The craftings of a shadowy figure...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do NOT Open Until Christmas!!!

So I finished one of my Christmas gifts...but I can't show you.  No I'm not lying - it's the off chance that they'll look at this post.

The last time that I kept someone from peeking at their gift...I chased my sister out of the room, she slid on the runner in the hallway and had to get stitches.  Nothing says, "Merry Christmas Mom" like sisterly head trauma!

The nurse or PA (whomever stitched my sister's head up) decided that I had to watch her get stitched up as penance.  I couldn't make that up.

I refused to let it bother me out of stubbornness.  Yet, somehow, I'm sure as I get old this will manifest into a cautionary Christmas tale like: 'If you don't leave cookies for Santa, an elf will slash your tires before Easter'...or something like that...

So even though I want to show you my finished project...I'll wait until after Christmas.

I am sorry to make you wait - but trust me there is no need for any of us to have to watch a good old fashioned stitching up - again...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Did you pack these yourself?

Happy Thanksgiving!

In my last post, I promised to Halloween-ify the Holidays this year.  What was I thinking?

Thanksgiving snuck up like a pick-pocket.

I went through several ideas that just didn't stick.  How in the world does one make Thanksgiving more gruesome than Giblets and salmonella laced stuffing?

You take some home with you for food poisoning at your convenience, that's how!

So to help the preservation of gastrointestinal distress,  I made a little take home box just for you!

Just print, cut & enjoy!  There is even space on the side for your victim/loved one's name...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Contingency Plan:

To be honest I'm more than disappointed with myself.

I bit off more than I could chew.  I had plans for quite a few Halloween projects but then I decided to spend all my free time working overtime...

My crafting has seriously suffered.

It is time to regroup.  So where to?

In an attempt to focus I am going to Halloween-ify the Holidays this year.
Um, yes I did just make up a word.
And for you super sleuths- I will be using some of those projects that didn't get worked out in time for Halloween.

So here goes nothing.  Yup, I'm putting it out there.
Since I have no choice but to deliver now that I clued you into what I'm up to...I had better get to work on the Thanksgiving project.

How does stuffing from leftover Halloween candy sound?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

And Now Ladies & Gentlemen...

So while the decor sets the mood for Halloween in all honesty the main attraction is the costumes!

We made the costumes for the most part in my family.  Now, I am all too happy to supplement with store bought pieces but it just feels like cheating to buy the whole thing.

No, there is no soapbox sermon on the sanctity of the do-it-yourself spirit of Halloween...thats just the fun of Halloween for me.

This is one of the first Halloween costumes I made myself.  I was Lydia from the Beetle Juice cartoon.

To be honest most people don't trick or treat all that long, but I've never been able to quit!  My costumes have just gotten more involved, like a pearl studded ruff and a medieval double henin.

So please buy good candy this year...I'll be by.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Porch

Halloween is the ultimate occasion for crafting.

The porch was my very own Macy's window to design for the month of October.  The walls were covered with black plastic.

Our blow-up skeleton was dressed as an old pirate and propped up on the porch swing.  He was granted an empty 2-liter that I labeled with the notorious Triple X poison insignia to swig on.  Mom handled the spider-webs due to my apparent height challenge.

My sister would be talked into blowing up a bulbous vinyl bat.  She does not share my affinity for Halloween....especially when it comes to skeletons...but even she gets into the spirit.

It wasn't professional and it wasn't perfect, but October has been ours to design.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Once I'm done...I'll find it...

I always seem to run into the obstacle during my projects that the very thing that I want or need to complete my idea seems impossible to find.

Take for instance the baby wreath I'm currently working on: I am trying to find a little cat stuffed animal.  Think Beenie-baby size.  I don't even care about the color.

How naive to think that was possible!  They do NOT exist.  Walmart, Target, Goodwill, ToysRUs.  Nope, nada, niet.

Sure there are stuffed cats but none of them are simple.  I found stuffed toys larger than myself, cats smaller than my pinkie, even some that sing and light up.  Not what I need.

