11.30.2010

Yulchristmahanakwanzakuh In A Box

Even though I'm not religious about Christmas, I was raised with the traditions and can't really picture a winter season without them. In my house, I guess you'd say we celebrate a combination of Christmas and Yule. (Yule-Mas, I'll just call it.) So this year I was counting on a big, classic Yule-Mas with the whole family. However, Husbie is a sailor and will be in and out of port so we planned to delay the celebrations. That was fine and good but everywhere I look in Blogland, I keep reading about advent calendars and it was making me regret that December 1st was coming around and there wouldn't be -anything- seasonal in my house.



December in Hawaii. How's your weather?

I'm not sure the history of advent calendars, but I love the idea of them and figured it would be an easy way to have something a little holiday-ish to tide me over until January. But here it is the day before and advent calendars aren't really a make-in-an-hour kind of project. So, being a little naughty, I decided to spoil us with a Playmobil advent calendar which are surprisingly affordable and pretty cute. (I admit a deep love for the oddly specific Playmobil designs, but have never owned any before now.)


It's going to be a store-bought (rather than handmade) Yule-Mas this December. XD



First thing I did is run, last minute, to the craft store. We don't have nearly as many craft stores where I live as I'm used to having, and the one that's nearby was incredibly picked over. Still, I managed to get the last mini tree and Flora hauled it from 'the fields' into the front door.


My haul was pretty simple. The plan was just to make a small layout for the advent calendar to add a little cheer. In my house, we were always real tree people, but in Hawaii, all of the real trees are shipped in in shipping containers across the ocean and it seems kind of wasteful to me so I've become (temporarily) a fake tree person so I can use it year after year. The secret is in lighting a pine candle. >.>


So it's not homemade... but I'm secretly stoked about the cheesy-rific awesomeness of that crazy fluffy garland! I also picked up some mini ornaments, some bead garland, and some little wood figures to make an angel with. I figured I should at least have -something- handmade. It's going to be cheeser all the way.




Cute holiday advent calendar from Playmobil! Have you ever had one of those or seen them before? It's 24 cubbies with a playmobil figurine in each. It comes with a matching landscape so you can build a themed setting over the course of the month. So excited about it. I also got some LED lights. I've never had any, so I'm stoked to check them out.
 
Dorky Retro-ish Fantastic Mr. Archangel::
(Or take it seriously and make something adorable.)
 
Supplies:
  • Wooden figures
  • Felt or cloth
  • Acrylic paint
  • Foil
  • Gold toned wire or metallic gold wired-edge ribbon
  • Decorative ribbon
  • Tacky glue
  • Opt: Dremel or power drill and bits

 
I've seen little figures like this all over the internet with cute, painted faces. They're really sweet, simple little dolls that I've seen made into everything from dollhouse toys to wedding toppers. They're usually very quirky-cute with delicate features. Their short, squat bodies lend well to the cartoony acrylic colors and make sort of Kawaii-Style cute finished products.
 
That's not what I'm doing with this angel. So be prepared.
 
Step One:: Drill/Cone
 
 
Mark the center of your doll with a pen and then drill a hole with a rotary tool, like a Dremel, or a power drill. If you don't have one or you want to do this project with kids, you could glue a piece of cardstock around the figure that extends the body in a little cone or cylindrical shape.
 

What you're looking for is a well in the bottom deep enough or a cone glued onto it so when you pop your archangel onto the tree it will, you know, stay there.

Step Two:: Paint



So, we pretty much love foxes. The advent calendar comes with foxes (yay!) and our favorite recent movie was The Fantastic Mr. Fox (It juuuuust migh be under the Yule-Mas tree this year... just saying...) and my husband and I played a game with a fox character in it so I've decided to dork out by making my angel an archangel fox for that little bit of WTFery needed to make this setting pop and make up for some of the store-boughtness effect it has going on.

I observed the little wooden doll aesthetic and decided that to get that cute, simple wooden doll look that's so popular, one should keep the features plain. Mouths should either be skipped or be just a line. Keep eyes low and wide spread. Blushy cheeks are sweet too. It's best to avoid painting too much detail. I think Mr. Archangel has kind of a nice face at this point. If I would just leave him well enough alone, he could be kind of adorable. But I won't leave him alone. He has to get odder.

