8.25.2009

Slipcovering on a budget and a shop update:

Go me! The couch is officially finished! I made some puffy armrests out of some of the new pillow cases from the previous post and I added some pluff to the seats to help disguise the bare bones shape under the blanket. While it doesn't look like it's an actual couch, I don't really think you look at it and say "Hey! That's a camp couch!" and it's really comfortable, compact for the room which is already packing so much in, and is easy to fold up and tuck into a corner even with the slipcover on. I think it was a really good, inexpensive project that does the job I hoped it would, better than I expected.

Even though I was concerned about the idea of the woven cover getting pulls and loops in it, the other option I had was a fleecy kind of material that would grab onto everything that touched it and look really dirty. Pro vs. Con... The woven material also looks really good with the crocheted floor mat my cousin made and that helps it tie into the room better. I really need to do all I can to dress up the room since I live in a rented "All White Special", y'know? I think it's helped do that!
To support the stress points when you sit, I stitched with the yarn darning style and I littered it with all the stuffed animals and now I find it inviting and cute! I don't often get into the closet, so right now it's a good spot for it. And by the way, I don't spoil my baby by giving her a lot of toys. Those are all mine. She's only borrowing them. Let that be well-known right now!
While I'm on the topic of baby things- no, this isn't a baby themed blog per se, but since I have a daughter, I do things for her here and there. There are too many really good baby blogs that already do their job well.
 
Recently, she got interested in standing so I got her a second-hand play center. But OH MY GOD... those things are SO ugly!! There are some play centers that are a lot cuter and despite my desire to keep second hand things going and not buy new all of the time, this thing has to sit in my -house- for god knows how long... I was almost tempted to buy a new one but between the shipping costs to Hawaii and the fact that I'm going home for 5 months only two months from now, I didn't really see the point in making an investment. Whether that investment be for a new play center or spending a lot tricking my used one out, I just didn't think it would be worthy thing to spend a lot of time on... but still, I had to do SOMETHING. I thought I might like to use plastic spraypaint on the legs and stand where she wouldn't be touching but I'm not sure if the cost would be worth it for the small time she'll use it. The toys ... well, they're super stuck on there. I tried removing the globe so I could paint the inside of the ball and add some new cuter shapes than the sparse sprinkling of beads but it required a power tool, razor, wedges, and aching hands before I could even remove the external globe... not to mention the internal ball holding the beads inside! I know they try to make baby toys secure, but that's ridiculous. -I- could barely get into it... how would she??




In the end, I finally was able to paint the inside of the globe to make the continents green for a little visual contrast. I decided to replace the globe upside down. Globes are always drawn with the richest countries on top and I like the reminder to look at the world in a new way and point out that there are other places out there than just the US and Europe.

I looked at the 'book' with the pictures of the animals and thought about how I'd wanted to open them and put in pictures of distant family or replace a bell in one of the spinners that doesn't work well, but this thing is sealed like a high security prison. Forget that!

So... can't pull off the toys, don't want to pay to repaint the parts... That leaves the seat!


 The material is one of my receiving blankets that has all the different colors of the play center in it, but it's a much more muted pattern. I laid the seat out and traced around the flat side and then the bottom half of the side with darts and cut out the shapes with my serger to finish the edges.




I'm still learning how to make patterns, so I didn't know how to measure and cut out this piece. I pinned it in the legs and then met it on the sides with the piece I knew was right and then fit the darts in to make it smooth. The leftover here, that I'm motioning over, I ran through the serger to cut it off and finish it.



 
We're enjoying sitting on the floor today.

 
When it was all pinned and the darts found out and sewn, I turned it inside out and put it over the old cover and ran stitches around the holes. I didn't want to replace the fabric because I knew the factory sewn seat would have been made in such a way as to be very sturdy and safe so covering was the better option. I didn't add an underside cover because I wanted the safety warnings to be visible to whoever takes this seat after I am done with it. That meant it was a little trickier to get the leg holes smooth, but it's not too obvious and I felt it was important to not cover the under side.

 
The finished project leaves the grommets for attaching it to the seat ring uncovered. 

 
The seat is now a ring with toys around it rather than a giant eyesore color puke pile! Yay! Even though red, blue, and primary colors aren't what's going on in my family room or nursery, I'm really glad that this seat is at least mellowed out a little. I also think it'll be easier to resell it for what I had to buy it for used in the first place. I bet I'm not the only person who will be glad to have a play center with more muted colors on the unit. x....x

Now a shop update:
I've been working on new things for the shop and stockpiling for these next few months so I can reopen with a selection. Unfortunately, my last video file got corrupted and I lost all the footage of my sister and I working together making cards and my new mini scrapbook cards so I have nothing to show for the making, but I -have- finished them!


The books are all filled with little scrapbooking accents, cards, labels, picture corners, and all kinds of other little bits so you can jot secrets, keep a small brag book in your wallet or purse, or send a surprise message to a friend as a gift.  They use hand printed paper in neutral and gold stripe and have inside grunged floral covers and a recycled brown exterior the size of a gift card. Each book is hand stamped and sewn biding and have four or more double sided pages with decorated insides.

