Thursday, January 29, 2015

UPCYCLED FASHION: Crocheted Clothing from Afghans by Lord von Schmitt

This crocheted clothing is upcycled from old afghans by artist Lord von Schmitt. There is a high kitch factor with these designs. With the winter being so cold, this clothing looks like the perfect thing to warm the wearer. I'm a big fan of upcycling old things into wearable items, and vintage things. Though this might not be the fashion for everyone, it's a unique piece for an artistic wardrobe. The pieces can be custom made to the color and pattern requests of the buyer. I'm digging the granny squares cardigan. That's the perfect combo of grandma chic. Paired with a long lush dress, granny boots, long pendants, and a big hat, it makes a cozy eclectic look. To see their wacky custom creations, check out their Facebook page. You can put in your custom order in their Etsy shop.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SEWING DIY: Cuddle Cakes Patchwork Scarf + a Giveaway

This Cuddle Cakes Patchwork Scarf is for a Master Makers challenge with Fairfield World and Shannon Fabrics. They are both celebrating anniversaries, Fairfield World is 75 years old and Shannon Fabrics is 20 years old. They both challenged the Master Makers team to create projects using products from both companies, aka The Great Cuddle Cake Challenge. You can see all of those projects over on the Fairfield World blog, later this week. They are both hosting giveaways for cuddle cakes and Fiberfill stuffing or Polyfil batting. Details for those giveaways are at the bottom of this post.

Shannon Fabrics makes cuddle fabric, which are incredibly soft minky fabrics...that you want to cuddle with. I got to choose the Cuddle Cake fabrics I wanted to use. I chose Madding Monochromatic and Dark De-Lux Solid, since they fit my dark style well. Check out their Cuddle Cakes for other colors and prints. There are 20 blocks per pack, but I only used 9. You'll have a lot left over blocks for other projects. I plan on making a pillow, which I'll share a tutorial for whenever that happens. I love turning supplies normally reserved for other projects (in this case quilts), and making wearable items. The cuddle cakes are perfect for a patchwork scarf or four.


CRAFT LEVEL: Intermediate - Minky can be a tricky fabric

COST: $70 (You'll have supplies left over for additional projects)

TIME: 2 - 3 hours

SUPPLIES: 
The cuddle cakes are 10" x 10". I used 3 polka dot, 3 chevron, and 3 solid squares, for a total of 9 squares. You'll have 31 squares left over for other projects...possibly a pillow in a different tutorial...
INSTRUCTIONS:

1) The fabric has a nap, so pay attention to that, making sure all the blocks are laying the same direction. When you rub your hand across the fabric, you will notice that it's smooth in 3 directions, but not in one direction. Stack the 9 blocks so they are smooth in one direction and not in the opposite direction.

2) I divided the blocks horizontally in half. The clear quilting ruler allows me to have gridded measurements and see the fabric. Using the ruler and pencil, I drew a horizontal line at the halfway point, 5" up from the bottom. Repeat for each block, keeping them in order of the nap.

3) Cut the blocks in half along the lines. Stack the new rectangles so the nap is all going the same direction. Sort them by prints/solids.

4) Decide the order you want the rectangles to be. I alternated solid, polka dot, and chevron. The order will repeat once, since by cutting the squares in half, you've doubled the amount of pieces.

5) The trickiest part about sewing these together is making sure the nap is correct. Keep this in mind as you sew each piece together. Pin two pieces together, along one long side, checking the nap, so it's smooth.

6) Set your stitch length to 3.5 or 4, for the best results. Use a walking foot if you have one. Straight stitch about 1/4" from the edge, making sure not to stretch the fabric. Be careful sewing the ends. I found the machine wanted to eat this fabric at the ends. Remove the straight pins as you sew.

REPEAT STEPS 5 & 6, going in the order of your desired pattern, and checking the nap with each piece.

7) Trim up any uneven sides with scissors.

8) Fold the scarf in half long ways, with the right sides touching. Line up the patchwork and ends. Pin securely in place.

9) Stitch 1/4" from the edge from one end, down the long side, stopping about 4" from the middle. Leave an 8" opening. Finish stitching around the long side and other end.


10) Trim the corners at an angle, making sure not to cut through the thread. This will help turn the corners.


11) Turn the scarf right side out, through the opening. Shape the corners by hand or with a chopstick.

12) Cut one or two layers of batting 76" long by 4" wide.

13) While holding one end of the batting, insert your arm into the scarf, scrunching the scarf till your hand reaches an end. Smooth out the batting at that end. Pinch the scarf and batting together with one hand, while unscrunching the scarf with the other. This will adjust the length of batting through the scarf. Repeat for the other batting and scarf end. Adjust the batting with your hand until it's all flat and even.

14) Pin the opening closed, turning in the raw edges 1/4".

15) Line up the top and bottom of the patchwork seams and pin them in place along the seams.

16) You can either do this part by hand or machine. Set your stitching length to 4 or 4.5. Straight stitch in each patchwork seam (stitch in the ditch), making sure the top and bottom of the seam are lined up. I stitched from the long seam edge to the folded edge, so the fabric could evenly adjust if needed.


17) Hand sew the opening closed, making sure the small stitches are neat and can't be seen (a blind stitch). This will make for a more professional finish, as you won't be able to tell where the opening was.

