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Halloweek kickoff (or Jack O’ Lan”tee”)

I must confess that I am a little bit behind the 8 ball this year in getting ready for Halloween…

Here it is the week before the big day, and I don’t even really have my decorations out. Also, I really have no idea how I am going to slap a costume together in time for the big Halloween party this weekend!

So, in honor of all of us who life just seems to sneak up on sometimes, I present to you: “Halloweek.” This week, I will attempt to post a collection of Whoomp There it is, all victory, no-waiting, quick crafts for the time-deficient Halloween lover.

Today we will start with my slap-dash Jack-O-Lantern t-shirt. You can use this shirt as a costume on short notice (my boyfriend and I did that last year), or just as an excuse to be crafty and say “hey I’m festive” in a semi non-committal way. Even if you just want to hand out candy in this bad-boy, the lucky people visiting your door will be thrilled to see the smile on your face…and on your tummy.

 

You will need:

  • Orange or orangish t-shirt (wash it first to remove sizing if this is a brand-new shirt; it will help the tape stick better)
  • black duct tape (or regular duct tape and a black Sharpie if you’re really low on time); I used black Duck Brand duct tape from my local Michael’s
  • Scissors
  • waxed paper (this makes your life SO much easier, trust me)
  • optional*: white washable fabric marker (or one of those left over, thin,  almost useless bars of soap from the shower) to mark where you want your jack o’lantern face on your t-shirt

 

  1. Try on your shirt and see about where you want the face to be. Ladies, please pay special attention to this step. I strongly suggest that you don’t put the eyes on the t-shirt without testing first….unless you are going for a very attention-grabbing look. If you are, then throw caution to the wind :-) If you like, use the white fabric marker or the side of the bar of soap to mark the locations of where you would like the eyes and mouth to be. Then remove the t-shirt and lay it flat.
  2. Next, unroll lengths of your duct tape. If you are making black duct tape from regular with a Sharpie, now’s the time to color it in. (Note: Please factor in some time for the marker to dry before doing any of the next steps. I cannot guarantee that the marker won’t rub off later anyway, but patience is your best bet here).
  3. Place the sticky side of the duct tape down on the waxed paper. Smooth out the tape as best you can to make it flat to the paper; This should prevent the tape from sticking to your scissors while you cut, making it easier to cut the tape precisely the way you want it. TIP**:It may make it a little easier if you let the tape overhang the wax paper slightly at this point. It will make it easier to peel the wax paper off later.
  4. Now, freehand cut some triangle shapes from the duct tape with your scissors to make your jack o’lantern’s eyes. It’s best to start off bigger than you think you need and then reduce the size later. Also, if you want your eyes to be the same size/shape, cut one eye out first, and then use this cut out as a template to cut out the other eye. Trim as needed.
  5. Next, make the jack o’lantern’s mouth. Please notice above that I overlapped two strips of duct tape to give the mouth more “height”. Place these overlapping strips sticky-side-down on the waxed paper as well. And now for the big tip!!!  TIP**: To make a symmetrical mouth, fold the black tape in half so that the wax paper sides are touching. Freehand cut some teeth from the outside of the strip of tape in towards the center fold. Stop when you have cut almost to the fold line. Then cut a “half tooth” shape directly at the fold line. This should give you symmetrical teeth with one big tooth in the center of the mouth.
  6. Now, before you remove the waxed paper backing from the cut tape pieces, place your eyes and mouth on the t-shirt to confirm that they’re the right size,  and to finalize where you want them. Please make sure the t-shirt is stretched out flat and that it’s not too wrinkly when you do this. I wouldn’t use the picture of my t-shirt above as an example of “not too wrinkly” though, for this is not the case….
  7. If you like where the facial features have been placed, now comes the tricky part. Try to remove the waxed paper from the tape pieces. It’s easier if you try to free the paper at one of the points or corners. Using the scissors, a pin, or your fingernails also helps.
  8. Once you have done this, smooth the eyes and mouth onto the t-shirt where you want them.
  9. Voilá! Your Jack o’t-shirt is ready for wear.

Happy Crafting, and Happy Halloween!

 

 

Boo.


Happy Rocktober everyone! I hope you’ve been having a nice lead-up to the year’s most spooktacular holiday!

I love this time of year, and I adore almost everything to do with Halloween, so I wanted to share this project with you. I’ve been taking a design course, and the above was one of our recent assignments.

