Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Things I hope to accomplish

I'm going to post this list on the sidebar later.

-Make a corset. I know from talking to pros that it's not as hard as it seems. To me, though, it's like a wearable quilt-- it takes MATH and MEASURING and NON-STRETCH FABRICS. It's also kinda spendy. I can make do with cheap fabric when I'm just messing about, but if I'm gonna make a corset it's going to be pretty and durable and actually cinch me in, which means steel boning. Which I have to order. So it's on the list until I magically have the time, energy and monies.

-Black "oval skirt" which will be cut like a circle skirt but, um, an oval. I'm hoping this will make it long in the front and short in the back.

-A very goth umbrella. A friend of mine gave me an old umbrella today-- the top is all chewed up but it's structurally sound. My plan is to paint it all black and cover it with ratty holey lace/mesh. Nighttime parasol, I guess. TOTALLY POINTLESS other than a fun costume piece.

-My own 10 yard skirt. I figure I'll start with a 10 yarder and work up from there.

-My own choli. I'd like to make ones with lace sleeves that bell at the 3/4 sleeve mark. And also regular long sleeved ones that are actually long enough for my monkey arms. And short sleeved ones in something light and breathable.

It's nice to dream. The next 1.5 weeks will be spent making things for other people, be they costume pieces or things to sell. And occasionally something for myself, but really they're "work clothes." So not as fun as just whipping something up on a serger. Serger... how I miss you....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's still cold.

So I've sort of moved the studio to the new space. I took all my fabric needed for current projects, a lot of tools (man, have I got a lotta pairs of pliers...), four bags of flowers and a box full of nothing but glitter.

I managed to work one day over there so far. Monday was warm and lovely here in Wisconsin. I opened all the doors and the house temperature soon rose to meet the outside (60 degrees. We in Wisconsin consider this to be shorts weather). However, when it came time to sew up my creations I realized I'd brought my sewing machine but not the cord and pedal. Oops. So I tidied up some and left.

Now it's cold again. Today it was in the 40s and rainy. Tomorrow is likely to be the same, and Thursday, with a break coming on Friday.

I can't wait that long. Twitch. Twitch.

So as a substitute for actual productivity, I made myself a sweater jacket. I'd have finished it today were it not for the eight billion things I did instead. Tomorrow I hope to finish and wear it to the meeting I'm going to, because the ladies I'm meeting with coveted similar such coats on Etsy and wanted to know if I could make them. I like to be able to say "Yes" without actually having to say it.

I'd like to say I'm going to be massively productive tomorrow, and we'll venture forth in hopes of that, but sometimes, as a fellow dancer said today, you just need a "small day." Small days are ones that you spend sitting on a comfy chair with tea and books and you don't pressure yourself to be Superwoman.

Today I should have given myself a small day.

I'm making it a small evening.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Thought I'd post some of my favorite (crafty) things of the moment:

1. Epoxy clay. I only bought a tiny tube of this, being inspired by this book:

Weirdly, I swear I got that book from my library and now it's gone. Not like checked out. TOTALLY GONE. Ah well. The book is full of amazing things you can do with epoxy clay. It's like epoxy glue, but it's clay. That means while it has plus sides (major strength, sandable/paintable, does not need a kiln or over, cures underwater if you want it to), it also has downsides like fumes and, in my case, a 5 minute working time. I need to get some that is actually meant for sculpting with, like this:

At any rate, it's fantastic. After years of making crap outta polymer clay, it's amazing to sculpt something and, after it's cured, actually be able to put pressure on it without fear of it snapping.
I'm wondering if I could make gauged earrings out of it (I hate that phrase, BTW. "Gauges." ALL EARRINGS HAVE A GAUGE. But it's easier/faster to write "gauged earrings" than "earrings for my stretched ear holes"). Presumably they would need to be coated with something body-safe, and I'm not sure what that'd be.

2. Leather. I'm not a vegan. I don't plan on becoming one, so don't shout at me. I haven't ever really worked with leather, just because I had no reason to, but recently I've been doing Ren Faire outfits and using quite a bit of the stuff. It's amazing to me to cut a material that doesn't fray, doesn't roll up, takes paint, can handle grommets without lining... Yum. I really adore used (cut up old jackets) leather right now.

3. Glitter, and glitter adhesive. Since it's spring, all the craft stores are putting out packs of fairy poop. So of course I had to buy a bunch of it. Some of it was neon colors! Oh, goodness me. I go through phases with glitter, and right now I want to attach it to any- and everything. I also picked up some fancy glitter adhesive I can't remember the name of right now, and the first thing I did was to glitter-fy my librarian shoes with them. They still look like librarian shoes, but they're glittery now. Ah well. Photos later... It's pretty awesome stuff. Paint it on, sprinkle with glitter, let dry, and it's ON there.