Step Three:: Wings


By far my favorite part! My mom had these crazy little cherub ornaments from the early 50s that were a little kitschy and cool. They had totally fabu-silly foil wings on them and I had to do it on my angel.
 
Ideally, you'd want to use spray glue and layer heavy-duty tin foil until you got a thicker sheet, but I was in a hurry to surprise my honey before he got home from work so decided to freehand cut from a single sheet. It will display well enough.
 
Regardless of how many layers you choose to do if you make yourself some retro angel foil wings, to add some decoration, use a soft pencil in a slightly squishy surface like a sheet of foam, or maybe even a notepad and you'll get cool, decorative indentations. I detailed some sort of stylized feather patterns.
 
Step Four:: Decorate
 
 
I felt a mixture of humor and embarrassment at what I'd created. I opted for my cheap craft felt rather than my good wool felt. It even has some wild sparkle stuff plastered to it. I gave him a rocking tinfoil sword, and... yeah. If I'd made this with any intent other than irony, I'd expect to be turned into Regretsy for what happened here. It's a little bit cute in the face,  little bit retro in the tinfoil accessories, a little bit tacky garage sale cast off in the felt.
 
My husband loved it.
 
But don't get me wrong, I think this method could be used to produce a really cutesy angel. I'd just try to stick to high quality cloth, or maybe just paint entirely. Smaller wings and keeping the body short will make a more petite and sweet finished project. But, then again, if you have fun with it and it makes you laugh, maybe that's all that matters.
 
 
After putting up the lights and setting up the advent calendar's scenery stand, I really wanted to open up day one. ;...; Curses having to wait for tomorrow! It's all cheerful now, even if it's only on a few square feet out of the whole house.

I added some candles there because, at home, we would light a candle as a "snow candle" to wish for it to start snowing...


...Considering the back yard looks like this, I figured I'd need to light three snow candles to even get the temperature to drop a little.


Happy Winter Holidays/Yulchristmahanakwanzakuh/Athiest Non-Celebration/Shopping Season!

11.24.2010

Working at my new work table!

For anyone new to visiting my blog, welcome! I would love to have you. I update my blog with projects more often than I do my videos these days, so if you'd like to peek at little art projects, please click "Follow" or add me to your RSS reader feeds. : )

New readers, here are some of my favorite past posts:: 

Favorite homemade gift project
Favorite accomplishment (big tiered cake!) 
First ever doll customization

I currently update my blog once a week, every Tuesday, but I hope to increase the frequency in the long term. Please stop by again!


The Tsumami Kanzashi Business::
Breaking from the House Correction series for the holidays, I've decided to prioritize recording some more videos. You wouldn't believe how many e-mails I still get about my Tsumami Kanzashi video that was pulled down a long while back. Maya Kanzashi threw a copyright fit because I included two example photos of their products in my video. Even though I credited and linked to them, they still apparently would rather I not show their products. They were obviously not of the "oh well, free advertisement" crowd, but I guess that's their right. Subsequently, The Happy Peoples of the Intranets have proceded to send me friendly and encouraging letters to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make a new Kanzashi video.

My most recent e-mail was from a sweet gal named Tamekia who wanted to know how to do the petal fold. I told her I would make her a quick video to demonstrate the method. As I say in the video, I *will* make a complete, more detailed Kanzashi video soon. I'll record the footage before the holidays and take it with me on vacation and edit it once I get access to my video computer, so I hope to have it done by early to mid-December. Just in time for winter celebration gift-giving!



So, Tamekia, here is your visual response to how to make petal folds. I'll be able to include details about the twisty arrangement and your other examples in e-mail format.








The other business::
In my last post, I was busy prepping and creating a decent studio space to work in. I worked in it for the first time on a small bracelet resizing project!



In my spare time designing art jewelry, I recently decided to take up representing a commercial line as a distributor so I could provide both traditionally approachable pieces to compliment my art line of nature-inspired wire art. This cute little bracelet has lampwork, floral themed beads and some sweet crystals, but my customer wanted it a little larger than the manufacturing company created it.


