Friday, December 5, 2014

My Future Repurposed Entryway: In Search Of Ideas!

Hi, guys!  I haven't said much about this, but I am working on a very cool house renovation project IRL.  (IRL = In Real Life.  You're welcome, mom!)

It's an old adobe house in the desert Southwest (just outside Tucson).  You might call it a mini-mini-ranch.  A mini slice of cactus-studded ranch land, where the original owner raised miniature horses.

We have finally gotten all the beautiful adobe walls painted a nice creamy white, so at last it's time to decorate!  Here's the inside of the foyer, showing the decor so far:

Yep, one rug and a hat rack.  About that hat rack...want a closer look?

It's made from a fireplace-tool caddy I found on the curb, and a tree branch from the yard.  Total cost: $0.00

I want everything in my entry to be repurposed, upcycled, rustic and funky.  I assembled a clipboard of ideas from Hometalk, which is sort of like Pinterest but more project-oriented, and exclusively for house and home.  (It's also a fun forum where you can pose technical or design questions, and get lots of friendly advice.)

Just click on the graphic to check out some great upcycles that caught my eye.  Let me know your thoughts, 'cause I am open to ideas!  If you were me, how would you furnish the entry?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Easy Vintage Brooch Ornaments

Hello, my dears!  Today I want to show you these dee-lightfully fancy ornaments.

Pretty, eh?

What if I told you they cost practically nothing, and took about sixty seconds to make?  Uh-huh, I knew you'd appreciate that.

You know those cheap plastic table runners and placemats, that look like elaborate metallic lace?

Sometimes you can find them at the dollar store.  Sometimes they come as tablecloths or fabric you can buy by the foot.  I grab them whenever I see them!   True, there is nothing tackier in life.  But those big crazy flowers are so durn craftable!  (Check out this tutorial for turning them into jewelry.)

To make the ornament, cut out a metallic lace flower as a simple circle, like so:

(If you want to spend a little more time, you can cut around each petal.  Moi?  Totally fine with the shortcut version.)

Grab a grandma-looking brooch.  An old one that's been hiding in your jewelry box, or a thrift store find.

Pin the brooch to the flower.

Add an ornament hanger - just poke it right into plastic.

Ooh, ah!

Aren't they nice?  I love how a vintage brooch will class the whole joint up.

Now say you can't find a brooch, but fer sure you have some fugly old earrings you would never wear in a million years.

Like this one, mebbe.

So attach the earring to the plastic flower, simply using its own earnut.  Like so:

And pow, another beautiful ornament.


One tip about the placement of the wire ornament hanger.   You know how most earring posts and pin backs are usually off center?  After adding your jewel to the flower, do a little swing test to see how the jewel is balanced.  Then attach the hanger at whichever spot will best allow it to hang correctly and not flop forward.

That's the idea...I do hope you like it!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Guess The Mystery Thing: Five Petal Flowers

Heya!  Let's do a scroll-down version of the Guess The Mystery Thing game!  I'll show you some upcycled jewelry.  You'll try to guess the mysterious secret ingredient.  No peeking until you think you know the answer!

Ready?  Check out the pretty red bauble...

The Mystery Thing is that five-petal, open-edge flower.  Hmm, yes...gosh, it does look familiar.  What is that thing?

Got your guess in mind?  Great.  Now scroll down to see the answer.





Keep scrolling...





Here it comes...






A trumpet flower from a broken hummingbird feeder!  Found it in the 'free' box at a yard sale.  I love the free box.  There's often something wonderful to be transformed or repurposed.

For the bracelet above, I cut off part of the flower to create a low-profile focal piece.  Here's an alternate style, using the full length of the trumpet:

Pretty cute, eh?  I shall wear it in the garden.  I fully expect to attract hummingbirds.

So.  Did you guess right - or were you way off base?  Do tell!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Repurposed Rad Roundup

Hiya, everybody!  So here's a rather miscellaneous post.  I thought you all might like a peek at a few terrific repurposed ideas I've seen recently.

From Aunt Peaches: a mega-awesome sugar skull necklace, so simple to create 'cause it's made from iron-on patches.

From My Salvaged Treasures: a plethora of chandelier crystal earrings, upcycled from the wreckage of a vintage fixture she rescued at a flea market:

And a genius one-minute project from The Beading Gem: how to make a crazy easy scarf ring, from just a button and a basic split key ring:

Talented craft addict (and longtime blog reader) Shannon created this wonderful, ethnic-inspired double-tiered necklace:

I just had to show you guys a closeup of those flat green disks.  Nuthin' but circles cut out of plastic bottles!  Don't they look great, the way she strung them between similar color beads?

The brilliantly frugal Jill over at Creating My Way To Success used two ski clip doohickies as handles on a washable, reusable trash bin liner.  Even cooler, the bag is upcycled from a swimming pool salt bag:

Over at Saraccino, I was gobsmacked by these romantic, truly one-of-a-kind folk art bottle cap earrings:

Finally, from The Answer Is Chocolate: Carol delighted me with this very clever off-label use for a Christmas snowflake form.  She converted it into a beaded Halloween spiderweb!

So that's what I've been admiring around the web this week.  I sure hope you enjoyed these random finds...let me know if you think I should make this a regular feature!