But this is nothing new.  This has always been an element of my projects and, to be fair, sometimes my compromises create a better outcome.

Exhibit A:
My Dorothy costume

Waaaaaaaay back when this picture was taken, there weren't red sparkly shoes available.  So my Mom and I made some.   We took an old pair of dress shoes, sprayed them red and once that dried, dabbed on some white glue and covered that with red glitter.  I promise you, Dorothy Gale's shoes weren't as nice as mine!

Now I swear they show up every October...

But I really wouldn't have appreciated my costume as much if my Mom would have just bought the shoes.

So while I hope that I don't have to sew my own cat toy, I may think of something better by the time I'm done.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It starts young...Update...

Ha, Ha!  I found it!

There is the 'Horse Shoe Toss' booth complete with cardboard horse-shoes, billows & damaged wagon wheels.

'Well crafted' Mom!

P.S. -
My Mom thinks I'm crazy for posting this!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It starts young

Seeing as how today the temperature dropped a merciful 2 degrees I find myself daydreaming about one of my earliest craft memories.

Picture if you will an early October day.  My family is heading to school, on a Saturday.  The parents are busy on a committee.  They're planning the school Carnival and everyone is there to help, kids too.

On the way my sister and I score a happy meal.  The usual colorful box has been festively replaced with an orange pumpkin grinning at the chance to show off it's insides...which happened to be a blissfully greasy kids' meal.

In my third grade sized world the school Carnival was only third to Christmas and Summer vacation.  I was excited to be a part of the commotion.  The fun has always been being a part of the buzz of getting ready.  I still feel that way, I'm better at setting the party up than being a guest.  The fun is in figuring it all out and making things work with whatever you have on hand followed by the pride of making that last minute Hail-Mary pass the actual thing everyone liked the most.

Each class had to help with a booth and each booth was a certain game: the ping-pong ball toss, speed throw and face-painting.  The booths were simple wooden frames, the walls were made of heavy-duty paper and each was decorated colorfully.

That year my class had the horse shoe toss booth. I helped my Mom as she painted two horses looking back as if whomever was tossing the horse-shoes was in the stable.  The stable 'doors' created the toss line.  The whole Carnival was a massive creative effort.  

It was magical watching strings of bare-bulb lights and bunches of balloons transform our school parking lot.  The idea that you could make almost anything work with a screw gun, duct tape, acrylic paint and imagination became a part of my very being in those afternoons.

So as fall flirts with its real arrival I'm reminded I should keep that glue gun handy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sure Thing...

I've often thought while elbow deep in a friend's gift the night before I had to hand it over - it was either really bold or really stupid to make a gift for someone.

God forbid I mess up or I make something they hate...

I have seen the aftermath of hideous crafting bestowed on a recipient too kind or too practiced to recoil.  (To be fair -gasp- I'm sure I must have been the bearer of such a present!)

Speaking of being on the verge of yet another gift being given an honorary space in the back of someone's hall closet: It was my Mamacita's b-day this weekend.  Since I was at a loss of what to get her, I decided to go with a sure thing.


Oh yeah - Halloween.

My Mom loves Halloween as much as I do.  So a Halloween themed gift is as close to a safe bet as I could get.

So of course I ignored common sense and made her something.

Well honestly, I only made a part of it.  I found a panel with a Halloween apron printed on it which really spurred the theme.

The directions were sparse to be I improvised.

The material was a bit thin so I doubled it and made the straps thinner but more sturdy.

I ran the straps along the curved edges at the top of the apron since I knew the stitches would be visible.  Also I hoped it would be sturdier than simply stitching the edges.

I think she liked it...I'll know once I check the hall closet!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What a Life-Saver!

So I don't always feel that a Thank You note is enough.  That is actually what spurred this project.  I was in need of some assistance translating a call.  A girl down the hallway came to my rescue.  However, she worked in a tremendously busy office and she only worked part time so I never figured out her schedule.

