10.26.2010

Twig and Floral Hair Clip/Brooches

Happy Tuesday!

It's really been more like "Panic! Holy crap, I have a blog due today! Tuesday", but let it never be said a deadline wasn't good motivation.

Recently, I happily sold a very special line of hair combs and headbands to Ballard Home Comforts, a cute home decor and personal accessories boutique on the main street in Ballard. This week, I'm working on a new batch of combs in the same vein and thought I'd share the tips so you can make your own clip-brooches to liven up your wardrobe this winter.


Twig and Floral Hair Clips/Brooches::


Three finished clips done and getting packaged up!

Supplies::

  • hair clip
  • flat back pin
  • felt
  • florals
  • wire
  • e600 glue
  • protective face mask
  • a table protector you don't care about ruining (like a towel or wax paper)


Prep Instructions::

After cutting felt ovals, or whichever shape you prefer, prepare your hair clips. Although it would be possible to hand-sew a hair clip and pin back to your felt, you'll save time and probably even get a superior hold by using a glue method. In this tutorial, I'm suggesting e600 glue, however it's important to use a mask and ventilate your area when using this glue.



This hair clip has holes that run down the center. Although that will help the glue have places to hold the clip to the felt, if you try to glue the piece on with the clip closed, you'll probably glue it shut. I wedged my clip open with a spare pin bar.


What e600 glue lacks in charm when it comes to how it smells and makes you feel about the health of your brain cells, it makes up for in how it lets you stick things to metal. I think about the loads of cute hair clips I've made in the past whose decorations popped off because hot glue wanted nothing to do with metal clips and it makes me bummed I didn't find this glue earlier.


Your glue will take a while to dry, so I like to make as many of these backs as I think I can stand at one time and keep them ready so I can get right into decorating when the mood strikes.


Think about if you want the clip to be worn on the left or right and turn your clip accordingly. Be sure that your bar pins have the latch end facing in such a way that the knob end faces down in the locked position.


Decorating::

This is a great scraps or vintage-baubles-without-a-mate project. All you really need is a silk flower that catches your fancy and any other decorations you like. Or you could screw the flower and glue some Dia de los Muertos skulls and little bits of chains and lace onto it. Whatevs. The magic of glue means quite a bit of artistic freedom. However, since I'm me, that means I'm making twig and floral themed combs.


Whatever you decide to add, get a little crazy with the glue and really give it enough for your objects to have something to grip onto and be surrounded by. e600 glue will dry clear and be a little flexible and it will stay wet for a while while you work so it's easy to make little puddles and keep sticking things into it to build in layers.


The one big pain about e600 glue is that it takes time to set and dry. That means I usually find some weird place to prop up my pieces to support their bases and all the little parts from shifting while it dries. (Here it is, pictured resting on a tag that's wrapped around a bundle of wire.) 

You could definitely switch to hot glue at this point (which I've been very close to doing in some frustrated moments now and then...) because the hot glue should stick the fabric flowers to the felt quite well. However, it can make those annoying strings that get stuck all over your work and it dries kind of opaque and makes it really noticeable on the finished product if there's any visible anywhere. Additionally, if you start using materials with smooth, less porous surfaces, hot glue may not take them well. It's certainly quicker and less finicky though, so depending on how you feel about the pros and cons, as well as your materials, you can make your choice.


After your clip dries, use sharp scissors to trim the felt if you like. This will make sure you don't see any felt from the front of the clip. But be careful! You don't want to cut some wonky, jagged shape that looks goofy on the back. Try to keep it nice. :3


Voila!


Finished!


After the glue fully cures (which you should give it overnight to do at least) I'll come back with my very fine scissors and trim up and clean the flower petals and leaves and stay certain edges or portions that may need it. I personally try to choose the highest quality silk flowers available at the markets I visit, however even the priciest ones can get a few loose threads in handling or being shipped. A simple clean up will really make a huge difference in the completed project.


(Are you staring at my flower's frayed edges now? STOP. XD)



This one I will detail with a little paint or some soft fluff on the little filaments once the glue is cured and I don't have to worry about handling it.



Here's a shot of the wire portion. My favorite part! This particular wire is challenging and fragile to work with, but it's covered in real, natural wood bark, so it looks really nice when it's finished, in my opinion.



I don't have my normal head mannequin with me but I do have a crazy wig I popped onto a vase to demo my favorite clip of the lot. I wish I could keep this one... Maybe I should. :3


If you would like to order one of the pieces shown in this post, you can nab one before they hit the retail shop for a special blog-reader special of 25$ each. I'll be making at least a dozen of these, so I'll also take requests for the next few days. Simply e-mail me or comment!


Question of the week:
If you had a work table stocked with everything you could possibly need to make a hair clip that summed up your style or personality, what would the finished product have on it?

10.19.2010

The final birthday

Birthday season is winding down and it's time for a break until December. Although I did have one more pretty artistically involved birthday party recently I decided not to post any photos yet. It involved a fun outfit and one of my photographer friends is going to help me photograph some actual portraits before I blog about it. However today's birthday party marks the end of my birthday fever and back to back parties, so starting next week it'll be off the birthday topic before I start to sound like a birthday party blog.

