The craftings of a shadowy figure...

Monday, December 5, 2011


Honestly I've been overwhelmed for a little while.

A lot has gone on:

I moved into my first home.  

I failed on a costume that I promised to someone.  I succeeded on a different costume.

I eloped.

(Yes, this is a real picture of where you apply for the marriage license...please note the Mental Health office is directly across from the license counter.)
I started an entirely new job.

I just haven't been able to catch up.  

I've tried to do the last 3 Iron Craft challenges without success.  So while I try gain my footing please let me know if you have any tips for getting me going in a creative direction again!    

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halloween Challenge

This week's Iron Craft Challenge was a Halloween theme.

Eeeekkkk!!!!   I LOVE Halloween.

But I'm a bit sad because I'm not starting a new project for this challenge.  I'm in the middle of conquering some costume requests.

So I only have process pics to contribute this week.

You see I am firmly in that spot where you start trying to figure out why it worked in your head because your hands don't seem to be able to comply.

I am making a Jake costume & a Skully costume from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

First, finding the correct colors has been a trick on it's own.
It has always happened that when I need cobalt colored pants, they don't exist.  At least not until the next month when I am bombarded with them everywhere I go.

Secondly, the Skully costume is proving to be a challenge that continues to send me back to the drawing board repeatedly.

For instance:  when I placed the feathers I cut, I realized that the chest feathers really ought to be smaller.
So I tried four different kinds (the orange feathers are the test feathers) and got back to cutting.

No matter what, I have to make these costumes work.  I'll just pretend Tim Gunn is standing over my shoulder.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shear Style

This past week Iron Craft posted the challenge to come up with something that could be entered into a State Fair craft competition.

Have I mentioned that I'm in my sister's spare room...I sure as hell am not in a position to make jam.
Ok, I have no idea how to make jam, but that's besides the point.

I also have no idea how to cross-stitch, knit or crochet.

So I was at a loss.  A serious loss.

Between consulting one of my crafty cousins, drawing 2 pages of ideas and a couple of days research online, I came up with this...

Why City Slickers Shouldn't Shear Sheep...

I know, I'm not right...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All Grown Up

I am a mommy.  The fact that I don't have any children yet is just a technicality.

My youngest sister was born when I was 12.  And I doted on her.  If I held her in public, people gave me ugly looks since they thought I was a 12 year old with a baby. Ha, when she got a little older she thought it was funny to call me Mommy in public.  Punk.  My Grandmother used to laugh at me and call me 'Little Mama'.

When I started college she started kindergarten.  And when I left something my Mom told me haunted me. My Mom was the second oldest of seven kids and she said that the youngest kids don't really remember her being around.  I couldn't have that.  I never wanted my baby sister to feel like I wasn't there.

I sent her notes occasionally and would come up with random little gifts for occasions like 'back to school'. I helped to throw a murder-mystery birthday party.  I came up with crazy Christmas and Birthday gifts.

Yesterday she started college.

Of course I gave her a little bag full of cute and useful could I not?

I packed a tote bag with a few books that I found helpful in the maze of being on my own.  You could say it's a little road map for the inevitable twists and turns.  This 'Map Journal' was tucked in with the other books to help keep track of her travels.

I gave her the little 'flat tire' road side assistance card holder that I made in one of the Iron Craft Challenges.


You know, for the bumps in the road.

I threw in a little bottle of sparkling apple cider to celebrate her new beginning.  And I made her a Passport cover so she can travel in style.

I guess this gift was kind of a carry on bag for her journey.  Ahh, corny...I know.

To be honest, I'm a little lost.  She isn't a tiny little thing that looks forward to my crazy gifts anymore, but I think she may still get a few crazy care packages anyway...

Good Luck Mantha, have a great 'trip'!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Last Leg

Staying with my sister while I wait for a house has been both a blessing and a challenge.  Craft space and my internet connection not to mention my sister's sanity have suffered heavily.

She has been a saint for not throwing me out yet.

In the meantime, however, I have neglected my poor Craft Noir.  I am fighting on though!  The guilt from missing any week at Iron Craft KILLS I cut out cute amuguri food from chibi wrapping paper on breaks at work for memory cards...

and iced a QR code on a brownie amid a sea of 3 circling dogs.  And while Craft Noir has suffered, I've at least chronicled those forays on my Flickr page.