That's it for this tutorial. You'll find that the scarf is very warm and comfortable. I used the cuddle cakes as part of a challenge, but you could do this same scarf with any fabrics. Fleece, cotton, t-shirts, old sweaters (you'll want to zig zag the seams), and even more delicate fabrics. It's a great way to use fabric scraps and old clothing. Whatever fabrics you choose to use, have fun with the project. Happy Makery!

GIVEAWAY
The first giveaway for our anniversary ends on January 31, 2015 and the second giveaway from the Master Makers GREAT CUDDLE CAKE CHALLENGE will start on January 31, 2015 and end February 5, 2015. Two great giveaways from two wonderful companies. There will be monthly giveaways throughout the year. You can enter those here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway






DISCLOSURE: Fairfield World provided the batting and Shannon Fabrics provided fabrics for this project. All of the scarf photos and information is my own.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

HOLIDAY DIY: Rainbow Fabric Snowflakes

These Rainbow Fabric Snowflakes are a little late for Christmas, but we're in the middle of Winter and still need seasonal decor. We're going with that today, because my nice camera hates me. Fairfield World sent me their new Interlinings to test out and play around with. One of them is Stick, which is a fusible webbing that can be used to adhere fabrics together, meant for mostly appliques. I wanted to create something intricate with Stick to test how well it bonded with fabric. Since it's Winter, I chose snowflakes. I painted the snowflakes a rainbow of colors to match my colorful Christmas decorations. You could choose any colors and design you want, and even embellish them more.


CRAFT LEVEL: Intermediate - Cutting through the layers of fabric can be tricky

TIME: About 20-40 minutes per snowflake

SUPPLIES:
  • Stick Interlining from Fairfield World
  • White on white printed cotton - Mine has a snowflake print. I used less than half a yard.
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Small sharp scissors
  • Large scissors
  • Clear quilt ruler
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Soft small paint brushes
  • Old or disposable plate
  • Ribbon
  • White thread
  • Hand sewing needle


INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Cut the fabric into 6" x 6" squares. You need two squares per snowflake

2) Cut the Stick Interlining into squares slightly smaller than 6" x 6".

3) Sandwich one square of Stick in between two squares of fabric. Make sure the print is facing outwards on both squares.

4) With the iron on cotton, press the fabric and Stick sandwich together. Repeat for each fabric and Stick sandwich. To check if it's completely bonded, try peeling the fabrics from each other. If they can peel away, you need to iron it some more.

5) Fold a square in half, so all the sides match up. For a 6 pointed star, you can fold it again in 3rd. For an 8 pointed star, fold it in half again, making a folded square. Fold the bottom folded edge up to meet the side folded edge, forming a triangle. Press firmly with your hand and release.

6) I cut the snowflake designs like I do for paper, but more simple. You can make 6 or 8 point designs. I made up the designs as I went, cutting through one double layered fold at a time. Any fold thicker than that will be difficult to cut.

7) Open the snowflakes up. Iron them all flat.

8) Work on a piece of wax paper. Pour your acrylic paint colors onto your plate. Add a little water to each paint color, to make them thinner. Using a small paint brush, paint your snowflakes. I followed the shapes I'd cut. You can paint them one or more colors. When you paint is thin enough, you will notice that the white print acts as a resist and you get a batik like effect. Lay the wet snowflakes to dry on a clean piece of wax paper. After they are dry, paint the other sides. Let fully dry.

If you use thin enough paint, you should get this batik effect from the white print on white fabric. The print will still color, but will be brighter than the rest of the painted fabric.

OPTIONAL: For added dimension, you can add details to one side with dimensional paints. If you want your snowflakes to stay white, you can stiffen them with thinned glue. You can top coat the snowflakes with shimmery acrylic paint, for a glittery effect. Let the snowflakes dry completely before hanging.

9) The snowflakes are now stiff enough to hang. You can add ribbon loops to each one for ornaments. Use a long ribbon to connect all the snowflakes for a banner. Sew the ends together for ornaments. Make loops at the long ribbon ends for easy banner hanging.

That's it for this tutorial. If you have older kids, this is something they can do, as you need sharp scissors. You could make this a family activity with younger kids painting the fabric snowflakes. This would also be great for any scout troop as nice gifts (think nursing homes!), craft groups, parent groups, or just something to do while watching TV or watching kids play sports.

DISCLOSURE: Fairfield World sent me the Stick Interlining, as part of being on their Master Makers design team. I purchased all the other supplies. The project instructions, photographs, and content are my own.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

FURNITURE DIY: Faux Metal Nightstand with Mod Podge Furniture

My old thrifted nightstands got a much needed makeover with Mod Podge Furniture. I went with a hers and his concept, though they still coordinate. You could make yours matching. I wanted to test out the new Mod Podge Furniture finishes. I used Gloss for this silver table. I used Matte for a faux leather version. You can see my review of the 3 finishes, gloss, matte, and satin, over on Craft Test Dummies. I did this project a couple months ago, and the finish is holding up well to regular use.


CRAFT LEVEL: Beginner, this is basic decoupaging, but with a layer of glitter.

COST: About $20 - $30, depending on which supplies you already have on hand, and how big your furniture piece is. The cost can go up with bigger furniture pieces. I received the Mod Podge Furniture Gloss to review, and had everything else on hand, so this was a free project for me...well under $5 for amount of materials used.