Speaking of something else that will change next week... My photography. It's been kind of sucking lately because the new camera I got has been out of commission. And I think that, knowing I'm not going to get the quality of photograph I want in the end, I've been really lazy about taking the time to set up photos or put effort into more instructional images. I'm going to get back to my better camera and try to attempt actual photography instead of just snapshots. It's my top blog priority. O...O

So, in other words, please forgive the photo (lack of) quality... but here goes!


Nico's (Belated) Birthday Party




Decor::



It's not really my usual party vibe with homemade everything. Nope! This was my first time throwing a traditional streamers-and-balloons kind of party though, so it was actually kind of exciting to me. Got the pirate balloons, weird fuzzy red stars... It's kind of like if the 4th of July involved skulls. When I was checking out at the party store, the clerk was bagging my faux parrot (ex-parrot?) and plastic cutlass and asked if the party was going to be at my kid's school or at home. "My kid" is my now 26 year old husband, so that got a startled laugh from the woman behind the counter... but no blame to the clerk. I could see an 8 year old well at home here. I guess it just so happens that Nico and I have childish personalities to appreciate crepe paper spirals.


Prep was pretty simple, since most of the decorations were purchased. Though the "purchased party" look was convenient, I'd never do it again because of all of the plastic waste involved. All the packages and cello and ... bleh.



Miss Pants was immediately interested in owning every balloon she could get her hands on. I figured letting her drag a mylar balloon around the house wouldn't do anything, but before long, it looked like this. Because mylar is pretty indestructible, except where spiky lime trees exist for toddlers to bang balloons on. This is her bummed face about her dead balloon. (Okay, it's more like her vacant, dazed face, but you know. She was kind of upset all the same.)


Treats::



I don't know why caramel apples popped into my head as something to add onto the party menu because the other portion of it involved vegetarian Stilton cheese and walnut stuffed mushrooms and spinach filled croissants. So maybe it was out of place, but it sounded like a good idea at the time and organic fuji apples were surprisingly inexpensive at the market, so maybe it was fate.

Wanting to take a tip from those cute little cupcake flags I see everywhere, I stole  politely borrowed some images from Kawaii Not of an an angry apple. A Kawaii Not book was one item in the pile of gifts to Nico so I thought it was an appropriate party decor- though I added the eye patch onto the apples to mesh it with the pirate theme. Kawaii Not so perfectly appeals to his sense of humor that he insisted quite emphatically that the tags were "awesome" and that he wanted to keep one after the party.


However, the reality of the caramel apples did not really meet the excited expectation I had. The nostalgia of peeling caramel wrappers and melting the candies started going downhill when I burnt it immediately and started over with a microwave. Then I didn't realize that caramel should be somehow thinned down before dipping so I ended up with very thick, gloppy apples that got ridiculously stuck to their plate, even though I didn't put them on there until they were fully dried. I didn't realise they would re-adhere. The firmer caramel also made eating even more difficult than caramel apples ordinarily should be. Oops. Live and learn. At least they had angry pirate faces on them. Droopy angry pirate faces, but still. It's the little things that count at this point.



Rather than a cake, I decided to do cupcakes. Something about cupcakes to me just screams "I'm cooler than a cake". I used a highly rated recipe from All Recipes for Black Forest cake because I'd never had it before and didn't know how to distinguish a good recipe from a crap one in a book and hoped I could trust 100 or so online raters instead.

I wanted them to be filled with some cherry mix so I tried baking a spoon of it in the center of a cake, keeping a plain one as a control.




Though I feel like the cupcake with the cherry center was a little more full than the plain cupcake when it entered the oven, the plain cake obviously raised up a good deal more in baking. Additionally, the cherry in the cupcake sunk and once I removed the paper, I found it at the bottom of the cake. It would have gotten on someone's hand the second they took the wrapper off. Although it seemed cool in theory, it just wasn't working that well for me.


(This is my "Arrr" face.) Ehem. I decided to use a cutter to remove the center of the cakes, fill, and then replace the cap and top as normal. Because the plan was then to ring the top of the cupcake in whipped cream and fill the center with cherries to look like a large sized Black Forest cake, I didn't figure it would matter to do it that way and it actually worked out just fine.




Skulls were the plan for the cupcake topper. I used white candy melts and made four extended heart shapes for the cross bones...


...then made a round for the top of the skull and three streaks at the bottom for teeth and filled in the center. Dark chocolate melts were piped in simple dots for the eyes.




Piping the whipped cream was my favorite part and the cupcakes ended up super yummy. I made a tray of cupcakes that had an arrangement of skull toppers and others striped with chocolate drizzle and found black sparkly candles- even a few letter candles to spell out  Nico's name! I considered that a pretty cool find at the party store, actually.

I've been thinking I might like to get into dessert baking and decorating more. Although I don't have a very big sweet tooth, I really enjoy the decorating and cute sweets seem to be very gratefully received, so who knows. Maybe I'll try my hand at baking for no reason one of these days.