We were asked to create a pictorial image using black and white construction paper, and tracings of any shape that we could produce with our hands. We could change the size of the shapes as we liked, and use as many cut-outs as we liked. And with my particular love of this otherworldly holiday, I could not pass up the opportunity to get my scare on :-)   I do apologize for the poor photography though. I am more of an opportunist than a planner when it comes to taking pictures sometimes…

But anyway, I got to thinking that this would be a really cool craft to do with kids. We all remember those traced hand turkeys we made in school for Thanksgiving, but this sort of project could be an interesting challenge for any holiday during the year. If a child can hold some kind of drawing implement, and if there is some construction paper/computer paper/old magazines/glue/scissors lying around the house, then you’ve got all you need for a festive and seasonal activity. Smaller kids might need a bit of assistance with cutting or gluing, but older children should have no problem doing this independently.

Kids can experiment with trying to trace as many different shapes with their hands as they can think of. And of course they can add a bit of color if they want to. Orange I am sure would be a particular favorite.  And plus, once kids have finished their projects, these little pieces of art can join the other Halloween decorations around the house. And kids will be so proud to show off their handiwork in their bedroom window, or in some other prominent location. It’s a win-win. The kids will have something fun and inspiring to do, maybe even sharing some social time with their friends or siblings, and parents might even get a little quiet time while the kids are actively occupied in their pursuits.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this project, and that you get to spend some good quality time with your little goblins this month.

Happy Halloween!

Sickness? Perhaps…

At a certain point, you have to step back and look at a situation with objective eyes…

Take, for example, my ever-increasing yarn collection. Because, see, if I wasn’t me, I’d think that this was insane.

It just never quite seemed to occur to me as I acquired a skein here and a skein there, that I would end up with vastly more yarn than finished projects. You may note that those 3 large balls of gray yarn a little ways down on the left, should be a sweater with owls on it by now…

But I know I cannot be alone in this drive to acquire enough craft supplies to keep me stitching/beading/knitting, etc in the unfortunate event of a worldwide apocalypse. And…it just seemed to make so sense to buy the stuff when it was at a good price….

Really though, I have to institute a moratorium on 1) Attaining any new craft hobbies, and 2) Buying any further supplies for crafts that I already do – at least without using the ones I bought earlier.

So hopefully, this resolve will translate into lots of yarn craft posts over the winter months.

Anyone else want to weigh in on their craft hoarding and make a craft pact with me for winter 2011?

As much fun as a three-legged pig

I found a new adorable thing to obsess over today.

Some of you may be familiar with the Chilean good luck pig called a “Chanchito.” They are handmade pottery, and they are supposed to bring good fortune to their owners. This is especially true when the little guys are given to family and friends as a sign of affection.  They generally have some pretty endearing lopsided smiles, and did I mention that they only have 3 legs? But who’s counting really…

I just had to try to make one of these cute little dudes from polymer clay, and above is the result. Hector. :-)

If you guys would like to make a new friend for yourself or a loved one, please click the link below. And if you’d like to purchase a real good luck Chanchito straight from Chile, thehungersite.com offers them. They’re fairly traded, they’re only $5, and your purchase funds 25 bowls of food for the hungry. What’s better than that?

Good luck to you and yours everyone, and have a wonderful weekend!

Continue reading ‘As much fun as a three-legged pig’

The sincerest form of flattery…

I most definitely get my jewelry-hound tendencies from my mother. Both of us can spot a way cool pair of earrings or an awesome necklace at 300 paces – and with peripheral vision….

We also tend to notice immediately if someone on the news or in our favorite tv shows is sporting some kind of fabulous ornamentation. In fact, I think we both have a pretty decent mental catalog of inspiring jewelry designs, and we’ll describe them to each other in detail, even weeks after we saw the original.

It’s this same insatiable curiosity for clever design that drives us to leaf hungrily through magazines and catalogs, drooling at the unique and unusual jewelry pieces therein. But, despite the ever-present attraction towards bejeweled, enameled, or faceted objects, we know we can’t have everything we like. And personally, I’m more than ok with a knock-off now and again…

In fact, if you’d like to hear about what I used to make the above necklace, which was inspired by a pendant that I saw in a Chico’s catalog, please click the link.

Thanks all and have a good week!

Continue reading ‘The sincerest form of flattery…’

You…light up my life….

I’ve really started to love lamps in the past few years. They can add such personality to a room, and a whole lot of “homey-ness.”  That’s why I was so excited to see lots of lamp and light fixture projects in Mark Montano’s Big-Ass Book of Crafts. It was a major selling point for me in fact.