TIME: Weekend project - There is lots of drying time from multiple layers

DISCLOSURE: I use Amazon affiliate links for some of the supplies. If you purchase supplies through these links, I will receive a small compensation. I received the three Mod Podge Furniture finishes for the purpose of a review on Craft Test Dummies. All photos, commentary and projects are my own.

SUPPLIES:
  • An old wood nightstand - Mine were $8 each from Goodwill. Check thrift stores and yard sales for furniture, if you don't already have a piece to makeover
  • Mod Podge Furniture - I used Gloss for the silver nightstand and Matte for the black nightstand. It also comes in Satin
  • Small foam or soft bristle brush - If you go the foam brush route, you might need several. The regular brush will probably hold up well
  • Silver wrapping paper - Should be easy around the winter holidays
  • Scissors
  • Silver Glitter - I used both chunky and fine glitters. Cheap glitters work great
  • Black acrylic paint - House paint might hold better, but black spray paint is an option too. There are several new home decor paints available...for which I'll be trying out on a dresser project.
  • Newspaper - Keep sheets of newspaper under and around the nightstand while you are working on it. They will catch paint, glue, sanding dust, and glitter. Change the sheets out as needed
  • Sandpaper (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS:

1) If you have a shiny nightstand, you need to sand it where you are adding paper and paint. This is best done outside, since sanding dust is fine and gets over everything. A Medium to fine grit sandpaper should do the trick to rough up the surface enough for the Mod Podge and paint to grip well. Wipe down the nightstand with a damp paper towel to remove any dust. Dry the nightstand with dry paper towels.

2) If you want parts of your nightstand to be a solid paint color and not papered, paint them well. A good home decor paint won't need to be sealed. I used acrylic, because I had that on hand, but I'll be repainting my nightstand's legs with home decor paint later. Let it dry completely.

TIP: If you are a messy painter, do this part outside. Otherwise, put layers of newspaper under the nightstand to catch any drips.

3) Cut some of the silver wrapping paper into 5" x 5" squares and long thin strips. I used the squares for the table tops, cutting some smaller ones to fit around the legs and small areas. The strips were used for the sides.

4) With a paint brush, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge Furniture Gloss to a section of table top. Lay a piece of wrapping paper, shiny side up, onto the glued section. Smooth out with the paintbrush from the center out, removing any air bubbles. Repeat for the everywhere you want the silver paper, including any edges. Cut smaller pieces for any gaps or small areas. My table has lifted section. I papered all around the vertical panels. Wrap any edges, making sure to glue them well. Let dry.


5) Seal the papered areas with an even coat of Mod Podge Furniture Gloss. While it's wet, sprinkle silver glitter lightly onto the table top. (You can do it chunkier if desired...which I accidentally did in some areas) I used chunky and fine. This will give it the look of antique mirror or distressed metal. Let it dry completely.

TIP: Make sure to wash your brush immediately after you're done using it, or the Mod Podge will stay in the bristles and ruin your brush. This is speaking from much experience.


6) Seal the papered areas with 2-3 coats of Mod Podge Furniture Gloss, letting the coats completely dry in between.

I used silver wrapping paper, but you could use other metallic colors. Post-Christmas, you might still be able to find some lingering in big box stores on clearance. Otherwise, most big box stores carry metallic wrapping paper year round in the gift wrap sections. I didn't use much, so one roll can go a long way for many projects. If you don't want to commit to a piece of furniture, you could use this same technique for other home decor projects...frames, boxes, shelves, jewelry...etc. You crafty people can always come up with a use for these basic techniques, in your own spaces. Whatever you use it for, have fun. Happy Makery!

PS: In case you are curious, the two books shown on my nightstand are Richmond Macabre: Nightmares from the River City (A book of fictional horror stories taking place in Richmond, VA. Cover artwork is by my friend, Noah Scalin) and Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution (a biography).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

CHA 2015: Day Two

Today was my 2nd day on the show floor. I concentrated on scoping out fashion brands and products for new things and people to work with. It was a crazy day of talking and walking. I saw more things than one post can contain, but I'll share some highlights. I might go into depth in later posts.

The day started with touring the Plaid booth with various designers and people. They have a chalky finish line, Folk Art Home Decor, complete with wax, antiquing glaze, brushes, and scrapers. Perfect for that distressed furniture look. There are a several chalky finish lines popping up, so it was nice to see the full line from my favorite paint company. There are several stitched lines, from Bucilla and Handmade Charlotte. Wood, wearable, vintage Christmas, and wall art. I grew up doing embroidery, so it's nice to see it make a comeback. They have a new line of block printing stamps that are made of resin. They can be used with any paint, but they were being paired with a very soft fabric paint. I'm looking forward to playing with that in the future. I received a great swag bag from them, full of their chalky finish product line. I have an old dresser in need of a serious makeover. While on the tour, I got to chat with Margot Potter. I swung by ImpressArt later to check out their new tools and metal stamps.
After a quick look at the Sizzix booth, I headed back to my hotel room to unload the swag bag. I headed back to the show floor. Shortly after checking out a new product called jelly yarn, I found Cathy Attix again. We made plans for lunch, then wandered our separate ways. I looked at a bevy of jewelry companies looking for new products and people who want to work with me. I found Weave Got Maille, which specializes in chain maille jewelry kits. I checked out the new Bracelet Jig from Beadalon, demonstrated by Wyatt White, which is something I'm looking forward to trying out. I stopped by Kelly DeFries' Crystal Ninja booth to see the amazing crystal panels she decorated with crystals. She has a new sharpenable version of her Crystal Katana, the Crystal KuBaton, which is still in production. I'm excited to try it out.
Close to lunch, Cathy texted me to delay lunch, because of the Lion Brand Yarn fashion show. I went over to the show to watch and photograph it. To my surprise it featured Vanna's Choice yarns, and had an appearance by Vanna White herself. The show was beautiful, showcasing blanket and clothing designs using knitted squares mostly. I'm not a knitter, but I appreciate the work. I'll do a separate post about the show, so you all can see the range of designs better.
At lunch we saw Cathie and Steve of Mod Podge again. They were sitting with Drew Emborsky, The Crochet Dude. We chatted for a bit. We took over their table, and were quickly joined by two ladies from Stampington and Company. That is a huge craft magazine publisher, so it's great to have those contacts and information about the publisher. As a craft project designer, it's important to promote brands in projects, featured in various kinds of media, including print which is still very popular.