I decided to leave something little on her desk so that whenever she came in - she would know that I appreciated her help.

I came up with this little swimmer to thank her for being a Life-Saver.

Here is how I put my Life-Saver Thank You together:
I drew out my swimmer making sure she was long enough to cover the candy roll.

Because I was drowning in an office of these CD Labels, I realized the small circle would be perfect for a life-preserver for my Candy Swimmer.

I colored in the swimmer template to look like my Life-Saver down the hall.

I cut out the circle for the center of a CD label and cut slits all around the center to ease it onto the candy roll.

Cut small slits and test that your life-preserver will fit snugly around the candy roll - you can always cut a little more if necessary.

If the Life-Saver Thank You is being left somewhere it may face a little moving around it may be helpful to tape your swimmer to the candy roll.

Now my picture shows the tabs so you can see how it really looks when it's put together but by all means trim down your tabs but be careful to leave a little so the life-preserver stays in place.

Also - depending on where you leave your Life-Saver Thank You, you can bend your candy swimmer's legs to sit on a desk or dangle off the side.

In about a half an hour - you can write a thank-you note or you can really let someone know they were a Life-Saver.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Real Names Withheld...

So there were a lot of little things that really made my sister's wedding really turn out so well but one of my favorite projects was kind of random. 

The wedding had decor but I decided to use a logo... 

The venue was absolutely serve yourself and my sister and her fiance used a local restaurant to cater but they only set up the food.  So the problem was that we would be a little too distracted to rely on clearing the tables ourselves.

So my idea was to hire some of my youngest sister's friends from school (8th grade) to help clear plates and make sure water and tea were always available as well as handing out Wedding cake after it was cut.  Yes, yes it was child labor.  But there were cash and prizes...

Each kid got a gift bag with candy and a movie and most importantly their uniform..

I made t-shirts and hats with a logo with the last names and the wedding date.  I got a cousin to help me by altering a piece of clip art.  I figured it would make it clear they were helping with the wedding, and then maybe people would be comfortable with the whipper-snapper stealing their left-overs off the table. 

(The last names that go across the banner were erased in this picture - to protect true identities...)

Ended up that the groom liked the hat better than our helpers but at least it was still worn!

Monday, August 2, 2010

There's always strings...

She phoned me distraught - "I don't have the dough:  I'm doing everything myself and these little 'details' are something I can't handle."  

This shindig was to take place 7-6-07. 

I was already booked.   

There was a lot to do and I had a boat to catch.

The money was dragging her feet on all the details.

So I gave it to her straight, "Listen, sister - I can waive my fee but it's still gonna cost you.  Handling these situations requires - well some know how and Know-How ain't free.  I'm gonna have to grease some palms and that's where you come in see.  I'm gonna need some moola to make this happen."

I could tell she was biting her lip as she agreed.

Really she was bringing me in for those creative details.

Working on no budget, little input and no time I would definitely have to get creative.

Like any of these jobs there were plenty of strings attached and this was no exception.  This thing was going to happen at an up and up community club.  I'd have to get in and out of there with out any tell-tale signs. 
And those types notice everything.

My normal tricks weren't enough...

I scanned the shops and racked my brain.

I lucked out at a local shop that was willing to sell me some display pieces that might go a long way.

In fact I was able to score some extras that I knew would fit the bill of on easy clean-up.  Of course they needed a little touch-up.

Now like I said , I had a boat to catch.  I had booked another job for the three weeks right before this deadline.

I set up what I could but it would come down to a few hours before showtime when everything came together.

...just the kind of case I like...

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Day After...

Little did I know that the festivities for my birthday did not end on my actual birthday...oh no - there was more planned.

In fact a crafty friend had something more up her sleeve.  A crafty friend who would not tell me what we were doing.

At first I was taunted with directives like putting on a prom gown...

I was game.  I'd do it. I would even bring out one for her.