In my new, clean, organized, SNAZZY studio space, I sat down with a bead tray and got to work. Believe it or not, I've never actually re-strung a bracelet before.



I thought that locating complimentary beads for the bracelet would be the hardest part, but actually I was able to find some easily. It was even easy to find matching divider beads. What was tricky was getting two strands of elastic cording through all of the beads! Needless to say, not exactly giddy and ground breaking fun...



But in the end, I think you'd probably never know this bracelet was sized up!



Because the bracelet fix was pretty simple and I was itching to keep testing out my new workspace, I decided to throw together a little headband for my daughter before we went to the shops. Normally, it's such a small project that I wouldn't have shown it, except given all the kanzashi business above, I think it's appropriate.


Eeek! Do you love it like I do? Très cute, isn't it? I found the original tsumami flower I made in my tutorial video in a little tin and decided to twist it onto a toddler headband along with one of my super coveted bira bira flutters that I'm super stingy with. I also used a scrap ribbon and a Hello Kitty hair tie I had sitting around for a cute, 60 second headband fix.


My studio pet, Cinnamoroll, wears it for you.


Thank you for stopping by- and hold tight. : ) I'll get your full Tsumami Kanzashi video for you soon. Thanks for being patient! Everyone feel welcome to leave me a hello comment if you like and let me know what kinds of arts you've been up to (or wanting to try!) the last few months!

11.23.2010

Eek! Notice. That's not "Eek... notice!" It's like... an Eek-notice. ... Never mind.

Last week I was a naughty biscuit. My husband's ship pulled back in port and all thoughts of a blog flew out the window. I was telling myself I should at least sit down and leave a note about it and then I promptly forgot! : D I also forgot what day it was today because I've had an acute case of Life Happening, so I do hope to sit down and record some video for a blog tomorrow and get it posted.

Thanks for understanding!

<3, M

11.09.2010

House Correction Series #2:: Studio Storage

After the not-so-tough challenge of just rearranging an area, I decided to bump myself up a half step to build some modular storage. I know, "That's not so tough," you're saying. And true, it's not. But I made a lot. Like... a lot. Seven storage pieces in total, plus I had to do a lot of cleaning and rearranging to even get to the point where I had somewhere to put them. So was it hard? Yeah, it kinda took me off an on all week between general life and a baby.

But still, SO worth it.


Studio Storage::

Difficulty: Moderate
Time: Fairly time consuming
Cost: 140$


The Mission::
 
Sad, right? What is it? It's useless. Functionless. Just a table-less storage cell for yard sale fodder boxes and a half-way filled out art supply storage shelf. It's even got a gate on it.
 
I had started this area a while back but I never finished because the workbench that this room needs to be finished and functional had been covered with books during a really wild rearrangement plan that obviously wasn't going to pan out and got abandoned. So that was the plan. Get a workspace going in here by bringing in an actual work surface and adding storage.
 
 
The Problem::
 
Getting the work bench into the new studio space meant getting the books off the bench top. But the closet shelving that used to be the book shelf has been completely junked up with a random collection of remaining books, fabric storage, and art supplies from when I thought that might be the new studio storage space, but then changed my mind. Now do you get why it's called House Correction... and it's a series? Because I'm apparently just that disorganized.
 
 
My bookshelves look like this. And, sadly, this is one of the neater shelves because the worst ones were a little too embarrassing to share. Who even uses VHS tapes anymore? Sorry, "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century", if I want to watch you again, I'm pretty sure you'll be on YouTube. I think these will be yard saled...
 
 
 
The Process::

 Luckily, it's an easy enough fix. It just required lots of patience making a big pile on my floor, separating out the storage categories, thinning what was no longer desired, and replacing it in order.



The fabric is now more neatly folded and stored on a cart in the studio storage. That made room for...
 


The books. I went with the rainbow arrangement method, instead of the topic-based arrangement. Although it makes for some odd combos (Mrs. Beeton next to Mudras, Harry Potter, and Douglas Adams?)