Another highlight was swinging by the Marvy Uchida booth to show them the skirt I'm wearing. I used their fabric markers to hand color white embroidery on a thrifted skirt. Their team was very excited to see what their markers are capable of doing for an upcycled craft. I'm looking forward to playing with their fabric lines on more fabric projects.
After finishing on the show floor, I headed to dinner with the ladies from Fairfield World, to celebrate things and get to know my teammates better. Now it's time to pack up all my stuff, so I can head back to Richmond, VA in the morning. It's been a fantastic experience seeing so many things and amazing friends. I'm sad to leave them, as seeing them in person is amazing compared to just online. Three days of craft talk is living my dream job to it's fullest. These are people who share the same passion as me, and it's hard to not be sad to go back to the limitations of online. They do say that distance only makes the heart grow fonder. I already want to come back to CHA again, as the experience is unforgettable.

(A version of this is cross-posted to Craft Test Dummies. I was going to write more photo heavy articles for them, but without going into detail, she settled for this style.)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

CHA 2015: Day One

Technically this is my 2nd day at CHA, but the 1st on the show floor. Yesterday, I traveled from Richmond, CA to Atlanta, GA, to Los Angeles, CA, to Anaheim, CA. In Atlanta, I was checking Facebook and saw that my Fairfield World teammate, Keri Lee Sereika, was also in the same airport. Her gate was a few down from mine, so she stopped by to meet each other in person.
It was a long day of traveling, but I was happy to arrive in sunny California to see new products, companies and long time friends. After I got checked in, Jenny and Vicki took me to get our show badges. Sara arrived, and we went to the Hot 20 media event. There were lots of great new products among the selected 20. My favorites are the Beadalon Artistic Wire 3D Bracelet Jig, Crystal KuBaton, Lumi Photo Printing Kit (a solar ink), DIY Decor tape by Hazel and Ruby (think huge washi tape), and Tulip's Colorshot Instant Fabric Color. I'll go into these later once I explore them more. After the event, we had dinner together. Later we met some other crafters to catch up and enjoy the evening.

Today was about exploring all the booths on the show floor for things I felt were innovative or on trend for the craft industry...and well cool stuff I like. I always look for things that can be used in wearable and home decor ways...jewelry, dyes, yarns, paints, etc. The show isn't lacking inspiration. The sheer volume of booths is overwhelming. Tomorrow, I'll likely have a better game plan of booths I want to explore more. I traveled with the Craft Test Dummies team to document the show and write articles.

