Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring/Easter Chick Earrings!

     After making the "Spring Chicks with Mama Hen", I had so much fun that I wanted an excuse to make a few more chicks.  I got to pull out a bunch of different clay colors and just wallow in chick-making for a while.  Yay!

And an up-close shot of one pair on an earring card:

      Making them was an interesting process.... mainly because I had to keep my four and two year old from eating the not-yet-embellished bodies.  I guess they really look like jelly beans at first.  Just too tempting for little eyes and little fingers can't help but reach for them.  Fortunately, none were eaten.

     Got these little cuties up in the shop right now.  Hope everyone's ready for Spring!  Time to start thinking about those gardens....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Desert-Themed Terrarium with Succulent Plants

    Walking around the store the other day, I came across some succulent plants.  My mom used to have these in New Mexico and I remember that they liked a dry environment and they were pretty low maintenance.  The store had a really good selection, so I picked 4 of my favorites and brought them home.  They've been at my house in their original plastic pots for about 3-4 days.

    Today at Hobby Lobby, they had their glass 50% off!!!  I danced a little jig, picked out an awesome-looking HUGE bowl/vase hybrid and brought it home to build my little succulent terrarium.

This is how it turned out:

Making it was incredibly easy as far as setting it up.  HOWEVER, putting the plants in there was a bit tricky.  Luckily, I was able to squeeze them in without breaking any of them, but I suggest either measuring your plant circumference vs. accessible top circumference before beginning.  ---OR-- you can simply buy a larger-mouthed container than I did. 

How I did mine:

Open-air glass container (keeps it from getting too moist)
Succulent Plants
Activated charcoal (not necessary for open-containers like this one, but definitely needed for closed tropical terrariums.  I had some anyway from my old fish tank, so I went ahead and added it.)
Soil (I used cactus mix from a bag.  Succulents need good drainage and this will help keep them from getting too wet.)
Decorative Stones/Pebbles (optional)
Plastic window screen (optional, I did NOT use.  Read Step 2 to figure out if you'd like to add this or not.)

Step 1- Wash out your glass container to get rid of store dust and grime.  You're going to have to clean it up again later once the dirt is off, but it's going to be heavier then and it's nice to start with a clean slate.  Next, rinse your gravel and put a layer down.  The thickness depends on how large your container is.  I did about a 2" layer in mine.

Step 2- Then, rinse your activated charcoal under running water until the water runs clear.  Put a layer down on top of the gravel.  If you want to keep the charcoal from slipping into the gravel layer, you can cut a little section of window screening to prevent this.  Me?  Honestly, I didn't care if they mixed a little bit.  It really didn't move as I was making it and while it may move down a little over time, I'm not going to flip.  (When making terrariums for my dart frogs that I used to have, I did keep a screen in between the soil layer and the gravel to prevent soil slippage [no charcoal layer in those terrariums] and found the plastic window screen the best.  It won't rust like other screens and did not have to be replaced.)  Not necessary, but an option.

Step 3- Put down your soil layer and start planting your plants.  You'll have to add/subtract soil as you move things around, but now's the time to wiggle stuff around and see how you like it.

Step 4-  Dust as much soil off of our plants as you can (I found an old makeup brush worked FANTASTICALLY) and then decorate with pebbles or rocks.

Succulents do not need a lot of water.  You should only water them every few weeks.  The soil I added was moist enough (not wet) that I won't have to touch it or do anything for awhile yet.  Nice and easy way to enjoy some green in a room.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

DIY Photography Light Box

    So a few days ago, I was killing time on Etsy, looking at all the nifty things that I could pin or just drool over when it really hit me that I wanted some nice, white backdrop photos to showcase my stuff. 

     I started doing a bit of looking and found that pop-up light tents or boxes were going for $45-$100!  Me being me, I wanted to try doing it myself.  Praise Google!  This tutorial popped up.  So I wrote down the materials I would need and headed out to Michael's.  I already had most of the stuff, and some stuff, I replaced with other items.

    Finished it about an hour ago.  It's not the prettiest in the world, but it works.... and that's all that matters.

I didn't use glue sticks for the inside Bristol edging, instead I used glue dots (my glue stick was just not up to par), I also glued the muslin on with E-6000.  Unfortunately, my white lightbulb blew when I took it out of the box and turned on the lamp (the wattage was within what the lamp could handle... it was just a bum bulb), so I had to use a regular one which makes the tint more yellow than white.  Will definitely pick up a new bulb tomorrow.

    Even with the yellow bulb, though, the results on the test shot weren't bad for my first snap!
   With a white bulb, the tint should go away, and I'm thinking about adding two more smaller lamps to reduce shadows even more.  We'll see. 