I admit, I'm not super impressed with most of these efforts but I still have felt the need to try each one.  It is shocking when someone likes one of my handicapped attempts.  It's a good lesson that I can't prejudge my projects before they're presented.  But that is it's own catch-22.  I wouldn't be 'done' with a project unless I thought it was good.

It's interesting when you have something mapped out in your head and it ends up NOTHING like you matter how many attempts were made.  I recently had one of those weeks.  Everything that I touched rebelled.  Even though I've been slinging art projects together that were perched on the back of the toilet tank and blinked through waterfalls of sweat on the back porch as I tied up finishing touches I've genuinely been so determined to attempt the craft that none of that mattered.  Yet after the week of rebellion, I needed a break.  I pondered the Iron Craft and not even a last minute 'Hail Mary Pass' appeared.  The tank was out of gas.

I regrouped and reassured myself it was ok to temporarily flunk out.  Not that I believed that.  I am still trying to think of my make-up project!  But nothing seemed suitable, so I cleaned and read and didn't craft.

I am happy to report this week I was able to jump back in; this week's challenge was Sculpture.

But I am definitely hitting that last stretch.  I am supposed to find out about the house soon.  I really pray that this house doesn't  prove to be just a mirage.  I am already fantasizing about my craft room. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Don't Sit Too Close...

I'll admit, I think I prefer to be near people when I craft because I have a hard time getting started.  When I'm in a group I can build off of what someone else is doing over here and tweak an idea someone over there put down...

This week's Heritage challenge at Iron Craft has been no different.

I was plugging away - researching Heraldry.  (I feel like I need a PHD to master that!)  And my sister sits next to me and sketches out her own.  Just:  Blam! Done. Check this out.


But -- I got another idea from the sketch she made right across my page of notes.

I'm going to use her sketch to decorate her Graduation gift!

SO, the next time I sit next you to craft -- be careful.  You may see that quick sketch show up again.  Bwooo-ha-ha-ha-ha! ...AhAhAhem...  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Suitable For All Ages

I've been trying to find a simple way of creating something I had when I was younger and it has proved to be a challenge.  To begin with, I didn't/don't know what they are properly called.  Secondly, I wasn't interested in going about it the 'correct' way.

You caught me...I found a tutorial.  It was a lovely tutorial with pretty pictures.  But I don't want to sew a zipper, or a pocket.  Ok, I wasn't looking forward to sewing such a detailed project at all - I wanted to cheat.

After several ideas that were probably more difficult and time consuming than the very tutorial I was avoiding, I gave myself a 'Keep It Simple Stupid' talking to.

This is what I came up with:

Buy and wash a pillowcase(or grab an old one).  (The pillowcase I purchased was a set and it was the fancy hypo-allergenic kind.  That's not necessary but I think the plastic lining in the pillow may have helped keep the dye from seeping through to the other side as it dried.)

Decorate said pillow case(s).  Decorate the bottom half of the pillow case as the top part will not be seen.

I tried the fabric dye in a spray bottle.  It is a bit unwieldy - I'd advise wearing paint clothes or an apron when spraying.  However, the dye came off of my hands pretty quickly.  Also I'd only use this type of paint/dye if you are looking for a flowy kind of design.  As you can see the dye seeped under my tape and bled around my design.  I was going for a watercolor look so it's ok but I still may go back and do some touching up though.

Fold the top of the pillow case down into the pillow case itself.
(With your design facing you, open your pillowcase.  Take the top corners and pull them down into the open pillow case until they meet their prospective inside bottom corners.  Straighten any wrinkles so that the top two corners are now folded neatly inside of your pillow case.)

Stuff pillow case(s) with batting or a pillow form or an old pillow that needs some dressing up.  I filled the decorated side with batting and tucked the undecorated edge back down over the stuffing.  You could add some velcro or stitch in some tiny snaps at the bottom of the pillow if you would like to secure it better.  (My pillow case is the type with a zipper on the top edge so once I stuffed the pillow with batting I zipped the case close and smoothed the zipper along the bottom seam of the case to hold the batting in place.)

If you use batting as I did, it may be necessary to straighten the lumps behind your design.

Your pillow case should now have a snug little pocket.

