Monday, December 26, 2011

Wearable Audacity

Once upon a time, as a teenager shopping with my mom on a summer vacation trip in Mississippi, we happened upon a boutique that had a denim skirt and jacket. The pieces were sold separately, but were meant to be worn together. Both were elaborately embellished. Both were outrageous and funky. Both were fabulously expensive. I wanted them desperately, but even a self-centered teen is capable of understanding ZOMG-that's-expensive! Mom apologized, said she'd get it for me if she could, but it was just too expensive. And it was - the pieces were really the first time I remember seeing something that could be labelled "wearable art." They were not overpriced, just beyond what the budget could bear. She told me that we could make it ourselves - maybe not the same thing, but we could alter a jacket and skirt and make something similar. We gathered a few supplies, but quickly realized that just buying the embellishments added up fast. The project never made it off the ground.

Fast forward about 26 years. I'm coming into my own as an artist. I'm learning to sew and am good at reverse engineering. I have developed an adventurous spirit when it comes to trying something new. I can barely recall what that original skirt and jacket looked like - it's been more than half my life since I saw it! And I know now that the skirt wouldn't suit me now, and it would fit anyway. And as a teen, wearing it would have gotten more ridicule than admiration. Now, I simply don't give a damn what people think! (Back then I had chutzpah in the traditional sense: insolence, arrogance and audacity* - I brazened my way out of high school trying to survive. Now, it's more disdain.)

I know when I'm wearing something that suits me because I'm comfortable. I know when I look awkward, when something isn't "me" - my challenge for the new year will be to find the right jacket, the right jeans to alter into a skirt, and recreate that wearable art set that has percolated in the back of my head, O these many years. I have another jacket project I want to get back to, as well. And some purses I want to play with. Will I find what I want? Create the nebulous vision? WHO KNOWS! It's a whole new year and anything could happen.

Update: I also want to do a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors to go with them. I really need to start some design sketches....

* I've always loved the word audacity. Most people regard it as a pejorative. Not me. "Boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions." I am arrogant. It's not one of my nicer qualities, but it's there. I am an audacious person. Maybe it's time to stop trying to be something I'm not, and embrace the core of who I am. Look out, world, this is your only warning!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Miniature Recipe Box

I wanted to make recipe box ornaments, but I knew a full-size box would be too big and heavy. Using a metal box as my guide, I made a template that can be printed out on 8.5 x 11" paper. If you print the template directly onto the paper/cardstock you're using, be sure to print it on the BACK side of the paper, so the lines won't show. Or you can print it on heavy cardstock and use the template to trace the lines onto your paper.

The finished box is about 2 7/8 inches wide, 1 7/8 inches tall and 1 3/4 inches deep.

Cut out your paper. On the template, the dashed lines are folding guides; solid lines are to be cut. If you fold all of the pieces before you start to assemble it, your life will be much easier!

I used double-sided tape, but you could use a glue stick if you hold until it sets. Fold in the top flaps (shown above), taping them to the sides of the lid.

This shows the top flaps folded and taped to the lid sides, forming a boxy shape.

Fold in the flaps on the three sides of the lid.

Finished lid

Tape (or glue) the smaller back flaps to the sides of the base, then fold in the larger flaps.

Back flaps are in place; folding up the larger flaps, roughing in the bottom of the box.

Once you have your sides in place, fold in the small flaps (taping or gluing them down), just as with the lid. 

The box doesn't close very well since it's not hinged like the metal recipe box I used for inspiration, but I'll leave that up to your creativity - tie it closed with a ribbon, use a brad and string, leave it open... so many ways to play with this little box!

Download the template here. You are free to use it and share it, with attribution please (I worked hard on it, getting credit is a small thing to ask), but you may not sell the template or include it with other works for sale - it isn't yours to sell.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Million Ways to Procrastinate

I signed up at Pinterest in June as part of 30 Days of Creativity, but didn't really do much with it after the month was done. A friend of mine started using it, which made me take a second look at the site. And I have been using it to daydream about new projects ever since...

Ever since I got over my initial horror of destroying books, working on my own altered book, I've been looking at them with new eyes. So many books are discarded! I would never destroy something valuable (collectible, rare, etc.), but there's an awful lot of books that don't fall into that category. If you just look at the people who've tagged recycled books on Pinterest, there's tons of amazing, creative and fun projects. There's Christmas ornaments in particular I am dying to make. Currently, my vintage aluminum tree is set up in the library... but wouldn't it be awesome to have a book-themed tree?

We're working on finishing up our unpacking and organizing (we moved in last July) in the basement, where a lot of boxes ended up, yet to be unpacked. I know how I want to decorate that space, and Pinterest is giving me a lot of inspiration there, too.

Whatever you can think of, there's probably someone at Pinterest who's thought of it, too. And you will find a million ways to procrastinate.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hydrangea Topiary

This is super-easy to make. I used a 4" styrofoam ball, 2 large silk hydrangeas, a 4" clay pot (painted),  1/4" dowel (14" long), dried moss, florist foam, ribbon, hot glue, wire, and a toothpick.

Cut all the florets off the flowers and press the stems into the ball. I used a toothpick to make a "pilot hole". Start at the top and work your way down, spacing them so that they're bunched together and look full. Leave space at the bottom to insert the dowel. If you have any florets left over, carefully look at your ball and see if there are any places that look spare, and fill in. You can also rearrange the orientation of the 4-petaled florets to cover any thin places.

I happened to have a 14-inch piece of 1/4" dowel on hand, so that's what I used. Paint the dowel (I used a mossy green), let dry, and carefully insert into the ball, being careful to keep it vertical. If you don't, it will go in crooked and your topiary will look lopsided.

Paint your pot, if desired, and let dry. Trim a piece of florist foam (I had some on hand; you could also use styrofoam) so that it fits into the pot very snugly. Mark the center of the foam and insert the dowel - again being careful to keep it vertical.

Attach dried moss to the top of the foam with hot glue. Gather several loops of ribbon with a small piece of wire and twist the wire to hold the ribbon loops in place. Wrap the wire ends tightly around your toothpick and insert the pick into the base of your foam ball, near the dowel. Done!

 The eggplant and mulberry colors in my topiary are inspired from the shower curtain, which has dusty mauve, plum and moss, on an off-white background. You don't have to use hydrangeas, of course, small rosebuds work for this beautifully, but you need a ton of them. The most tedious and time-consuming part is putting the flowers in the styrofoam. I think I spent over an hour doing it - on a 4-inch ball! (Finished ball is about 6 inches across.)