31 May 2007

A Rose-y Sort of Moment (Silk Painting and ACEO)

As other Etsians know fairly well, I love to trade. I think bartering is one of the best concepts mankind ever came up with, and it's a shame that we don't do it more. Lucky for me, many Etsians feel the same way, and I'm even luckier to have found some amazing artists to trade with.

Take StaciRose, creatrix behind (surprisingly enough) Staci Rose Designs. She makes the most incredible positive energy jewelry I've seen in quite some time. Her work is amazingly affordable and stunningly beautiful. I *always* get compliments when I wear her work.

Anywhoo, she has a listing up for customized earrings for mothers, and I thought they would be perfect for my mother-in-law. I asked her if she'd be willing to trade, and she said yes. But she wanted something special. Something custom. An original ACEO.

I confessed that my ACEOs are nothing more than photographs of my silk paintings, and she was fine with that. She wanted something original, that I came up with. Well, my other (until now) unspoken confession is that I haven't been inspired to paint in awhile, but I've missed it. I've been wanting to do something nature-inspired, so I sent her a list of words that I wanted to work with to get her reactions. I based my painting off of those (granted, I don't think a single one of the words I provided or her associations are directly in there, but I do know that they helped me get an idea out of my head and onto the silk).

This painting was the first I've done that involved multiple resist applications. There were areas that I wanted to have color-on-color, with no white-space in between, so I had to move back and forth between the sink, the iron, and the painting table in order to get all the colors laid down. I also wanted to provide a "ready to hang" painting, and I know from experience that silk is extremely difficult to mat and frame. So I placed it into a hoop with a hanging loop.

The image itself was simple. The sun in the sky over mountains with snow, the arid hills, a fertile meadow, a flowering bush, and a brook with fish in it. It encompassed the changingness of the water, had a decent amount of color, showed the life that eminates from the sun... I was originally going to try and encompass all four seasons, but after wrd association, it seemed like I should go in a different direction. I overlayed colors in the meadow and I salted the stream and and the sky. The finished painting turned out far better than I originally thought it would.

Setting it in the hoop was an entirely different story. I ended up using scissors, a hot glue gun, and gads of patience. The result is a 5.5 x 4" oval original... the smallest I've done yet. It makes a pretty nice ACEO, too.

Lessons learned:
1) Put the silk in one hoop size larger than your finished hoop so you don't have to cover the gap lines
2) Salt is cool
3) Baby wash is a multi-tasker
4) Multiple resist painting is challenging and fun

I just hope Staci is as impressed as I am.

24 May 2007

How to Submit for Publication Without Really Trying

I have a passion for paper products; I've never really been into emailed thank yous over the real "card in hand" experience. I love to write. I love the feeling of pen on paper, especially when said pen is my favorite fountain pen (my friend for about 8 years and counting). So it should come as no surprise that I prefer planning my days on paper instead of on a Palm or Treo or other such device (although I do use iCal occasionally). My planner of choice is the We'Moon series. I love the stories, the poems, the graphics... if only they had a page per day format (I've actually considered punching holes in the thing and combining it with my Franklin Covey planner so I have the best of both worlds, but alas, I am lazy).

Anyway, I got an email from We'Moon today (I am on their mailing list) with a call for submissions to their 2009 planner. Now, I've never had anything published or reproduced, and I thought, "Hey, why not try?". And so I sit at my computer, watching my printer crank out copies of all of my goddess silks to submit for consideration. There's no money in this (unless I somehow make the cover of the planner), just the opportunity to share my work with other like-minded womyn, but it would be incredibly cool to be happily planning my day and stumble across my own work. That would be a real boost to my day.

So wish me luck. I won't hear back until this time next year, but it's worth the wait!

22 May 2007

Eco-Friendly Trick #1: Plastic Bag Yarn

For my first trick, I will tell you how to make plastic bag yarn.

You will need:
* A measuring device of some sort (I like quilting rulers)
* A cutting device of some sort (a rotary cutter is my preference)
* A work surface of some sort (I prefer my sewing table with cutting mat on top)
* Lots of plastic bags (the standard grocery bag, known in the industry as a "t-shirt" bag, works great)
* A ton of patience

To make the yarn:
1) Flatten a bag as best as possible
2) Remove the bottom seam entirely
3) Cut the remainder of the bag into strips between 3/4" and 2" (1.9 and 5 cm)
4) Interlock the resulting loops to form a 2-ply-esque yarn

The resulting yarn will have a 2-ply look and boucle-like nubs at the joins. All that's left is to run it through a ball winder (or other ball-creating gizmo) and you're set to make an Earth-friendly shopping bag, coaster, hat, or whatever else suits your fancy.

21 May 2007

Cushy, Warm & Fuzzy (Cushing's Syndrome Awareness Pendants)

I had never heard of Cushing's Syndrome before, and I imagine you haven't either. It's an endocrine disorder, the polar opposite of Addison's Disease. Basically, a hyperactive thyroid produces too much cortisol, and causes all sorts of problems. When I Googled it, I found more information on the syndrome in companion animals than I did humans.

So when Amber convo'd me asking me to modify my RAINN-y Day awareness pendants as Cushing's Syndrome pendants, I didn't know where to start. A Google search doesn't even turn up what the ribbon looks like (It's blue on one tail, gold on the other, for the record). Amber actually had to email me an image because the two I sent to her, while blue and gold, were for other diseases.