The morning started with a media event for MD Hobby and Craft. They have a line of sheet metals for crafting. Their booth was decorated with a mix of industrial and whimsical designs, mostly created by designer Linda Peterson. The metals sheets are textured, chalkboard, chicken wire, and flat. They are paired with Liquid Nails, which is a great bonding glue for metals. I was most attracted to a chicken wire and paper mache dress form adorned with metal mixed media necklaces, and a sculptural floral design. I felt this best showed off the range of products (excluding chalkboard) in a way I can relate to for wearability. The metals, just like normal ones, can be patinaed and rusted, if you like that aged look...and I do.
Next we headed to Krylon, which is my favorite spray paint brand. They have a new colored sea glass, clear dry erase board, and chalky finish paints. Vicki had designed a lounge area using a bright color palette (my current favorite). Of the many things she made, the coffee table sealed with dry erase paint was my favorite. I could see this in a family home, giving kids a fun place to draw that can be easily cleaned up. The dry erase paint is also create for custom calendars and memo boards. I could use a jumbo one in my house. Chalky finish is a huge trend now, so it's great to see them incorporate that and other ongoing trends into their paint lines. They have a spray wax, which I'm interested in playing with, that coordinates with the chalky finish paints.
Then, I roamed around checking out brands I was familiar with, finding new ones along the way. I saw a lot of fantasy inspired booths and products, which are banking on a huge surge in fantasy literature and costuming. I commend companies for hopping onto this new trend quickly. The most amazing booth was Spinrite Yarns, with their "Yarnia" theme. Think of the characters and world of Narnia, but all in yarn. From the clothing to the animals to the striped tent! The level of detail is incredible. They had two knitted wolves over taxidermy forms. The designers used an eyelash yarn to give a fur effect.
Speaking of yarn, I wandered over to the Lion Brand Yarn booth. They had a wrap around of "#scarfie", encouraging visitors to take photos of themselves wearing a scarf using Lion Brand Yarn. There was a giant screen with a knitted cell phone case. Each of the characters was knitted using a variety of stitch patterns, showing off some of what their yarn is capable of doing. I'm a crocheter, not knitter, but still I find the art form fascinating. I do wish there was more crocheting represented, as I only saw knitting.
I checked out the I Love to Create booth, because I use so many Tulip products...and some of the staff are some awesome friends of mine. I took a rest and made a show lanyard with Pattie Wilkinson (Pattie Wack). While there I spotted Cathy Attix, so we chatted a bit. Then, we left and had lunch together. Later I came back to see Kathy Cano-Murillo, Alexa Westerfield Wolf, and Maya Murillo. I tested out some new products. I'll touch base with them later to play with more products. Thanks to Jennifer Priest's husband for taking this photo of us. It's amazing to meet them all in person, vs only on the internet. I traveled a great distance to get this opportunity to document the show and didn't want to miss out on a little personal time too. I've been teaching a weekly class since September, where we've been using many Tulip products to create artwork. If you aren't familiar with them, definitely check them out. They have great products for altering fabrics and creating your own designs.
Over at Rit Dye, I found Angela Daniels who showed me some of the projects and new products. There were 3D printed chess pieces that had been dyed. If you aren't familiar with 3D printing, it's an important new technology to check out. In the Maker world, it's the hot item, so seeing it in the crafting world is great. One of the designers had sliced, dyed, and hung wood to resemble wind chimes, but in a row. I plan on testing this out at my own home. They have a new thermo-reactive dye for synthetic fabrics. I tested that out and made a flower.
Over at Plaid, Cathie Filian gave me a tour of their new products after I had roamed around the booth and checked out them myself. I use a lot of Plaid products from paints to Mod Podge in my regular crafting. I probably have all of the Mod Podge formulas. They are releasing a Chalky Finish Mod Podge which is ultra matte, a Chalkboard Mod Podge that can go over paint and wood, making anything a chalkboard. They have a chalky finish paint line, Folk Art Home Decor, complete with wax, an antiquing glaze, and tools. I'm hoping to test those out soon. Early tomorrow morning Jenny and I will attend a Plaid media event, which we'll get a better look at the new lines.
To finish off the day, I swung by the Fairfield World booth to see the booth I contributed items to. I got to see Amy in person. I'd met Niki the night before, after dinner with the Craft Test Dummies team. I made a strips curtain and purse for their booth, though the curtain is really for another thing. I got to see the new packaging for Oly*Fun. I'm really digging the pre-cut strips, long rolls, and squares. They have some new multi-packs, which is what the curtain is promoting. More on that much later. I got to meet the owner, who is a really nice guy. They are the great company to work for, and I'm really enjoying designing projects for them. The money I earned working for them, helped pay for my plane tickets and food expenses. Craft Test Dummies covered the hotel, which was nice of Jenny.
Now it's about 10pm California time, but about 1 am East Coast time. It's been a long day and I've seen some wonderful things and hung out with some of my favorite people. I'll have more posts about other things I've seen. The show is HUGE, so there is a lot of ground to cover and things to see. I took a lot of photos of other booths too, but these were my top ones today. More tomorrow. For tonight, I'm ready for bed!

(A version of this is cross-posted to Craft Test Dummies. I was going to write more photo heavy articles for them, but without going into detail, she settled for this style.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ARTWORK: Omar Rayyan

A few months ago I came across the artwork of Omar Rayyan. He's a fantasy artist that uses classic artwork as a reference for whimsical fantasy artwork. The talent and attention to detail is incredible. I recently purchased 5 of his prints. It was hard to narrow down my favorites to just 5. I choose 5 because he has a buy 4, get a 5th free deal on various sizes of prints. It was too good to pass up. Here are the ones I choose. Please check out his Etsy shop Studio Rayyan, Facebook page, and Website.

This was one of the 1st pieces I saw that instantly attracted me to his work. This had been sitting in my shopping cart for a good year until I finally bought it. There is something charming that reminds me of how my daughter holds and adores our large cat Pippi. Pippi can be sweet, but she can also be a biting monster when she wants to be...but never with Alex. 

This was the 2nd piece I saw, which sat in my shopping cart with the other one. There is just something about the old world style mixed with the dolled up monsters that draws me in. It's such a weird combo that I needed it! This reminds me of myself, that weird little girl who grew up loving spooky things and was never normal.

I know squids and octopuses have been very popular the last few years, with the overuse in Steampunk culture. I love water creatures. When I was a little girl (heck, still now) I would swim at the bottom of the pool pretending I was a mermaid. I love going to the beach. There is something calming and enchanting about the water.

If you've known me a while, you might know that I'm a bit obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. My favorite part is when they play croquet, probably because I used to play it as a child with my family. Granted there were no flamingos, cards, and hedgehogs, and we all kept our heads. I might explain my attraction to Alice in Wonderland more in depth eventually. It's sort of a private attachment, but who knows. My other favorite part is the tea party. I used to have those often alone as a child...being the only girl...and I collect tea sets. Aside from that, I like this brunette Alice, as my hair is naturally this color.