4. Paper made from elephant dung. No, I'm not kidding. No, it's not gross. A good friend of mine gave me a journal made from the stuff, and it's rad. Linkie:

Monday, April 11, 2011

I've been having a rough few months, but now have a Plan. The Plan makes me feel much better; that combined with drinking more water, getting more exercise, and finding some joy in my dance has led me to be in a better mood. Today, anyhow. I'll be realistic enough to say, "We'll see how tomorrow goes."

I also slept really well last night. Not more sleep, just better sleep.

The problem that began ruminations of the Plan: I work from home. I make stuff. Sometimes it's stuff to sell online, or locally, and sometimes it's costuming stuff for the Renaissance Faire I work at (for myself or other people). Lately I've felt like I can't get anything finished. I'll start a project and inevitably find something else that needs doing. Like playing video games with my daughter. I'd love to blame all my inaction on my kids and husband, but while they play a role I know the brunt of my issue comes from me not feeling like my work is Work.

Work is something you do and are paid for. This is Work, even when it's fun.

So I've felt not only frustrated at my inability to finish things (or even start things), but also have felt incredibly stunted, creatively. I started a new sketchpad and it's already filling up with ideas for things I can't imagine starting yet. I can't find the supplies, don't have the time to spare, feel it's frivolous, etc. So I'm a big wad of creative impotency right now, and that's not how I need and want to be.

Thus the Plan. The Plan was my mom's idea. She's brilliant. I love her.

My father owns a house about 20 minutes from me. It's in the city I grew up in. Right now it's uninhabited, with burst pipes and a faulty furnace. And it's EMPTY.

Okay, not empty, but it's fairly spacious, with some furniture in it (a couch, a dining room table, stools in the kitchen). There's electricty, a faucet in the basement that still works, a fridge and coffee pot and, maybe most importantly, it's a building that is not my house. It is a place to do Work.

So sometime in the next few weeks, I'll be moving my studio over there. Right now my "studio" is my basement/kitchen/dining room, where I have fabric, beads, paint, glitter, bits and bobs, glue, tools, etc. Before I do anything I have to organize my supplies, list out my projects, and figure out what I'll need over there.

Deciding what to take is the trickiest part. I make things as a hobby, too, and hate the idea of sitting up at night, husband and kids asleep, and having the sudden urge to put glitter on my shoes and not having any. Then again, this might be a good thing. I have hobbies other than making stuff-- I dance, do watercolor paintings, play the ukulele on a very beginner level. So if I'm not tempted by my stockpile of glitter, maybe I'll become a bit more rounded, hobby-wise? But then again, I imagine being like a tradesman, coming home with my toolbox of things I don't want to be without, only instead of hammers and screwdrivers my toolbox would contain glitter, a hot glue gun and some good scissors. Heh. We'll see how this goes, but this morning I woke up and didn't feel crippled by my creativity. And that's a Good Thing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: Enchanted Adornments by Cynthia Thornton

I usually don't gush about books. This one had me up reading until my eyes blurred! It's packed with faerie-inspired jewelry crafts using polymer clay, resin, shrinky-dinks and precious metal clay, not to mention found objects, charms, beads, fabric, fibers... They're beautiful, absolutely unique and very well explained. I've already chosen two projects to try out right away-- the "Sculptural Scrimshaw" necklace and the "Woodland Wings" necklace.

To the meat of the review:

  • The projects have a very mythical slant. If you're into the fantasy genre or like organic, slightly odd items, this book will get you drooling.
  • The projects use a variety of materials. I currently can't afford PMC, but when I can, I'll be using this book as solid inspiration.
  • Many of the projects have variations, using slightly different materials for a different final product.
  • Lots of pictures! In color!
  • Plenty of basic information on the materials used, like how to work with polymer clay to keep it clean.
  • An "inspirational gallery" in the back of designs that aren't explained, but are awesome to ogle.
  • A troubleshooting guide in the back to help with crafting snags.
  • Step-by-step instructions on making the "meat" of the project-- say, the focal piece for a necklace-- and then another set for how to string the necklace itself. Most tricky steps also have photos to guide you.
  • Did I mention there's faeries? There's faeries. Each project is accompanied with a beautifully illustrated "journal entry" about the creator meeting a fantastical creature, and drawing inspiration from it. For example: On meeting "Niabi," a deer with a female head: "I drew a picture of her, attempting to capture her grace and lithe form. I sketched the spiraling pattern on her coat, noting the way it resembled ivory inlaid in wood." The project in this case is made from polymer clay colored to resemble ivory inlay on wood.