Luckily - I let her off the hook and the bluff was not called...
Since it was my birthday I was feeling generous. 
 All formalities, err - formal gowns out of the way, I was whisked away for some 'creative juice' my mind was racing.  What were we going to do???  What kind of hazing was this?

The creative juice ended up being Starbucks and our destination was a paint your own pottery place!

Now I love going to those places - but I blank.  I can never decide what to do.  I break out in a cold sweat and while I'm staring at the stencil rack like there's an eclipse - everyone else in my group is done and the girl behind the counter is asking if she can clean my paint tray.

I had to think of something and quickly. 
    "Here!", my friend said.

A travel mug interrupted my memorization of the ceramic bowls and kitten figurines.

So in a spark of desperation I decided to use the Starbucks cup as my inspiration.
Simple - green, off white, black.  I was finally going to finish with everyone else!

Cut to employees clearing the cups of cloudy paint filled water and my friend paying.  And where am I you ask? 

At the table sneaking in finishing touches...

So much for a quick execution.

But while I will always be the last kid at the craft table...I know I have to take the project home.  So I have to like it!

And I have to say, I do!

Friday, July 9, 2010

This day was unavoidable.

But opening my eyes this weekend '30' was there blasting the ugly wake-up call of old age.

I was determined to go about my day as though none of this aging business was upon me.
Playing hookie from work, I went out and got some ridiculously decadent coffee and decided to do some Goodwilling.

But it was there between the racks skirting the edge of the shadows panting and snarling with bloodshot eyes.
I hoped doing something productive like grocery shopping would take my mind off of this loathsome stalker.
Yet while buying wine at the grocery store the 80 year old cashier smirked as she handled my license.
    "Well, you're older than I thought", the blue-black bouffant punctuated the word older.

Whether it was the whole bottle of wine or the old age, I was pleasantly surprised to end my day with dinner at my favorite eclectic seafood restaurant.

But amidst cheesy photo ops and smoked fish dip, I received the kiss of death...
Nestled among the fanfare and well-wishes was a birthday card from my arch-nemesis.

The card spared no gentleness in emblazoning my place in the sordid caste system of the craft world.  

    "I'll assume you spent your day cross-stitching as now you are old"

I was trapped and unable to look away any longer - adulthood had me firmly in it's clutches.I suppose it was a fair and easily afforded revenge after last year's Munny decapitation cake but the stark sentiment sucker-punched me.
With no exit, begrudgingly I take my scarlet lettered sweatshirt of old-age craftiness.  I leave behind the lanyard bracelets and baby-food jar snow globes of childhood craftiness in search of ladies' auxiliary craft shows and spoon cozies. 

There is nothing to be done other than to grab my Maxine mug and start plotting my nemesis's next insultingly bad birthday gift.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hmmm...shoulda had this done already...

So just when I thought I was through the most recent wave of baby showers...I realized I didn't take care of one.

Heehee -- whooops...

And so this week I'll set things right and get some fancy baby onesies drawn up and sent off!  I mean it's not like the kid won't come out if I don't hook 'em up.  Actually that's pretty presumptuous to assume the little one even wants to wear one of these.  Then again, it's destined to be puked on, among other things...

So, this is what I'll be working on this week!  Onesies just beg to be drawn on in my opinion.  Honestly babies grow so quickly that even if Mamacita isn't a fan of your art, the baby will probably only be able to wear it once anyway.  But you should stop by regularly juuuuuust to be sure they get a little air-time.

These are a few onesies that I made for my little cousin:

I told you -- I worry about making boy stuff too girlie so a dinosaur seemed like a safe bet!

Of course some humor makes sure Dad will slip at least one of your creations on the wee one.

And of course, storybook and nursery rhyme characters are always a welcome addition amongst all the, 'Mommy's Little Angel' and 'Poop Happens' themed gifts.'s back to the drawing board for me -- just in case that kid does hold out for some onesies...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So Speaking of Craft Fails...

 A craft gone wrong can ruin your reputation in the blink of an eye. If this happens you might as well start crocheting cake cozies with cat hair - 'cause your projects will be banished to the depths of the rows of folding tables at women's club craft fairs.

