T-Shirt Bracelets
August 31, 2011, 8:30 am
Filed under: Art in Memphis, Etsy Favorites | Tags: , , , , ,

A few weeks ago, I started seeing lots of pins on Pinterest of t-shirt necklaces and bracelets. I had been trying to think of something to do with the 200 ceramic beads I made, and figured it was worth sacrificing one old t-shirt to try the method out. So far I’ve focused mainly on bracelets, but I’m SUPER happy with how they’re turning out.

T-shirt Bracelets

Can’t decide if I like them better one at a time…

T-shirt Bracelets - Single

Or stacked.

T-shirt Bracelets - Stacked

These will be for sale at the Cooper Young Festival in a few weeks here in Memphis, and eventually on Etsy. If you’re interested in picking up one (or a few) in the meantime, don’t hesitate to let me know!



Etsy Favorites: Aardvark-on-Sea
August 30, 2011, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Etsy Favorites | Tags: , , ,

I was doing so well there for a bit, and then my posting came to a screeching halt. Sorry about that! A combination of real life stress and an upcoming craft festival I’m trying to get ready for suddenly took over my life. The festival is in less than 3 weeks (EEEEK!!!), so I’ll probably be posting sporadically at best, but I’m going to do my best to post a few things a week!

I came across the first print below while browsing on Pinterest today, and am now completely obsessed with this print shop in the UK (aardvarkonsea). I want them all.

        

I’m HOPING to have a post tomorrow about something I’ve been working on. Fingers crossed!!



National Dog Day
August 26, 2011, 11:51 am
Filed under: How to | Tags: , , , ,

Did you know that today is National Dog Day? Yay for puppies! I mean really, who doesn’t love puppies? So in honor of the day, I thought I’d revisit a few puppy-themed projects from the last few months.

This is Jack. He's a cute puppy.

Tutorial for making a bandana for your doggie.

This is Sanibel. She is also a cute puppy. And in this picture, also a banana.

Tutorial on how to make a bed for your cute doggie.

Does anyone else have any fun pet-themed projects? Share them in the comments!



Before and After: Bedroom Curtains
August 19, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: Before and (Cr)after | Tags: , , , , ,

A c0mpleted bedroom curtain post has been a long time coming. I started talking about making my own curtains way back in March. Sadly, the fabric that was picked (which I’m still completely in love with) didn’t match the room in real life, so that option was out.  I looked and looked for other fabric, but just couldn’t find anything that I loved enough to make it worth all of that work.

So when I went to IKEA back in April and found some basic charcoal gray curtains for $10 per panel, I snatched them up, along with some curtain rods for my oddly rod-less apartment. About a  month later, I got around to hanging them. Here’s what it looked like that that point:

You can’t see it, but they’re about 12″ too long for the windows, and boring to boot. But I was happy with the color, and they made my room gloriously dark at night. I toyed with a few ideas on how to spruce them up, finally deciding to stencil them with an old stencil I found when I was moving. I bought a big bottle of white fabric paint, and got to work. At first I tried doing everything on the floor of my craft room, but after a near miss with the cat meandering dangerously close to the wet paint, I moved everything up on to the ironing board. Definitely more challenging, but it eliminated the risk of little white kitty footprints.

And here’s how they look hemmed, stenciled and rehung. I’m really happy with how they turned out!



Ceramics Step 4: Cleaning
August 18, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: How to | Tags: , , ,

Now that our piece has been poured, removed from the mold and carved, we have to clean it. It has to be completely dry before beginning this step, which can take up to a few days, depending on the humidity in the air. I waited about 3 days before cleaning these pieces.

As I mentioned in my last ceramics post, cleaning is easily my least favorite step. It is done with metal tools and scrubbers (kind of like the scrubby side of a sponge) and creates SO much dust, which gets everywhere. If you did a good job cleaning up the piece immediately after removing it from the mold, this step should be fairly easy, but it’s still really messy.

The goal of this step is to make your piece really smooth, and remove any sponge/tool/finger marks that were left by the prior steps.

Once the piece is perfectly smooth, I clean off the remaining dust with a brush and a damp sponge.

Two reasons I hate cleaning:

1. This can happen. Our pieces are very brittle at this point, and you have to be VERY careful not to break them. I was not careful. Twice. Boo.

2. THE DUST. So much dust. And this is just the dust that didn’t end up on the floor, or in my hair, or up my nasal passages.

But now that step is done! Yay! Up next: Painting! Much more fun.

All of the steps:

Step 1: Pouring the Mold

Step 2: Removing the Piece from the Mold

Step 3: Carving



Etsy Favorites: Man vs Ink
August 17, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: Etsy Favorites | Tags: , , ,

I discovered Man vs Ink, an Etsy shop run by printmaker Fred DiMeglio in Portland, back at Christmas when I was searching for cool beer related gifts (see kickass beer print below). When I came across the equally kickass “Onward” posters a few weeks ago, I just couldn’t resist doing an Etsy favorite post on him. He prints his designs both on paper and fabric (t-shirts, aprons, etc.) I’m definitely partial to all of the bike imagery!