Then there was sizing. She wanted a very small pendant, less than 1", and I was worried that making it on that small a scale would make it 1) hard to tell it was a ribbon and 2) be too delicate to be stable. I ended up making one that was 1.5", and one that was just under 1". And, since she had been patient enough to wait for these through the birth of my daughter, I listed both for the price of one.

Turns out she loved them both, and was incredibly appreciative to find something that would show support for this surprisingly common but little known disease.

Lessons learned:
1) Cushing's Syndrome is near impossible to find anything about
2) 32-gauge wire may be bad for bracelets and anklets, but stands up well as a bead mesh base
3) Etsy buyers are the greatest: patient, understanding, and uber-pleasant to work with

And... now I know I can create pendants for any issue. Just ask!

Scrub-a-dub-dub Part Deux (Square Scrubbies)

I'll be honest: A part of me feels it is a waste of time to blog about these scrubbies. After all, they are, in essence, just small squares of single crochet. What is there to blog about that?

But I do have a few things to say. First, although I know that my round scrubbies work wonderfully and are an incredible improvement on the square scrubbie, Time Machine 2 on Etsy seems show that the square scrubbie is what sells. And so, I follow the market.

I still wanted to improve on the scrubbie, but again, there's not much to improve on a small square of cotton. I did go around the square in slip-stitch to give the shape some stability. I don't like unfinished edges, but I felt that a formal edging like crab or picot would either add to the bulk or just be impractical.

What was left was a small scrubbie, roughly 3x3" (larger than the majority of the scrubbies listed on Etsy) that is stabilized with slip-stitch top-stitching. They do work well; I had a woman ask me if they'd work as baby washcloths. Now that I have a newborn of my own, I can say that they work extremely well as a baby washcloth -just "scrubby" enough and not so big that it is impractical for use on the baby.

Lessons learned:
1) The market doesn't always follow ingenious design
2) There are ways to improve upon a simple design

Breaking up is hard to do (The X-Ray Bag)

A year and a month after moving into our sweet apartment, and we're still unpacking and unloading things. Scott came across his x-rays from when he broke his wrist. They're at least 15 years old, and he put them aside as "trash". I thought about that for a little bit. See, I hate trash, and I've been wanting to make something a little different. So I fished them out of the trash and asked if he'd mind if I made a purse out of them. No problemo, says he, so long as I cut his personal info off of them.

Well, duh!

So I got to work, once again, scouring the pattern books and magazines to find some inspiration. And there it was: a leather-punched panel bag. I took a few looks at at and realized I could change it up and make it an X-Ray bag. I had to choose dimensions (I felt 5x7" was just way too small), fiber (much as I wanted to use my Gedifra Velato, it is too stretchy), and closures (the pattern I saw had none, and that seemed silly).

I settled on a 10x2" flap, button closure, four 4x4" square panels, a single strap, and no lining (it's an x-ray, after all, and I wanted to show off the material. I also settled on plain-Jane Red Heart Super Saver. Normally, I'm an uber yarn snob, and I cringe at the thought of hobby store yarn. But it's been in my stash for three years, and it has the durability needed to support the x-ray film.

After much cutting, punching, stitching, and sewing, my final product came out about 11x11x1", with a cute flap, crab stitch edging, and a simple strap. I have to say that I'm pleasantly suprised by this one.

Lessons Learned:
1) X-Ray film seems flimsy, but punching holes in it will make your hand tire very, very quickly
2) A size I hook fits in a 1/4" punched hole
3) Cheap yarns that squeak are still pretty sturdy, and sometimes that's what you need

Now if only I could figure out how to tell people to clean it, I could list it. I'm thinking spot cleaning. Heat is definitely out, and I think any chemical would just ruin the film. In any case, look for this bag soon on my store!

18 May 2007

Saving Face (A Soap Saver)

The week my daughter was born, I had arranged a trade with BellaCosaArt for a couple of face scrubbies and a soap saver.

The scrubbies were already created; no big deal there, but I had to design and make the soap saver. I knew I didn't want a saver that was either too meshy (soap remnants would fall through) or too dense (too little exfoliation action), so I decided on a back loop single crochet base. I knew I hated drawstrings that were loose so that you had to tie the saver shut (you can lose the tie and it's a pain to unknot wet cotton), so I decided for a closed drawstring that relied on gravity and tension to close (both present in a shower, thanks to hanging up the saver and wet cotton). I didn't want a saver so small that an off-the-shelf bar of soap wouldn't fit, nor a saver so big that it was ineffective. I settled on a 3.5 x 5" (9.5 x 11 cm) saver. A bar of Ivory or Lever 2000 fits just as well as those I've received from cottagegardentherapi or normasbathandbody.

The finished pouch feels divine. I'll have it posted to Etsy soon for your purchasing or trading pleasure.

Lessons learned:
1) It is hard to find the time and energy to create when there's a newborn in the house
2) The simplest projects are the hardest to complete

17 May 2007

Two out of three ain't bad

Well, I was in a buy and replace treasury today, courtesy of StaciRose. She's too good to me. :) Once again, she featured my Cows on the Farm set; I'm getting the impression she really likes this one, because you have to search my store to find it.

Unfortunately, the buy never happened, but that's okay; it's time in the treasury just the same.

Thanks, Staci.

13 May 2007

If everyone loves these so much...

... why don't they sell more often?

My lovely flowers are in two more treasuries. Thanks to epicurius and stirdesigns for featuring me.

Now if only I could get people to buy these beauties...

05 May 2007

Love and Flowers

One of my flowers was featured in an EtsyFAST treasury today! Special thanks to scarywhitegirl for giving my alpaca/mohair flower some love!