(Yeah, yeah - I can hear the hate mail now...but if I see one more clown hugging a pot of cacti or faceless pantyhose child facing a wall a'la The Blair Witch help me the Happy Painter gets it!)  

So, uh, cough cough - I mentioned the Craft Fail website in my last it's only fair to show you one of my fails.

Meet the Munny cake - duhn, duhn ,duhhhhh!

It began well enough - I even did a little research.  How to make your own pan.  Scratch that - I had gotten to that point because I had tried my shaky little hand at carving pound cake into the shape I wanted with unnerving results.  So I went about looking for tips to use any object to form your own pan.
But as soon as I introduced cake batter into my foil shell it burst like a cheap swim toy.

Soooo I had the bright idea to use cast material over the foil to better define the shape and give the batter some support.

 All I can tell you is that no amount of icing made this acceptable.  None!

My stupid pride be damned I should have bought a lovely card from the Dollar Tree.

But I couldn't bring myself to abandon all my hard work!  I choose to give this monstrosity and in turn I created a craft-nemesis...

Take heed my craft cupcakes:
Your crafting can be your undoing!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What Next?

 I've been thinking about what I want to work on next...alright, I'll quit lying.  I'm trying to figure out what additional project I'll be working on next.  Because to be perfectly honest, I never work on just one project at a time.

One thing I really want to try is doing some clothing reconstruction.  Partly out of necessity (I'm 5'1" - not even petite clothes are made for me!) but also because I'm impressed with some of the cool stuff people do with the plain old pieces they're bored with.  To be honest with you it doesn't take me long to get bored with the stuff I wear everyday to work not to mention all those t-shirts that I rock all weekend.

But to be terribly honest the idea of altering my clothes scares me.  It's something about the permanence...
Of course some of the pics on sites like this:   - don't help! 

The closest thing that I've really done to something that I wear regularly is this shirt that I got from a consignment shop.

I thought the shirt was cute but as you can see it had fantastically ugly sleeves...
Those suckers HAD to go.

So I brought out the seam ripper and removed the ruffle.  It was a little tricky because it was well done and I had to make sure not to rip all of the stitching out.

Since it was just a surged edge I rolled the sleeves.

Muuuuuuch I won't look like I'm playing pretty pretty princess...

I really need to find some easy projects that can break me in slowly to re-fashioning.  Of course all those other projects are the perfect distraction - at least until I find a project I can't refuse...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Baby Bento Box

Since I'm showing off baby gifts, I found one that I made awhile ago for a friend's first baby.

It really started with a cute little memory book of baby's first and I thought it would be a good idea to have something to collect all those firsts.  I came up with a memory box with separate boxes for different keepsakes. 

I attached the memory book to the box lid with ribbon. I glued one end of a length of white ribbon inside the box lid and attached velcro on the other side.  I covered the spot where I attached the velcro to the ribbon with a small wooden star.  

The added challenge was the fact that I had no idea if it was going to be a boy or a girl...
So I decided to go with a star theme.  I painted a wooden keepsake box a light yellow and embellished it with white ribbon and rub-on stars.

I painted the smaller boxes white and trimmed each box with thin yellow ribbon.  Each box was titled with a sharpie and embellished with the rub-on stars. 
(I have to give credit to my Mom for her lovely handwriting!)
The smaller boxes correspond with pages in the baby book.

The book had pages for news from when the baby was born.

There was a page for everyone's inspirations and suggestions for names for the baby.

It included space for keepsakes like the bracelet from the hospital.

Then there were places to record baby's first impressions.

And who could forget the first tooth and the curl from the first haircut!

It took a little (ok, a lot!) of maneuvering and switching out box sizes and shapes to get them all to fit in the large box.  ...I'm probably on some watch list at Michael's...  But eventually I got the combination and got everything to fit just right.

So now that my friend is due with her second little one...I guess I had get to work again!