I would be a great spot to hide a little note for someone or tuck away your super-secret candy stash -- though I wouldn't advise that.  I'm using mine to hide the PJs that would other wise be tossed on my bed.

So in case you were looking for a no-sew PJ pocket that is suitable for someone over 5, you're welcome.
Actually, this would make a good sleep-over craft.  It was easy and with some simple prep work it's quick.  And as you can see from my super paint job -- well it's something a 5 year old could do.

In all honesty, this was easy enough that I may never try that lovely tutorial...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What the *Peep*?!?!

The Iron Craft challenge this week was Peeps.

Ah yes, the sugar coma disguised as a sparkly hand-held farm animal.

The possibilities were as plentiful as the crystals coating the catatonia causing confections.

Unable to decide, I crafted several versions.

The Peep Bite Headband comes from the pleasure in only biting a chunk out of the Peep rather than stuffing the dead-eyed dessert into your mouth whole.

(At least for the 1st Peep of the season.)

The bite mark was cute but it needed something more.

The face helped.  But it was still going to be a bit plain on it's own.
So I gave it some flair...

But the minimum wasn't enough - so I threw on a little more.

And et viola'! this little Peep is ready for the big day.

Thankfully there is no need to worry about this little sucker melting!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Confucius Say ~

Cracking open my fortune cookie from yet another dinner out of a box, I grimaced.  According to Confucius, not even he thought I had a chance of finding this skirt.  

"People who don't know where they are going usually wind up somewhere else."  

Apparently I needed a better lucky charm.  It had been weeks and not a peep from this deadbeat dame.  A few graveyard shifts at the Warm-up wasn’t giving me anything either.  This skirt might as well have been a ghost.  
I wasn’t feeling like a ghost story, at least not telling one.  I was looking forward to getting paid.

I was going to have to do a stakeout.  I hated stakeouts.  Terrible locations, limited resources and usually winding up somewhere I didn't intend to go.  

No use fighting it - it was time to pack.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Luck of the Irish?

Artistically speaking there is a school of thought that, "How can you know if you've gone too far if you haven't gone far enough".

Everything I touched this week has been a specter of that expression.
I have been near madness multiple times with everything I touched this week:  a wedding gift that won't be wrapped, my Iron Craft projects(both of them), even just trying to keep track of my Michael's coupon.

So, I can't speak of the luck of the Irish, even though I'm only partly Irish.  I would have thought that counted for something.  However, the only luck I seem to be having is in not catching anything on fire...yet.

Example Numero Uno: Iron Craft 11-project 1.
The theme was green.  No I didn't want to think 'out of the box'; I figured I'd enjoy making something kitschy for St. Patrick's day.  Besides you can only wear the party-store Shamrock earrings and the plastic ring that came off of last year's cupcake for so long.

I dug back to the 1960's Disney gem, Darby O'Gill and the Little People for inspiration.

Of course I like that movie!

There is a dark and stormy night and a Banshee and the Coiste Bodhar make oh so creepy appearances.  True, it scared the crap out of me when I was little but there was always something cool about that part.

So for this project I grabbed a T-shirt from Goodwill.  And scoured online for decent Darby O' Gill images.
So far so good.  I even found a screen-shot from an extra that was a Disney badge looking graphic that says, "I caught the King of the Leprechauns".

This really should have been easy...

But I didn't think to flip the image so that the writing would come out correctly.
I figured that little gem out AFTER printing the main image for the back and the 'badge' for the front.  The badge however, was small enough that I could print a redo on the same sheet.

Have no fear!  I had 1 piece of Iron-On paper left...

Too bad the printer ran blue streaks down the right side of the sheet.

I mean "Thats ok, I'll just cut away most of the green! It's a green t-shirt after all."


Then I touched the iron.

I touched the iron to the design after it took FOREVER to get the cut away pieces to stay down.

*#$^%&#%~*^@#%@! ~
I mean, "Thats ok, it'll be cute with the vintagey-worn look.  Hmm, maybe not, I'll just use the left over backing and the iron to go back over that rough spot, & that spot, & that spot, & that spot."

I think I saved it though.  At this point I'm so tired of staring at it that I'm pretty convinced that I saved it.

But I being a mere mortal, was not content to screw up just one project.  Oh no, next I offer you frustration - uh, project # 2.  A ring in kind.