You can see some more clips on my Flickr gallery.

8.22.2009

Repairing wood dings and scratches with your art cupboard contents

It's the 5th day and I'm still completing my couch. Not that it's taking five days to sew. Really I'd say it's only been about two hours worth of work thus far, but I do it while my baby is sleeping and amongst my other "To Do"s so it's not done yet... but I think it's really going to turn out alright! I'm using yarn, of all things, because it blends wonderfully and is quick! It's really relaxing, actually. I thought hand sewing would be a bit annoying, but I find it surprisingly peaceful. It's more than half done and I've already used it in the early morning feedings and it's suuuuuper comfy...





I thought for this "in between progress" posts, I'd list a tip I have for fixing wood scratches. I wouldn't suggest this for any antiques, but I have (probably like most people) some items with cheap wood and a wood grain coating on it to try to make it look like a better quality than it really is. Of course, I really love real wood, but these days, there doesn't seem to be as much of it to go around and it's hard to find quality wood or to always afford antiques. Sometimes we 'settle' with cheap wood masquerading as the real thing or sometimes we love an item no matter what it's made out of (like this jewelry box I'm working on.) However, when this kind of wood scratches, the damage is really obvious and really is a real bummer because without an underlying grain, you can't sand it and re-finish it without losing the grain look painted on top. Having moved frequently, my stuff tends to pick up a lot of dings and scrapes but I've found the damage can be muted or sometimes even hidden with this simple spot-touch trick. It involves a set of colored pencils and a walnut.



First you need to use your artsy skills to choose a few colors to recreate the wood color, as well as the darker and lighter tones in it. Usually the color won't be what you expect it to be. This reddish colored wood actually needed a bit of a purple color to blend in. I'm using Prismacolor pencils because their color is really rich and strongly pigmented. Fill in the scratch, layering in a few shades if you need until the spot is less obvious. This spot I'm working on is already less visible. Don't worry if you need to go over it a few times to find the right color to blend with.


 
After coloring in all the spots, take a walnut and press it with your nail a few times to start bringing out the oils and then massage it firmly into the scratches. You can see the oil on the box in the photo. The walnut will help fill the scratch and blend the colors with the rest of the original top finish.
After rubbing in the walnut's oils, buff over your work.
 
TADA! I used to get so frustrated when an item would get a big ugly scratch across the top, but I just lived with it. I'm glad I held onto those couple of items, scratches and all, because now that I worked out this little trick, I've been able to repair all the dings in some of my favorite little things. You'd barely know this surface ever got screwed up now and it's nice to see them restored to their original luster, if you will.
 
The scratches in this box, which is one of my very favorite, were really obvious and really deep.

It was a tricky piece to pick out a color for...
But the finished result looks so much better!  Dings this deep are still a little visible when you get up and look at it close, but when I'm sitting in the room and look its way, now all I see is my favorite chest, not my favorite chest with huge scratches in it. Yay!
I hope you go try it out and fix some of your own favorite things. n...n

8.18.2009

Apologies--

(Sorry for some of the formatting errors on the previous post. I'm really new at using blogger and I kinda jacked it up. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually!)

Organizing Projects

As of now, I've been off work and dealing with my own affairs for a while. To me, it doesn't seem that long but when I start to count, it's been around nine months or so. In that time, I've not even done too many art projects but I've had a lot of good intentions and hoarded supplies that haven't been used yet.

Now that I'm feeling settled and ready to refocus, I'm trying to lay the groundwork for not just being able to do art, but do it efficiently and in a cheerful studio. I'm also trying to get my business dealings in line. That means special orders, paperwork, and more. Another video is also in the works and I'm filtering through two months worth of footage to put together clips and separate out the video that will be its own video. 

I've seen -so- many great art studios that are inspiring and beautiful and mine is pretty drab. My family all thinks I should be able to do interior decorating because I do other kinds of arts
 but one kind of creativity is not the same as
 another. Interior design is NOT my strong point and I feel like I have trouble envisioning creative looks for any kind of space. That's probably why my studio space still looks like this. It's not because I think "Labeled Plastic Tub" is hot this season.

As for the contents, I have everything I need in generally the best place and I can usually 
find what I'm looking for, but it's pretty much ugly and doesn't inspire me to feeling enchanted.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'm hoping to change it up a bit and make it a more inviting place to work. Since I share the room with my baby, it also means I'm probably going to work within her portion of the room's color palate. I'm pretending that's limiting, but in all seriousness, I love pink and flowers and I'm excited about the excuse to use such colors.

Ehem.



Her bedding was picked out to suit my tastes (Because it's not like THEY look at it at this age, right?) I found some really pretty material in the form of sheets at an inexpensive department store. (Whether it's from Ross or Nordstrom, it's all made in China so if I'm buying something new, I'll take Ross, please.) I feel like it matches the color of the bedding well enough. Since the bedding has a few different shades of pink, red, and green, I can really have a lot of wiggle room.