     

        



How to: Folded Paper Flowers
August 16, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: How to | Tags: , , , , , ,

I came across an image on Pinterest late last week of these very cool folded paper flowers. I followed the link to a tutorial by Folding Trees, and found that the flowers were actually part of a traditional Kusdama Ball. A few days earlier, I had made a little arrangement of small vases and bottles on my dining room table, and had planned on buying some fresh flowers for them this weekend. But after seeing this, I thought it might be cool to do a display of paper flowers instead – crafty, unique and they’ll never die! I tore a few pages out of an old atlas of road maps, and got to work folding, cutting and gluing. The only thing I had to buy for this project was floral wire to make the stems, so the whole thing cost me $2.50 (plus I have a TON of wire left for future projects, so probably more like $0.25 in reality).

The Folding Trees tutorial is really easy to follow, with great fold-by-fold pictures. The only thing that I did differently was to use binder clips to keep my petals in place after gluing. The real trick is to be patient and use PLENTY of glue. I tried to use it sparingly at first, but by the end, I was using much more, and it held together much better. Here are a few progress pics, plus the finished project:



Ceramics Step 3: Carving
August 15, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: How to | Tags: , ,

So far we have poured our piece and removed it from the mold. Up next is my very favorite step… carving. I do this immediately after taking the piece out of the mold, since it needs to be completed before the clay dries.

First, I trace a basic outline on to the piece.

Second, I use a metal tool to carve the image.

And… that’s it! Here are a few pieces I carved recently.

Tune in on Thursday for my LEAST favorite step… cleaning.

All of the steps:

Step 1: Pouring the Mold

Step 2: Removing the Piece from the Mold



Ceramics Step 2: Removing the clay from the mold
August 11, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: How to

On Monday, I posted about the first step in the ceramics process: pouring the mold. After this step, you need to wait 24 hours before the clay will be dry enough to work with. I usually do the first bit of this step at the storage unit so that I don’t have to lug the heavy molds around. But since it was over 100 degrees the day I was working on this, and considerably hotter inside the unit, I decided to bring it back to the house instead.

The clay nearest the top of the mold is excess, and it’s easiest to remove that before you open the mold. I do that by scoring the clay, then tearing it off piece by piece.

After removing the excess, I open up the mold and remove the pieces.

My pieces this day came out of the molds REALLY clean. I’ve had trouble getting the right thickness in this stifling heat, but this day, the planets aligned and my slip consistency and timing resulted in perfect pieces. The next step is cleaning up the raw edges, using metal tools and a sponge.

When making boxes, you have to be concerned with how the pieces fit together. This can sometimes be a nightmare, but because these pieces came out so clean, it was pretty easy. I put the top and bottom together to make sure they dried consistently.

Check back on Monday for my favorite step: carving!!

All of the steps:
Step 1: Pouring the Mold



Ceramics Step 1: Pouring
August 8, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: How to

While I have fun doing all of the little DIY/craft projects I talk about on this blog, my real creative passion is ceramics. So I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about that. I’m going to do a series of posts over the next few weeks showing the steps and techniques I use to make the handmade pieces in my Etsy shop. I don’t think some people realize how labor-intensive making a piece of ceramic art from scratch is, so hopefully this will help you to appreciate the work that goes into it!

My last house had a garage that I used to store and pour my molds. Unfortunately, there isn’t anywhere at my new apartment where I would feel comfortable creating that big of a mess, so I have been keeping everything in a storage unit a few miles from my house. It’s certainly not an ideal setup, but it’s working for now.

My lovely studio space. ;)

Charming, isn’t it?

The first step in the ceramics process is to pour the liquid clay, or slip, in to a mold. I keep my slip in a big rubbermaid container and mix it up prior to each pouring session with a hand drill fitted with a concrete mixing bit.

I choose a few molds and make sure they’re closed tightly using big rubber bands.

Using a pitcher, I fill each mold with the slip. Once filled, the molds sit for 10-30 minutes, depending on the temperature/humidity.

The goal is to let the mold soak up enough of the moisture in the slip closest to the edges to solidify it. If you let it sit too long, it will be too thick and heavy. If you don’t let it sit long enough, it will be too thin and fragile. I check the thickness by dragging a plastic knife along the edge and seeing how clean it comes out.

Once the clay is set, I turn the mold over and balance it, upside down, on two pieces of wood suspended across the container to let the excess slip drain out to be reused next time. The molds stay like this over night to fully drain and dry.

And that’s day one! Tune in on Thursday for the next step!




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