I found this cool ring at Target on clearance.

And immediately I thought, I could just take some of those Darby O'Gill pics and print them on shrink plastic, cut that little sucker out and glue it to the ring. kind of worked.
 When they were in the oven, I got nervous because they curled up.  So I freaked and thought, well, I'll try those again later.  But I read about the curling problem and found that I probably didn't give them enough time.  So back in they went.

They turned out must better than at first but they were a little too big.  So another batch was printed.  This time the Banshee came out a bit too dull.  But in the 2nd run they shrunk right down.

King Brian however continued to curl, even though I tried the hint to place a piece of parchment paper over the shrink plastic to help keep it from rolling up.  I eventually got that piece to lay flat but noticed a small split in the side.  I don't know if that was from my trim job or my attempt to get that piece to lay flat.

But these pieces were definitely a better size.  So one of these puppies was getting a fancy ride.  So I checked them both out on the ring.  I decided I should color the Banshee's edges - the white was a bit too stark.  While I fixed the edges I decided to brighten her back up.

I gave them both another look on the ring but was still torn.
Unable to decide a clear front runner, I Modge Podged them both.

Head: : Desk.

The Modge Podge on King Brian smeared some of the ink.  He looked like a Gaelic Line Backer, the green smeared under his eye on one side.  Again, with some finagling I think I saved it.

So after a lot of fixes I realized that all these little boo-boos are just another set of tools.  Tools that won't take up any room.  Next time, I'll know just how far to go.

I'll know just how far I can push a piece of shrink plastic and just how far away my iron needs to stay away from an exposed transfer.

And until I decide whether to make a King Brian ring or a Banshee ring I at least have a cool t-shirt to go with that ring from last year's cupcake.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

March Roundup - I may need a nap...

Babies, Birthdays, IronCrafting & that little distraction I refer to as work has got me running!  So I haven't updated recently...I owe you a little tour of my recent attempts.

Perhaps I should start with the oldest project.  It was a Christmas gift...yes, a Christmas gift.  I hadn't seen my friend since before Christmas - so what better time to give her the gift than her birthday?  Ha - that's terrible to even write...

I'm pretty proud of this.  It was material that was preprinted for a pillow...but I saw an apron.
She squealed like a 12 year old at a Bieber concert, so I think she liked it!

Of course I had a Birthday gift too.

She's been a devotee of Zumba lately so I figured a cute little workout outfit might be useful, if not ironic.


Who wears dessert themed work-out gear?!?

Apparently people that are crazy enough to be friends with me!

And last but not least, the newest Iron Craft Project:
This week's project was in honor of Fat Tuesday.  So our challenge was to make a project out of a FatQuarter.

Yep - 1.  1 Fat Quarter.

I ran through a couple of possibilities.

But I ended up deciding on a project that I took from my Sewing Calendar from last year.  The funny thing is going back through the calendar, I'm recognizing more crafters from blogs I read & that I've heard from through Iron Craft.  Funny how that works.

The project that I picked works for one of the many babies that seem to be popping up everywhere!
(Seriously people...I can't keep up!)

I gave the Pacifier Pouch from Lola Again a shot.  I say gave it a shot because she makes it seem so easy,that  my attempt feels like I'm a 3rd grader in art class.  She whips these little suckers out in under an hour.  I cannot go on enough about how cool her site is.

I'm afraid that this doesn't reflect on how easy this project was!

I am just still struggling with sewing.  I am definitely taking baby steps.  So the Pacifier Pouch is strangely appropriate.

Looking at it, these pics don't do my little pocket justice.

My Pacifier Pouch is pretty plain -- maybe I need to look at adding something a little extra...but I don't want to frou frou up a bag for a little boy.

I will say I'm happy that the vinyl I had on hand worked out.  I was a little skeptical since it wasn't the iron-on kind.  But I wouldn't recommend using jean material for the outer pouch.  I thought it'd be great for durability but it doesn't handle the little folds of creating a finished edge so well.  At least at my skill level...

I doubt this will get any Beiber-worthy squealing but I'll definitely give this project another try.  It was easy and best of all it's useful.  And those are the gifts I love to give - ones that will be useful, of course squeals are always welcome.  

So - now you see what I've been up to.  

I guess that means it's time to get back to work...
maybe I'll sneak a nap in first!