See ya next time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CraftFail, The Book! An Interview With Heather Mann

I am a huge fan of the blog   Why?  Because it's fabulous.  Gawking at other people's crafty disasters - what could be more confidence-boosting than that?  Plus, I sometimes get featured there, when something I've tried to make has gone fatally awry.  And now there's a book!

photo credit: Craftfail, Workman Publishing

Even before it came out, I was excited for the publication.  It's on my gift list for a bunch of people who need this book - and don't even know it.  It exceeded my expectations!  The fails are so horrifying, you can't help but love them (and the brave souls who allowed them to see the light of day).  Like this delightful bunny cake:

photo credit: Craftfail, Workman Publishing

That won't give your child nightmares.  Nope.  Not at all.

Or this super elegant gingerbread house:

photo credit: Craftfail, Workman Publishing

Gaaaah!   Only thing missing: little marzipan men in hazmat suits.

There are sections for every type of craft out there - foodie failures, decor disasters and fashion freakouts.  I love the one called Martha Made It.  Point of pride: one of my own personal mess-tastrophes made the cut (pg 17, Paisley Poo-Brella).

At least as funny as the fails are the captions and snarky side notes from the author.  ("Napalm Cake In A Jar."  "Mo' Saics, Mo' Problems.")   Ha!  So here's Heather in her own words, to tell you what went on in her crafty little head along the way.

Mich: I remember reading zines of yours from waaay back in the day.  And of course you're kind of a big deal online, with myriad blogs and guest appearances all around the web.  Is CraftFail your first published book?  Heather: Yes! After 30 years of writing (my first office was in my bedroom closet when I was 8), I have finally achieved published author status!

Mich: What was the original concept behind the CraftFail blog? Heather: Well, I massively botched a crocheted collar on a t-shirt, which was just the most recent in a long line of fails, and it occurred to me that I didn't have to waste the work if I just posted about the failed project anyway. After a few posts, I was hooked on posting about my failures.  When I started it in 2009, I invited crafters to post their own crafty failures. By the time Pinterest started to get popular in 2011ish, the site began to take off because of the legions of new crafters who were trying Pinterest-inspired crafts, and failing.

Mich: How was the experience of writing the book different from anything else you've done?  Heather: The most notable difference about the process of writing CraftFail was that it was ALL TEXT when I wrote it. I am used to writing blog-style, with plenty of photos in between paragraphs. It was surprisingly difficult to write the first draft of the book as a giant Word doc. I couldn't see what was happening in the manuscript at all.

Mich: I plan to give copies to some very diverse people in my life, who I think will love it for totally different reasons.  Who do you see as the audience for the book?  Heather: Anyone who has tried crafting (or even cooking) will find something to love in this book, but I really wrote it as a love letter to those optimists who experience delusions of grandeur whenever they embark on a project. I secretly hope to convert people who are ashamed or irritated when they experience failure, and bring them over to the enlightened side of failure celebration.

Mich: My husband was laughing out loud at the disasters - and he's a tough audience!  Have you experienced that non-crafters and dudes enjoy the book more that you expected?  Heather: I have been really excited to hear from several people that their husbands have been laughing out loud at the book. I never anticipated that, but I am really thrilled that the book appeals to people outside of my little crafty world.

Mich: What's going on in your crafty life right now?  Anything new and mysterious in the works?  Heather: I am hoping to work on another book very soon but I don't have anything concrete to share as I'm still in the idea incubation phase. Other than that, I've been having fun making videos for my YouTube channel.

Mich: Thanks, Heather!  For the interview and the awesome, adorable, terrifying book.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

I hope you guys enjoyed this glimpse of the crafty publication of the season!  Now, please excuse me...I gotta go buy ingredients for a Napalm Cake In A Jar.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bento Fish Jewelry

Allow me to introduce my salty new necklace and earrings.

Made from soy sauce fish!  Have you seen these things?  Inexpensive, adorable tiny bottles.  Most often used for bento box lunches.  Are they not the niftiest?

I bought mine at Seattle's famous Uwajimaya store.  You can find soy sauce fish at specialty food stores, Japanese gift shops or online.  I am quite giddy over these briny gems.

The secret of the blue earrings is madly fun.  With the cap removed, pinch a fish between thumb and forefinger, then dip the opening in paint.  Release the pressure and suck up about a quarter of a fish's worth of color.  Squoosh the paint around to cover the inside completely, and let it dry.

Now the color is sealed inside!  Snip off the neck like so:

The color is up to you.  Any paint should work - I'm agog to experiment some more.  I really want try it with antique gold enamel, glitter paint and, ooh, neon coral!

Converting them into jewelry is easy peasy.  The plastic is so soft, a thumbtack is enough to poke any holes you need.  I made simple wire loops to add pearl 'bubbles,' and attached them to fishhook earwires.

The clear pendant was even simpler.  I poked sideways holes on either side of the mouth, then inserted a big jump ring as a bail to attach the necklace.

Since these fish weigh nothing, I added a heavy crystal bead and some glass pearls to the fishtail for ballast.  I found the prettiest fish clasp to finish it off.

You know you need this cuteness in your life.  So find a Japanese gift shop - seize the carp - and make some jewelry!