A lot of people know I love skulls and anatomy, but what they don't know is that love started with dinosaurs. My favorite dinosaur is that Pterodactyl flying in the background, with my 2nd being Triceratops. I already explained my love of tea parties. I'm also rather fond of adventure stories. Historical expeditions, no matter how inaccurate. Indiana Jones...swoon. I'll hold off the snakes for you. One of my adventure goals is digging for dinosaurs. Someone help me make that happen!

These are the ones I choose, but I'm also fond of several other....which I might add to my collection in the future. I also bought art from a couple other artists, so look out for posts about them when the prints arrive.

LIFE: CHA Mega Show 2015 and Career Goals

Sunday (and if you've been following me on social media) I mentioned attending the CHA Mega Show 2015. For me that's this Friday through Monday, though the event is longer than that. Both of the companies I work for will be there, but what's most important is that I'll be representing Craft Test Dummies while there. Jenny is generously bringing me to report on trends, fashion applications, and new products. This is something I enjoy doing on both Jenny's website Craft Test Dummies and my own blog. I'm looking forward to do this type of work, and also seeing many familiar crafty people I've become friends with over the years. I joke that it's like craft camp...but I've never been to camp. It's more than that to me, and I'm grateful for all the work Jenny has done to make this possible. Look for future posts about attending as a 1st timer as well as the other things I mentioned.

Attending CHA is something that I've wanted to do for a few years, but never felt I was established enough to do so. I reached out to Jenny mid-year to apply to write for her site. While waiting for a response, I had a meeting with a dear friend about my creative goals (several of which I haven't discussed with many people), and figuring out how to make this all happen. Thankfully shortly after Jenny responded and I joined the Craft Test Dummies team. Being able to work for a craft blog, instead of an art blog (Skull-A-Day...which lead to me writing tutorials), has improved my experience in an art I needed it in...CRAFTS! I've been a crafter all of my life, among other things. My career goals are in the craft industry, which is a huge passion for me. One of my goals is a product line (here is me sharing), but I haven't figured out what I want contribute to the craft industry. Being able to review products outside of my normal range (and some inside), helps me figure that bit out. I haven't been public about that, as it's a long term goal and I've barely scraped the surface of figuring that out. This is also where attending CHA helps. I want to see what's available and how it's used. Jenny has helped greatly with that, as I'm able to attend some press and VIP events while there. I'm very business minded, so though I'm looking forward to the social aspect of seeing amazing friends, I'm really there to get work done.

Moving on to another goal, I want to write a series of craft books catering to goth and industrial crafters. This genre probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me well. I've loved macabre stuff for well my whole life. I've always been that weird kid, that only my best friend understood...and well she's been my best friend since we were 7, so that's saying a lot. I'm embracing that...so much that I recently ditched a lot of colorful clothing from my closet. These are things I hadn't worn since I quit working in a corporate job. My style lately is a pretty skirt (that's where the color is normally), a black top (favoring t-shirt because they are easy to craft in), leggings (fleece because it's COLD), fun socks (paired with boots outside) and a cardigan or sweater. This gets me from work to teaching to meetings just find. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll put on some jewelry. If you follow me on social media, you've seen me wearing dramatic makeup. That's for my League of Space Pirates character "Chroma", and not what I normally wear. Though lately if I go out at night with friends, I find it easier to put on that character makeup than the softer stuff I used to wear. Even my husband (and a few other people) said that people have become so accustom to seeing me like that (and I always get positive feedback), that they expect me to look like that when they met me. I might bring some more dramatic makeup with me...but I like to refer to that as attempting day drag. Grey contouring isn't exactly day wear...it's partying in space and at night wear. I'll see what I can do. I'm packing today, so hoping I can fit everything in...equipment, clothing, makeup, shoes...etc.

I'm getting way off topic, back to the book thing. This has been something I've had as a goal for several years, but it wasn't until December that the theme came to me, and I jotted down a few book titles with coordinating info to cover. These sprung to me when I finally figured out what theme to do for my YouTube channel concept...a big reason why it wasn't a priority yet. I want to focus on "Dark DIY", using normal high quality craft products to create gothy crafts. I'm not talking Halloween 24/7, but chic things that many people would like. I've been writing about gothic fashion and creating related projects for several years now. It's time for the next steps, YouTube, books, product line...and who knows what else. At CHA, I want to find a company that can relate to my vision and who wants to work with me to make it happen and I can't be certain if that will happen, but at least I can try. Back to the YouTube videos, I want to have guests. I know a lot of artsy people who I could collaborate with both in RVA and across the USA. Hoping this all works out.

For now, I need to get back to finishing sewing hanging tabs onto my students' art quilts, so they can be hung and displayed the day after I get back. I also need to get my shaggy hair cut and give it a color makeover...hello bleach! ...and brighter red so people can spot me from across the convention center...ok not really, but it needs some help from drab to fab. Maybe purple next...but that's for another post. I hope you all have a fabulous week. See you on the other side...of the country.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

LIFE: Starting the Year Crafty

The last few months have been a whirlwind for me. Back in the summer, I started working for two different websites at about the same time, Craft Test Dummies and Fairfield World. This was fantastic for my creativity, but perhaps not so fabulous for my personal blog, as my mentality is clients before personal. The two other sites stretch my creativity, because I have to build projects around assignments and products. This is a blast to do. Then, when I look at my blog, I'm stumped at what to make for you all, because without that guidance, it's all on me. Which I'm used to and enjoy the complete control I've had for years. I do thrive with collaboration though, and I'm happy to continue down that path of working with other creative minds.