I made this lamp, with a few alterations, from Mark Montano’s clothespin lamp project in the above book. Pretty much all you need is a simple printout of an image that you like (goooo internet!), a couple of dollar store frames, a night light, and an extension cord (if it’s not a battery-operated night light). I also used some recycled posterboard (to make the sides of the lamp), white acrylic paint, and glue (Weldbond brand is awesome). Mr. Montano used clothespins to make the sides of his box lamp, which gives a kitschy pretty look, but I didn’t have any around, and I do love to use what I’ve already got around the house. If you want to see this project in in its original incarnation, please go find the book in your local craft store (or it’s less than $14 on Amazon right now!), or see Mark Montano’s blog post about the project here.

The hardest part about this project is getting the 2 wooden frames (the front and the back of the lamp), to stay the proper distance away from each other while you are gluing on the sides of the lamp. In my case, I was trying to glue thin recycled posterboard to the sides of the wooden frames, and it was tough going a few times. My best advice if you don’t have a 2nd pair of hands to help you, is to use books or stable heavy objects to prop the frames against while you glue. You can also use random found objects to place between the two frames to keep them from leaning in on each other too much. Heavy objects can also be stacked on top of the frames once the adhesive is in place to help keep the glued pieces from moving while they are drying. That way there should be less warping/migration as the glue cures.

The other difficult part of this project is cutting out a shape in the back of your frame to stick the night light into. Mark solved this problem on his blog by using some recycled cardboard to make the back of the frame. Even corrugated cardboard is easier to cut with a craft knife than the dense chipboard backing that comes with many frames. I did a pretty decent hack-job on the back of my frame trying to get the light in there at first. But, please remember, this is an extremely economical project, and, if the back of the frame isn’t so perfect, who cares? You’re doing this for the fun of it right?

Anyway, final tip: to get kind of a whitewashed “beachy” look on this lamp, I used a slightly dried-out thick white acrylic paint to coat the wooden frames and cardboard sides of the lamp. I brushed through it a few times with a rough bristly brush before it could fully dry to a smooth finish. The end :-)

Please let me know if you have any questions about this project, and go check out Mark Montano’s Big-Ass book! Trust me, your $14 would be extremely well-spent!

In Praise of Miho

I love the internet for many things. It is the starting point for many of my craft obsessions, my go-to for new recipes, the way I start to learn about interesting subjects (including how to make, do, or find just about anything), and even my reinforcement that no one is alone in the universe. I mean really, google something. Anything. No matter what you type, chances are someone else is into it, or wants to learn about it too. It might even be someone on the other side of the world, and you now have something in common with them.

And there are so many people willing to give of themselves, to share knowledge about their passions, for free, in this global forum. Their enthusiasm for a subject is so great, that they must gift it to the rest of us. Case in point: Miho Takeuchi. She has a lovely website, Studio Aika, in which she shares quite a bit of information about the wonderful Japanese art of sashiko. It is a tradition of embroidery that seems to have originated as a way to conserve cloth when clothing started to wear out, or to create insulation through the layering of fabrics, much as a quilted bed comforter does. In addition, sashiko is delicate and beautiful, even mesmerizing with its intricate patterns and geometric shapes.

Miho Takeuchi, the proprietor of Studio Aika, gives some very interesting background about sashiko, both as a domestic necessity, and as an art form. She also shares much of her own work on the website. What makes her website above and beyond though, to my opinion, is all of the extra information that  Miho gives about Japanese culture, particularly in relation to art, history, and daily living. The site also features a blog, and a shop tailored very specifically to high quality sashiko and quilting supplies. In many cases, as part of the product information, Miho gives tips as to what to look for when buying supplies for sashiko crafts. If you sign up to receive updates and special extra information (which I highly recommend you do), you will receive a free sashiko pattern to your email. And Miho will send newsletters periodically, offering pattern instructions, interesting articles about sashiko and Japanese culture, and even photos from her yearly trips to Japan.

Miho teaches sashiko workshops throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which you can also find out about on her website, under the “Sashiko classes and events” tab on the homepage. It appears that she keeps the class sizes small (usually 6-8 people) so that all of the attendees can learn as much as possible in a single session. Miho seems to be a born teacher, just given the way that she constructs her website, and the way that she words her email newsletters and informational articles. I only hope one day that I am lucky enough to attend one of her workshops.

Also, when I signed up for the newsletters back in February, I received a personalized email asking me – by name – if I received my free pattern correctly. The email also invited me to email Miho with any questions I might have in the future. I responded to Miho telling her that I really enjoyed her website, and I received a very kind email in return. It is quite obvious to me that Miho cares about the people who follow her site, and pays attention to their feedback. You can really tell when someone loves what they are doing in life, and that passion is very evident in Miho Takeuchi. Please visit her website, and please share any sashiko or Japanese craft experiences here.

Talk to you soon and happy crafting!


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