The overall effect is incredibly satisfying to look at! I have this thing about rainbow. Even my underwear drawer gets the rainbow order treatment. Rainbow must be everywhere.



With my workbench cleared in the other room, I was able to break it down and move it into the kitchen/storage area. I use my old massage table, topped with a scrap of plywood that I was gifted from a friend, for my workbench and gave it a refresh with a new covering. A really useful work area with adjustable height, essentially for free! After that, I got started setting up my storage cubes and sorting out materials.
 
 
 
 
 Pictured: Two of the new cubes, painstakingly screwed together over the course of two days with many idly bored thoughts and cold cups of coffee.
 
 
The storage cubes I picked out had been things I'd eyed longingly at the local craft store for over a year. Cute, project specific, crisp looking, and way overpriced. Hawaii is already a cuss of a lot more expensive in general, but little storage bits like this seem unfairly priced to me in general. At nearly forty dollars per modular unit, I knew they were things I'd drool over, but never buy- Until they went on mega sale. I gladly paid only 20$ per unit for these storage boxes. Overall, it was a bit of an investment when you consider that I started loading my cart with them like I was on Supermarket Sweep, but when you know what you want, you know what you want.



There's so much space now...


So much... space. I don't even know what to do with it all!
 
 
 The towers even have a bajillion (no, really. I counted.) little twist top containers to hold all my bits and bobs like abandoned rhinestone bracelets for whatever use rears its head,


to the obligatory little gears and watch bits every studio should be stocked with.
 
 

Completion::
 
 
The new table top is so much more pleasant to work at. Nice and tidy, plenty of room for materials and teacups teaboats. Storage cubes fit under the work bench, filing storage is on the right wall, general art storage on the left... though I'll withhold any pictures there until I have it all filled and properly organized.



Are you someone who literally relaxes at the sight of order? I am. I've been working on the haphazardly cleared corner of a cluttered workbench for the past few months. Seeing this comparatively vast and ordered space just makes me want to sit down and make something totally sweet and not get up for hours. I love order. Love it. The day I shut the door on the final closet I have to organize, I'll probably sit down and cry with joy.



Final Thoughts::

I'm so happy. I think I'll love it even more when everything is neatly stored away in the cubbies and shelves and I remove all the boxes of yard sale merchandise. (Maybe suck it up and actually HAVE the yard sale... I need to finance the fence I want to put up somehow...) I have a few more things I'd like to do, like finish a painting for the wall in there that I started, maybe get a little blue rug, and I'd love to get some room color in there. Especially with lace! However, overall, I couldn't be more pleased. It's been a real joy seeing things finally start to unfold. Even Nico is getting in on the spirit of tidying, decluttering, and establishing storage. It's been hard work so far, but probably been my most personally satisfying project in a long time.
 
 
Do you have any rooms in your house that need a storage overhaul? Have any storage or organizing tips?
 
 
 

BONUS::

Did you notice how this...


Kind of looks like this? ::


When I was assembling the storage units, I noticed how very kitchen-like they looked. I'm a maniac for play kitchens. I think because, when I was a very young girl, I had ridiculous asthma and was hospitalized for a long while. The hospital had a rocking play kitchen and it was my favorite part of the day when I got wheeled down to the play room and could play with it. I've pretty much been looking forward to using my kid as an excuse to load up on toy kitchen goods before I even got pregnant. The time is nearing... oh yes... I see adorable Haba mushrooms and strawberries jangling in those hanging containers and a modified side cube as a sink/washing machine... I think I needs a jig saw for Christmas. I'm going to hack the crap out of these storage units. (Now you see why I bought seven? Some for me, some to share!)

11.02.2010

House Correction Series #1: Tea Corner

I've been putting a lot of effort into learning about organizing and decorating. Now I want to start putting some things into practice, starting with the streamlining of my room functions.


One of the things that I've observed about my house is that none of the rooms make sense. It's also got a bad case of the giant white box syndrome, but not in a pleasant way. It's more like a "wow, you rent, don't you?" kind of way.