Some of the projects I did for Fairfield World in 2014.

I've had a goal of doing YouTube videos for a couple years now, but up until the end of last year, I didn't have a nice camcorder, so I bought one with money I'd earned from teaching craft classes. For which I'm currently doing again for fun...and well money too. I also bought a desktop computer which was handy because my trusty laptop died a few months later. My old sewing machine also died (I think they were in cahoots), so I bought a replacement for that. Zap went my money, but I was ok with that, because I got some much needed updated equipment. However that didn't leave money for other things I'd need for making videos. Fast forward till late Spring when I started writing for an income (Whoot!). I could finally afford some things I needed. I ordered softbox lights, but they didn't come with the poles to hold them up...still peeved about that. I still need to fix that error. I set aside this goal for a bit, since work was picking up with additional project requests for the Houston Quilt Market. (My grandma was super impressed when I told her about that). As the year closed, I thought about that goal again and made a few attempts to film with what I had. The holidays and projects consumed my time, but I felt guilty for still not accomplishing that goal, though I'd accomplished many. I still have plans to make this work, and even thought of a theme that fits my expertise. I can make many things, but if you've been following me for a while, you know my specialty is things of a darker nature. I decided to focus on "Dark DIY" for my personal project, with the hopes of still keeping the collaborative part by having guests and crafting together. I know a lot of local artists and crafters with a wide range of skills and knowledge to share. I figure I can be more social in a way that makes me comfortable...hanging out at my house and crafting. I plan to set this up in my living room, which has the most natural light. A few months ago, I got my family's old wood drafting table, which has been mucho helpful in crafting in the same room as my family...and watching a lot of Netflix.


At the beginning of 2014, I started organizing and rearranging areas of my home. I've made a lot of progress, but still have a lot of old stuff to purge, donate, sell, and reclaim the space. I have a lot to just toss too. Over years of having depression, I just let it pile up. 2014 was the 1st year in many that I successfully overcame much of my depression. Sure it still hits occasionally, I cry a lot and I'm generally not fun to be around. It's much less than it used to be. This is hugely in part because I set out to reclaim my house from the clutter and distress. I started with the dining room, which got an organizing overhaul (and could use another as it's getting cluttered again in sections because of...well I really have no excuse). Furniture was majorly moved. A cart went downstairs to help with a craft room (which was a playroom and still need major work). A desk came upstairs, for our desktop computer. It's backed by two awesome CD cases that my friend Noah put in my car after he'd had new fancy ones built. This helps organize CDs, but also serves as a hub for commonly used supplies/tools and business stuff. I small cart got made into a printing and equipment cart. I organized all the electronic gadgets and cables. I moved a bookcase to a wall...it was a room divider, but closed off the space too much.

Furniture got shifted around in the living room, so it flowed better. The playroom got purged of many toys. Both to friends and a foster support center where a social worker friend works. They are getting more use than they did by our over privileged daughter...who had grown out of most of the toys at this age. We still have a lot to get rid of, and when I have time, they will be donated to a local LGBTQ thrift store, Diversity thrift. I went through my closet a couple months ago, making a huge pile of colorful clothing that hasn't been worn in over 5 years...I'm embracing my dark side. A lot of heels and other shoes that haven't touched feet in years (some never) got put in the pile. While I want to sell a lot of those to a local second hand shop that buys clothing to resell, many will be donated to that same LGBTQ thrift store. Besides it being an awesome group and wanting to keep people looking fabulous with my gently worn wardrobe, I do fit into that spectrum. Where doesn't matter much. It's a group that is close to my heart. Besides donating stuff there, I've done a fair amount of shopping both there and Goodwill. Goodwill of course helps people with disabilities, who don't get paid much, but Diversity is run by mostly volunteers. I don't support Salvation Army in any way, since they are anti-LGBTQ, which would include myself. My giving away my old things to others who need them, not only gives me more space, but warms my little dark heart...well you know red and muscley like everyone elses...sort of.

Some of the projects I did for Craft Test Dummies product reviews.

Moving forward in the year, I knew that working for Craft Test Dummies might give me the opportunity to attend CHA's Mega Show. I do enjoy playing with new products and testing them out, which is why I applied to write for Craft Test Dummies. Attending the show is nice bonus. On Friday I board a plane to CA to attend the show. This was HUGE goal of me, after years of seeing these amazing photos, stories, and videos from the shows. I can officially check that one off my goals list...well when I land I suppose. I'm am overwhelmed with excitement to see so many amazing crafters that I've gotten to know over the years both on Facebook and YouTube. Though I might not have made my own craft videos yet, I have been a dedicated YouTube subscriber for several years...mostly craft and beauty channels. For me this is me successfully achieving a goal that I set out to do last year, and set myself on the path to really achieve, about 6 months ago. I stepped out of my comfort zone and depression to make my life goals happen. This wasn't easy. There have been a lot of rough days...like the panic attack when those fairy wings wouldn't fit into my sewing machine to finish them. I took a break and then sewed them together by hand. The good days heavily outweigh all the bad. Many years ago, Noah told me how amazed he was that I was humble about my talents. Though I still am in many ways, because I have no basis for comparison what other crafters are capable of, I have a lot more confidence in what I'm able to reasonably accomplish. I'm happy to take on a challenge and adapt quickly to new things. There's a saying "Fake it till you make it." I did exactly that, learned along the way, and have some amazing experiences because of taking a risk. The worst someone could tell me is "No". I still have a lot to learn, but that's just life. I hope it's a neverending stream of new experiences, so I never stop yearning to learn.