I also picked up this really rad pillow for trying to tie in her bedding to the sheets. I envisioned hanging the sheets in alternating sections to make a striped material like a curtain. It will hang over that rack of things to hide all the boxes and containers when I'm not using them and be drawn to the side when I want to but god knows I'll make it look like a bloody circus in there before I'm done. 

...Okay, so I really do think the silky shiny is ridiculous and bound to be a little crazy but I'm honestly glad for an excuse to do something like use pink satiny material! The only thing is that really, when I look at these, the first thing I wonder is who would sleep on 100% polyester bubblegum pink sheets. Wow. Talk about love motel.



So... While I'm at trying to make not-circus looking curtains for my art shelf, I decided I should put a chair in here so I can take a sitting break or work on projects on my butt instead of my feet from time to time (Or play with the kid, of course.) but rockers are kind of expensive. To be honest, I have always found camp couches pretty comfortable and I just so happen to have one. I bought this one a few years ago at a garage sale for a few dollars and it's served me well at various Ren faires.







I'd purchased a woven white blanket while I was getting the sheets because I thought woven natural material would help soften and tone down the bright pink you could practically use as a Slip 'n Slide. The baby blanket and new pillow look cute on it, so now I needed to get this from 'draped blanket' to slip cover. Another thing I'm not super wonderful at is sewing but I thought it'd make a great practice to fit the fabric to this chair by pinning in reverse and then sewing it.






By the time the sun had set I had managed to get this far. So much for pinning in reverse, but as I worked I realised there were some folds that were just going to be over my head at this inexperienced stage that I am and I could more easily tuck the folds under and pin them on top. Still, it felt really good to be able to pin and fit on a model and start to understand the process of tucks and darts and I started to get more comfortable with it. That right side is still a bit wonky, but I have time to fiddle with it in the morning. 

When I'm done getting it as smooth as possible, I think I'm going to hand sew it.  Uh. Yeah. Cause I'm crazy. Still, I really think that it might work and that it might not be too fussy and will be kind of cute! ... I hope! I'm always so proud when I decorate anything even if it's all ghetto. :D



Now that I had those few projects going, I decided it was time to take a break and do something simple and that I'm already familiar with so on to organizing! I pretty much have so much to do that it's best to take things one step at a time. Work on a few projects that might take a few days like the couch and curtains and some that are quick and fun like organizing my ribbon drawer. 

I just got a bunch of really great ribbons for random projects as well as silk ribbon embroidery and I don't want to put any more loose ribbons into this rolling cart's drawer as they might get smashed. I have so many ribbons in here now anyway that they're starting to be too wild and disorderly looking. The point is that I want the studio to be organized AND inviting and this is neither!

Besides the ribbon, I have a ton of silk flowers that I was making tubs I could wall-mount but a few of the flowers have very thick and long stalks that were not sitting well in my new tubs and the thought occurred to me that maybe I should just try to hang the ribbons from those particularly long stems. 

I bent some hangers real quick...


Then I attached my wire hangers to hold the stems on in a spot where I could not only access my ribbons, but also to the flowers in case I need one for a project. Once I use up all of the flowers and the stem is spent, I can remove it, slide the ribbons onto a new flower stem, and place the new stem on the hangers. I used a level to make sure they were straight enough and tapped in a nail at a downward angle to keep the hanger from falling off. I made sure the flowers would face forward and then I was done. Voila!


So far I think it's a pretty cute idea, albeit looking a little sparse. If I'd used matching flowers that fit a theme it could be pretty cool. I might actually see doing something like this as a means of hanging jewelry as something kind of posh, especially if you got some really good quality flowers or neat twigs. As I'm using it, it's just a little quirky and a bit useful to store both my tall flowers AND ribbons in one spot. So amazing modern art? Maybe not at the moment... but clever organization tip? Possibly! What I'm hoping is that as I finish decorating up the rest of the studio, it will blend in and really look like a cool design element. After I get all my ribbons sorted out, I'll be sure to hang them in a nice color arrangement or something. That might look pretty neat, if my unskilled interior designer self may say so!

8.15.2009

Welcome :D

Well, it's my first time doing a blog, so I'll endeavor to make it the best I can.

I've had a lot of fun making videos on YouTube, but as a one person 'production team', doing everything required to get decent videos up and going really takes a long time and I just can't update or make a video for everything I do. So, I thought, why not a blog? 

Okay, so I won't deny that videos are a lot more fun sometimes than blogs, but as an avid blog reader, I know there are some blogs I love and that I love every bit as much as you could hope to even without videos. Not to say I won't make videos anymore, but just, I suppose, that I hope this blog will be alright. And not lame. Yeah. I hope it will help fill the gaps between videos and bring more art projects and tutorials your way.

In the mean time, I've updated my Flickr and my website is in the middle of a host transfer, so I hope that'll be done soon so I can show the updates to it. I'm working on another video for YouTube also. Trying to keep really busy and get back up to speed...

Take care, Everyone.