     If you're looking for a light box, give this a shot.  It's not hard and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than shelling out the money for one from a company.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket

     The old saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" doesn't always hold true.  It doesn't necessarily mean that catastrophe is inevitable.  Sometimes, all of your eggs in one basket can result in something really, really good.  :)

     These little guys were made using Sculpey Studio polymer clay (which, sadly, has been retired... drives me crazy), baked in an Amaco craft oven, and then hand-painted.  I have not glazed them yet.  I will probably be glazing them with a satin glaze so they are not shiny; though I am kicking around the idea of not glazing them at all. (Sculpey Studio clay has an awesome almost suede-like texture and doesn't have to be glazed.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hungry Caterpillar Burp Cloths, Grow Boxes, and Printing on Twill Tape.

     Got some burp cloths finished for the baby due in August.  We still don't know if it's a boy or girl, but "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" is awesome in that it's good for either.  Scarlett kept asking why the caterpillar looked sad.  I told her that it was because he ate too much.  Her solution?  "A lollipop will make him feel better."  Yeah, don't think she gets the concept of eating too much.

Also, my Grow Boxes arrived today!  Yes, I fell prey to the evilness of advertising and ordered some out of a magazine.  I did a bit of research on them beforehand, though... and they did have good reviews.   (Reviews that I found independent of the company's website.  Of course the company wouldn't ever say if their product stunk.)
     This is how they looked when they arrived.  (My Fedex guy does NOT like me right now, though I honestly don't think they were THAT heavy.)

I unpacked one box first and these are the pieces that were included. 

Top: Bottom portion of box; Left: fertilizer patches; Right: Top part of Grow Box

     They were super easy to set up.  I got all ten finished in about half an hour by putting them together, assembly-line style.  Once they were done, I moved them to their spot in the backyard.  I did discover that the ground isn't as flat as I thought.  So before I add the potting mix, I'm going to either:

a.)  Pull out my shovel and dig into the ground to level it a bit.
b.)  Prop the front up with scrap lumber, bricks, or something else. 

     I'm not too keen on the athestics of option b, so I'm going to give "a" a shot first.  Here they are, all lined up and ready to be filled with dirt (after they've been leveled to my satisfaction).

     Finally, the last project I've worked on was my attempt to make twill-tape clothing labels.  An epic fail if ever there was one, however, the technique is definitely good for other things.  These did not hold up in the wash, even after attempting to heat seal the ink with an iron.  The ink disappeared completely and the ends frayed.  Talk about a letdown.  I was trying to stay away from heat-transfer labels because I'd read that they frayed, but... oh well.

     However, if you wanted to use this to print your own custom ribbon to embellish small boxes, cards, what-have-you.  It would definitely work for that... as long as you don't plan on it ever being washed. 

The labels-

1/2" x 2"

The process-

     Step 1- Open up a Word document and put your logo image in there (you can adjust the size, then just select the image, hit CTRL+C then CTRL+V to copy repeatedly).  Space it how you want it.

     Step 2-  Print.  Take note of how your printer prints and how the paper is loaded so you can print again easily in Step 5.

     Step 3-  Put double-sided tape directly over the printing.  (I did not try this in landscape format, only portrait... I don't know how it would work in landscape, but I may give it a shot to see if I can increase the length of uninterrupted printing.)

     Step 4- Place twill tape (or satin ribbon, or similar item you would like to print) directly over the double-sided tape... pressing firmly to secure.  If you want to check placement, hold the paper up to a window or light source and see how it lines up.  Looking at the backside will help you to see your logo more clearly and the shadow of the twill or ribbon will show the placement.

Add twill or ribbon and press firmly.

     Step 5- Print.  Make sure you know which way your printer prints so you can send the paper through the same way it originally went through.
     Step 6.  Cut and fray check the ends to make sure they don't unravel.

      Use as desired.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Crochet Octopus and New Baby Blankets.

    If you know how to crochet and are looking for a fun project, head on over to Ruby Submarine and pick up one of Leah's octopus crochet patterns.  It is too stinkin' cute and the pattern is very clear and easy to understand.  She's got other patterns as well, but the octopus is the only one that I've tried, thusfar.

    The result?

    Now tell me that little cephalopod isn't in need of a nice, squishy cuddling. 

    When I ordered the yarn, I went ahead and got 4 different colors.  Cam picked the red (though I didn't tell him what I was making), Kai gets green, Scarlett wanted pink (of course), and I'm making another one for the baby (due at the end of August) that is going to be orange.  Our house is going to be full of these little guys.  :)

     Speaking of the baby (whom my son, Kai, wants to name "T-rex" if it's a boy or "Cheesy the Cowboy" if it's a girl), I've also been working on a few blankets.  I figure that the blankets that aren't gender-neutral will make good gifts for other people's munchkins.

     The first blanket was originally going to be a patchwork dress for Scarlett, but it looked way to "quilt-like" so that's what I decided to do with it. 

    The quilt top.  Haven't put batting or a backing on yet, but I'll probably do that in the next few days.

    And the next blanket I made was my first attempt at working with Minky fabric.  I was pretty happy with how it came out, and I tried to keep it pretty gender-neutral.

   Will post more pics when the other octopuses are complete and future baby projects.