the not so good copies and I'll post pictures if it turns out ok.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fish Scale Dress

I made another dress. It's kind of amazing how not all that terribly difficult it is getting now. Again I didn't use a pattern. Just kind of winged it. Mainly using the same design as the last dress but with a few adjustments. Nate doesn't like it. He claims he doesn't like the colors, that it reminds him of Belle from Beauty and the Beast (which doesn't make sense at all, I swear her dress was yellow) but I think it's really because it's not as tight as the blowfish dress was. It is way more comfortable though.

I'm really bad at modeling the clothes that I make so sorry about the boring poses.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Blowfish Dress

Here is my finally completed blowfish dress. It is the first dress that I have sewn and finished into completely wearable form. I didn't use a pattern at all because I'm still scared of and confused by patterns. The skirt is made from the same muslin as the tote bag in my previous post but printed with blowfish and grunions instead of just blowfish. The top is part is made from Japanese star patterned fabric pieces from the Marukai 98 cent store and the waist band is just blue broadcloth.

Since I didn't use a pattern I had a hard time getting it to fit properly. It is still a little tight in the chest. I might still adjust it a little bit to make it looser.

The hardest part was sewing the zipper in with out having it show too much. I had a different zipper at first that was kind of light blue but it showed really badly. When I tried to get it not to show I somehow got it stuck and ended up breaking the zipper trying to get it up. It took forever to rip out the old zipper but I managed to get this dark blue one in without it showing too much. Still not perfect, especially at the bottom, but much better.