In turn, I've reached a point where I've learned so much and written so many tutorials (I'm thankful for Skull-A-Day and Noah giving me a reason to start doing those), that I've been teaching classes. Since September, I've been teaching a Art Quilts program with Art180 (a local non-profit that helps with after school art classes within the community) at Northstar Academy (a school for special needs kids from K-12). I have high school age students, an assistant and two of their teachers to help with any of the kids needs outside of my skills. It's been lots of fun and the students have made amazing work. They are a great bunch of kids. While I'm off to CHA in a few days, I have a final class with them this week where they'll finish prepping for their gallery show. The show is the day after I return from CHA. I'll be jet lagged and off in time zone, but more importantly be there for my students to show off their work. The week after we'll have a big party at their school to celebrate their achievements. I'll miss them terribly. I'm hoping to teach a book making class in the Spring, with Art180 and another great group of kids. I want to focus on overcoming negative circumstances, which is something I was finally able to do, providing myself with confidence and the ability to help others be happier.


To conclude, here is my student Adeline's quilt. The girl is her. the bottom of this quilt panel is covered in smiley faces. Despite your circumstances, always make time to smile. Also make time for crafting. Even 15 minutes a day. Stick a little sketchbook and pencil into your bag or pocket. Break those out during lunch, waiting rooms, waiting for family to get ready, waiting for a meal to cook...any part of the day where you have a few minutes free. Set aside some time to be creative. SCHEDULE IT! Make stuff with your friends and family. Crafts and cocktails anyone? Family craft night!!! Your toddler can rock some glue, a cotton swab, and paper shapes. Playdoh, pudding paint, watercolors, and other non-toxic crafts are great too. The older the kids get, the more skills they will have and the harder things they will try. You should see the things my daughter makes. She's figured out how to make amazing journals, and duct tape items, which aren't crafts I do! She does her own thing, because she's gained a lot of confidence over the years. We both make jewelry, and she's been bugging me to let her on my sewing machine. You'll be surprised at what you learn about yourself and your skills. If you are having trouble finding time and motivation to be creative, check out my crafty friend Jennifer's "Making Matters" campaign on her blog Hydrangea Hippo. She'll give you all sorts of advice from creating to reorganizing. Being creative reduces your stress level, gives you confidence, expands your skills, and makes you happier. It also leads to craft hoarding...but you can never have too much glitter. Whatever craft you choose, have fun with it. Happy Makery!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

YEAR IN REVIEW: Top 14 Tutorials of 2014

I've created a lot of tutorials this year for my blog, Fairfield World and Craft Test Dummies. These are the top 14 tutorials of 2014 on my blog. I don't have a way of tracking them on collaborative sites. On with the show!


14. Basic Pendant
This basic jewelry tutorial is a great base for many jewelry projects.

13. Beaded Applique Fascinator
This is a great way to make a fancy fascinator by using a beaded applique and some basic sewing skills.

12. Ombre Lips with NYX Macaroon Lippies
This is my 1st real makeup tutorial and beauty product review.

11. Lace Applique Cuff
Using a lace applique and some basic jewelry skills, a cuff was born!

10. Lace Applique Necklace
Same goes for this necklace. I have to figure out where I put these two pieces, so they can get worn!

9. Striped Bow with OlyFun
This was my 1st tutorial for Fairfield World, which lead to being on their design team.

8. Makeup Brush Roll
This was part of a handmade gifts blog hop, so it got a lot of traffic. It is the 1st more advanced sewing tutorial I created for my blog.

7. Faux Leather Tissue Paper Treatment
This treatment became something I used for several projects throughout the year.

6. Miniatures Pendant Necklaces
Another basic jewelry making tutorial. I need to wear these more often, but the sewing machine and tray have been worn a few times.

5. Jem and the Holograms Earrings
Did this movie ever come out? Something tells me no. Either way, these earrings are still totally outrageous!

4. Faux Geode Jewelry
This was my 1st tutorial in collaboration with Craft Test Dummies. That partnership has worked out well, as I'm attending CHA next week with the Craft Test Dummies team. 

3. Pop Art Bag
This bag was very POPular. It's pretty fabulous if I do say myself.

2. Weeping Angel Costume
I was pleasantly surprised at how popular my daughter's Halloween costume was both online and in person. She had a blast wearing it and getting lots of positive feedback.

1. Glitter Kitty Cat Flats
My 1st tutorial of 2014 was my most viewed of 2014. It helps that it was featured on Make and Dollar Store Crafts. I hope lots of people made these! Shoe tutorials always seem to be popular, so perhaps I should do more of those.

I hope to collaborate with more companies to bring you all a bigger variety of tutorials. It's been a wonderfully creative year, which set me on a path to make this a real lifetime career. I hope you all had a successful year doing what you love. Happy Makery!
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular Posts