  • There are a few steps that aren't spelled out. One example is in the Woodland Wings project. You need to glue tissue paper to small wire wings that will later be covered in resin. Alas, it doesn't say what sort of glue to use, or how exactly to apply the glue to the wire, or whether to cover both sides of the wings with it. A seasoned (or bold) crafter will figure it out, but it might deter beginners.
  • The "journal entries" are cute, but some might find them a pointless addition. They also used "+" instead of "and," and while I like it (it gives more the appearance that this is a handwritten journal), some might not.
  • Changes in materials for the variations are not supplied in list form. For those into making an exact replica of what they see, this could cause some frustration.

Seriously? I can't say enough about this book. I don't often find a source of inspiration and technique all wrapped up into one amazing package. The book is well-designed, filled with beauty and will be an amazing addition to any crafter's library. Pick one up-- I did!


The Big Show is done. This show had me so scattered that I'd have lost my mind if it weren't stuck inside my head with all that leftover hot glue. The show-- which was Tribal Renaissance here in Eau Claire-- lasted all day, and included me vending, me teaching, me socializing, me learning, and me performing. There were other people there too, but oddly, I wasn't too concerned about them being overwhelmed. ;P

So needless to say, my brain has been busy going OMG for about a month while I prepped and stressed. Now that it's done, I'm having Craft Apathy. Nothing seems as important as the prep for the show did ("Man, if I can just make another twelve hair clips I'll be good to go... never mind that the gig is tomorrow..."), so I've been sorta wondering aimlessly around my craft room, looking for inspiration. The room needs a good cleaning and reorganizing, especially because there's another Big Show (or rather, Big Series of Shows) coming up-- my troupe is performing at five, count 'em, FIVE weekends in a row at the Renaissance Faire near us (linkage here). This is a Big Deal. We're not only dancing, but also working as street performers. We'll walk around, dance a bit, interact with other actors and with patrons, dance s'more, talk some more, harass the German Inquisitor character, and then eat some stew. All this, and my first (and second, and third) thought is, "What am I going to wear?"

It's valid, I swear. Imagine being outside for two days. Add sunshine, probably rain, improbably but concievably snow (it's Wisconsin, guys), dirt, dust, bugs, sweat from shaking my booty, bits of food I'll invariably drop down my cleavage, beer water I've dumped on my skirt, bits of yarn, twigs, tears of joy when the coffee has brewed and very small rocks. Shake vigorously and wear for five weekends. Mmmm, no. A girl needs (non-stinky, unstained) options.

So my "procrastination list" has new items. Some are totally in the planning stages; others are halfway done. Since I'm the troupe Crafty One (I didn't volunteer, but I can't. Say. No. PLEASE LET ME MAKE YOU STUFF WWWHEEEEEEE!), some of the items are multiples of four. Eeeeep. Tomorrow: Clean the studio! Do laundry! Buy some trim! Then dance. That's right, I am a dancer...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two recent projects... WITH CAPTIONS!!

I have several performances coming up that are "hafla style"-- that is, no seating beyond a pillow you bring. Alas, most pillows that are pretty are also slippery, uncomfortable due to beads and such, and are usually too small for a tasseled bottom. So I made a pair of "hafla pillows" that are round and big enough to sit on. They're made from scraps on the top and faux suede on the bottom. The blue/purple/green one has fringe around the edge.

Some things I learned doing these:

-Thin fabrics need iron-on interfacing, both to keep them from stretching while being sewn (and bulging after being stuffed), and to keep the stuffing from leaking out through the fibers.

-It's totally OK to forget to leave an opening for turning, but make up for it by cutting a hole in the bottom which is later patched in a sort of boho way.

-Circle pillows turn into dome pillows if you don't insert a strip of fabric between the circles. That's OK for these two, but next time I'm hoping to make a very big version of the pillow that came with my husband's singing bowl.

I also like to take pants that are thisclose to fitting and insert a strip of fabric up the outer seam so I can fit into 'em. I've been doing this for as long as I've been fluctuating between sizes, i.e., since age 17. Usually when I do this I use a contrasting fabric, but lately I was feeling a bit more subdued in my dress (probably because I dyed my hair bright red orange). The strip on this pair ended up looking more like a design element than a DIY fix. I did the stencil with pigment powders that I mixed with textile medium. Now THAT'S addictive.