I plan to re-fashion each room, including a coat of paint, drapes, rugs, and the whole nine yards. I'm no Centsational Girl yet, but I'll keep practicing. Starting with the easiest projects, like rearranging, I hope to attempt more complicated re-vamps so that I eventually end up at refinishing a piece of wood furniture. I'd also love to put a fence in the back yard. However, starting small...


Tea Corner::

Difficulty: Very Easy
Time: Short
Cost: 45$

The Mission::


Maybe I should preface this to say that I have a really common house. It's not what you'd call a "Magazine Home". And I'm not one of those put-together women with refashioned vintage wardrobes who takes summer trips to France for wine tastings and posts photos of the trip with my 5000$ camera. (I'd totally take that gig, but that's beside the point.) I guess you could say I'm a young woman with champagne tastes and a beer budget but that doesn't mean I won't try to learn the ropes and make a cute house.

A while back, I made an attempt at personalizing by setting aside a small corner of my living room for a chair and table where I like to have my tea and such. It was a good idea in theory and I feel like my heart was in the right place...


The Problem::


Apart from the aesthetic issues of how unfortunate the white walls and standard issue faux-tile flooring are paired with the "A For Effort" furniture choices, the biggest problem at the moment is that my really destroyed antique side table becomes a collection for the household technology because of the location of our internet equipment.



Not only is the arrangement an eyesore that makes me feel stressed out in what should be a relaxation corner, but it's not exactly the safest place for a house with a kid in it.


The Process::


1: First thing- rearrange and wrap up the cords and stack equipment nicely.
2: Remove dated chair that swallows people whole.
3: Roll in free, slightly damaged dining table from kitchen and fantasize about one day affording a cute bistro set.
4: Collect decor from around house.

For now, I'm reusing ladder back chairs that my parents had for years before giving to me when I first moved out as a teen. They've been painted all kinds of things. Last time I updated them was 2001 when I had the idea that metallic gold paint and navy blue star upholstery would be totally sweet. (Sigh. Thank goodness we're allowed to change our minds.) I have some complimentary fabric for recovering them, though if I have my way they'll be replaced entirely within a year or two...


While it's not exactly a high-tech technique, I decided to do a temporary drape on the front of the table cloth. Because I'm not sure what table I want to use in the long run, I didn't want to cut it. But I thought it hanging straight down would look a little Card-Table-With-Sheet. In reality, it's a folding table with a shower curtain... but it's a PRETTY and quality cloth shower curtain. Like I said, beer budget.

The shower curtain and table runner made up my expenditure for the project, totalling around 45$ for both items. Considering I can continue to use them when I'm ready to update or invest in new furniture, I'm pleased with the purchase.


Completion::


While the old gold paint on the chairs is really ready to be retired, the gold undertones in the table runner and the picture frame I have on the table make them seem less out of place. The antique side table's damaged surface is covered until I try to learn refinishing and serves as a good extra space to keep the table from getting crowded. While the walls and floor are still quite stark, the clustering of furniture and shelving do seem a little more purposeful than before to my eye.


I like the large graphic print on the table cloth. I see people using a lot of large prints and, while I'm not really always sure how best to utilize them, looking at this print while I read or relax reminds me to think outside the box and try something new. The mini collection of some memorable items puts me in a good mood, but they're few enough to easily be cleared away to make room for a sweets platter or dinner, depending on the situation.


Also, not to be ignored, the table wedges against the wall on each side, completely blocking off and hiding all the cords and internet boxes from the kid.


Final Thoughts::

Given that I really only just rearranged what I already had, I have to say I'm surprised at how much refreshed it makes the room feel overall. Repurposing the space around me to fit my lifestyle, rather than design-as-expected, feels really nice. It's definitely gotten my toes in the water as far as trying out some ideas, but I think paint is going to have to be big on the To-Do List. 


The color palate is fairly dark. Dark woods, chocolate brown, taupe-y gold, medium blue, and sage green. I don't necessarily want to go literal and just copy a color directly onto the wall, so I was thinking maybe somehow using the taupe color if it had a metallic undertone? Or would that be weird?

Anyone have any paint color suggestions at all...? Any painting advice?