The Gifts::


Nico loves foxes but finding cute foxes is surprisingly hard. I was super into Cute Plush for a while because they have a giga adorable fox character. Not only did I pick up an angry fox mobile charm for him, but also this little fox plush that I stitched up a little outfit and fox-wig for. So he can be a dapper quasi-Steampunkish fox man! It's pretty obvious I'm into the idea of super customized toys... I actually have a bag of supplies left over that I'd intended to make a whole range of outfits with in the future and making it a long-term project. Fox-Man has glasses, an optional monocle, a working pocket watch, and a removable wig and is super soft. He still manages to look gentlemanly with a pirate patch on.



Big party mess! XD

Steampunk was a gift theme because gifts also included a brass pocket watch, airship airman's pin, and vintage army pouches just ripe for modding into a cool outfit. He also got a favorite movie on DVD and a new game.


The Party::



I provided a dish of eye patches and a mish mash of scarves and bandanas as well as some hoop earrings and everyone was pretty into dressing up a bit, including my gran. Though we universally agreed that eye patches jack with depth perception and should probably be avoided when doing any serious activity. Enjoyment was had at pointing out everyone's red elastic forehead marks after removing them too. They spent more time sitting on our foreheads (as pictured :3 ) than over our eyes. But if you've ever worn an eye patch for a while you maybe won't blame us.



For the sake of my family's privacy (or maybe just their dignity?) I decided against posting the goofy pirate photos of them, but that doesn't mean they won't end up somewhere on Facebook...




I'm kind of sad that birthday season is over for a bit. I think I'm just starting to get into the swing of throwing a party. I've done about four or five of them now and started getting more involved in entertaining. I'm getting more comfortable with it and even having fun. If I keep it up, in a few months I may just have my first dinner party or something particularly adult like that. Who knows. :3 And since the next birthday season in December includes -my- birthday, I'm sure I'll be getting back to the party making soon enough. <3

10.12.2010

Guild Wars Barbie

Alright, everyone. I've decided that the Meandrous blog is going to become a weekly blog. I always have the best intentions on posting new material, but letting groups of photos pile up in the Best Intentions folder on my desktop isn't really the same as getting my blogs published, is it? I think with a new deadline to meet every week though, I can get back to regular posting and maybe give people some incentive to return. That might be good, huh?


It's birthday season in my family, with a rash of parties to attend and gifts to be made, so I've had some present projects popping up that have been a lot of fun. I had my first attempt at customizing a Barbie doll and, although I chose to use a lot of glue rather than sew a miniature outfit in the interest of time and cost, it was surprisingly hard! I have a newfound respect for doll makers, though I also think that after this little taste of doll customizing, that I would love to try one again and really put a lot of time into it.


My cousin is hardcore into Guild Wars. When it was her 21st, I figured customizing a Barbie into her character would be an unexpected (and hopefully appreciated) gift.


Mind, I didn't really remember what her character looked like, but I did vaguely remember her avatar's outfit when she showed it to me on a wiki, so I printed that out and worked from it. (Thanks for the photos, Sis. XD)


The only thing I had specific reference to was her character's cape because she'd made a real one for herself to wear to some sort of conference recently and someone had photographed them. It involved a diamond print and jester's hat, so I made a little stencil and used puff paints for it, because that's how they'd made their own so I figured go for it! It was a fairly simple way of getting custom looking fabric. Though It wasn't exactly luxe enough to work on a large scale, for a Barbie cape it was perfect.


(Guild Wars Barbie performs the plank while she dries.)


The character model I had shows all kinds of tattoos, which I thought really were a selling point of the character class, so I had to make sure to include them. Although they weren't completely clear, I tried to get the gist of them using a permanent black marker. I know that's not totally high tech or anything to use a marker, but I really had no idea how to tattoo a Barbie. Acrylic paint? I was worried that would peel. In the end, I think it turned out alright.


The wiki showed a tribal belt with little teeth and beads. No such luck finding Barbie-sized wolf tooth beads, but these faux bone and wood beads got the general feel across. I made my own headpin and strung them onto a faux leather thong belt laid over a folded brown organza ribbon that created a woven fabric belt effect.


The doll originally came with hideous pink gogo boots, plastic star necklace, and some kind of a low quality plastic airport bag. Because it was my cousin's 21st, the original necklace accessory was repurposed as a Necklace of Stumbling with a custom enchanted item effect. (Snerk. Alcohol jokes are some kind of requisite on 21st birthdays.) I don't really know if Guild Wars uses classic role playing terminology for their items, but whatevs. : D 

I later regretted tossing the Barbie handbag. Bag of Holding, anyone...?


My black marker and puff paint came in handy to modify the original Barbie box. With some scrapbook paper for the background and a printout of the original character on the back, it was looking pretty sweet. n...n


I'm glad to say that she loved her doll. Because of the glue use (only the head covering is removable) I had to consider this one display only, but for my first Barbie remodel, it could have been worse. At least I didn't get her arm melted to her forehead. I would have liked if I could have made a fully removable costume, but being as inexperienced as I am at something like this and looking at all the detail already involved I think I'm glad that I tried to avoid biting off more than I could chew. Having a finished project, at the end of the day, is kind of better than "Best Intentions", after all. :3