Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Green Crafts to Honor Earth Day's 40th Anniversary

Happy Earth Day, everyone! What are you doing to celebrate? I've rounded up some awesome green crafting ideas from the blogosphere to share with you. I hope you find them inspiring!

First up, my absolute favorite idea: Jessica Wilson's Garden to Go tutorial, which she shared on the Craft blog. She made pretty little gift jars full of seeds from her garden, complete with costume jewelry-topped lids, to give to friends.

What a wonderful way to share plants & spread the gardening love! As an avid gardener myself, I'd love to receive a gift like this. I'm now thinking of which of my plants I can collect seeds from to make my own jars to give...

Another awesome garden-sharing idea is making your own seed tape. Amber of Giver's Log has put together a fab DIY seed tape tutorial (thanks to Rachel for sharing it on Craft!). Amber's how-to explains how to make the seed tape as well as how to turn it into a super-cute gift.

Seed tape helps a lot when planting those extremely tiny little seeds. It allows you to create nice rows with the seeds evenly spaced. And what a great way to share the bounty of your garden & inspire others to grow their own!

Along with tending the earth in the form of gardening, being a good steward of our planet includes the three R's of course! This next idea helps you reduce the amount of plastic you send to the landfill: reusable food storage bags. Bells and Unicorns, a great Etsy shop with an even better name, stocks their shop with a plethora of reusable bags in lots of sizes & pretty fabrics. They have Velcro closures & a water-resistant nylon lining for easy cleanup. How cute is this "Give a Hoot" bag?!

There are also lots of opportunities to reduce & reuse in the ways we clean our homes. One of my favorite tools is my Swiffer, but I don't like the throw-away nature of the cloths. So I was super-excited to find The Quilting Mama, an Etsy shop that offers reusable cloth Swiffer covers (among lots of other great earth-friendly products).

I bought a set of these covers & I looooove them - I highly recommend them! You just throw 'em in your washer & they're good to go for tons more uses. Here's a tip, though: give them a quick rinse under the tap to remove major dust bunnies before throwing in the laundry; they'll come out of your washing machine a lot cleaner.

Etsy has tons of awesome, earth-friendly products, of course; way too many to list here. A search for "eco friendly" comes up with over 51,000 results!

And now for the grand finale, a masterpiece of recycling (or upcycling may be the more accurate term for these): reclaimed plastic horse sculptures by Sayaka Ganz (via Craft again).

Wowee-wow-wow! I can't get over these. So beautiful, and made from discarded spatulas & the like!

I hope these craftacular ideas inspire you to come up with your own ways of honoring Mother Nature today. Please leave any awesome green crafting ideas or links of your own in the comments - thanks for reading!
{re-posted from Get Crafty, Austin!}

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's Growin' On: Happy Cacti


Well, lookee here! This little cactus (which was labeled "assorted cacti" or something equally vague, so I don't know what it's called) has been a mystery to us ever since I transplanted it directly into the ground last summer. Patrick thought it was dead, but I've been optimistic because I thought it was getting bigger. I was doubtful of the little plant's health however, because of the way its flesh started turning purple (anybody know if that's normal?). But judging by this big yellow bloom that appeared yesterday, I'd guess it's doing just fine. The two grayish, fuzzy things underneath the bloom are 2 more flower buds! Pretty exciting.


Also exciting is the abundance of new growth on this Prickly Pear. We had a bunch of cactus cuttings that we got from my parents' house down in Houston last year, but most of them froze. This one's a trooper, though!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Miss Shop Austin This Weekend!

The Lone Star Ladies Present:
Saturday, 4/17
10am - 6pm

In addition to the AWESOME VENDORS, there will be:
Goodie Bags for the first 30 shoppers!
plus a Beauty Lounge, a Cafe, & a fun Photo Booth!

It's gonna be a blast, y'all, with some rootin'-tootin' good shoppin' from lots of talented artisans! Hope to see you there! You can get your tix online or at the door. They're $10 for adults (kids 12 & under are free), with $5 going to the Frontier arts scholarship. How cool is that?!

The silly pic above was taken at last year's show; the hubs & I had a lot of fun volunteering.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Metal Roof on our Patio!


Weekend before last Patrick finished installing a new cover on our back patio. It's made of sheet metal & it looks awesome!

The original cover was made of corrugated plastic that was yellowed & unattractive. Plus, the gutters were no longer doing their job, so the fascia board on the house was rotted out & in need of repair. You can see all the gory details in my outdoor room set on Flickr, if you're so inclined.


We've got it set up with our lovely patio furniture now, too, so we're well on our way to creating our outdoor living room. More pictures coming soon...

What about you? Do you have an outdoor living space, or do you prefer to spend your down time indoors?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What's Growin' On: A Burst of Orange!

Our California Poppies are out in full force now - they're so gorgeous! Some people think of these lovely widlfowers as weeds, but I love them.

There were a bunch of California Poppy seeds in the mix we planted in our wildflower buckets. I think they make a lovely counterpoint to the pink & blue flowers.

They've also really inspired me in another fabric sculpture I'm working on, similar to my little giraffe. This new work of art is an elephant in a pretty jungle setting, with poppy-like flowers in the foreground (I'm not really going for botanical accuracy!). I'll post pics when I'm done.

Do you have California Poppies in your area? What are your favorite wildflowers?

Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

MADE: Little Giraffe Fabric Sculpture


I made something new yesterday! I'm loving creating fabric sculpture with the help of my new favorite craft product, Fabric Mod Podge! It's a fun way to use up scraps in your fabric stash. Trims, buttons & beads also make great additions.

I wanted to make a tutorial out of this, but it's more of an intuitive process than a step-by-step, and I wasn't very thorough about the photo-taking. But I'll share some pics of my process with you, & if you enjoy sculpting, just go for it! There's no right or wrong way to do it.


The Fabric Mod Podge acts as a glue & sealer in one, and it's specially formulated for use with fabric; regular Mod Podge will not work as well for a project of this nature (trust me; I've tried it). I use a small foam brush for most of the application and old junky paintbrushes for more detailed work. It's also good to use a wax paper-covered surface to work on if you want to protect your table. I've made a small, portable work surface by covering a piece of cardboard with wax paper & taping it on the back.

First, I coated a piece of checkered fabric with the Fabric Mod Podge (FMP) to serve as my background. I have found through trial & error that your finished piece will look better if the background material is coated. During the creation of your masterpiece, you may get some unintended gloops of FMP here and there that look messy on an otherwise uncoated piece of fabric. But if you coat the whole thing, they will just blend right in!

When that coated piece of fabric was mostly dry, I used a bit more of the FMP to glue the fabric to a piece of bristol board. Then I attached my first piece of brown fabric for the body of the giraffe. It was an irregular oval-shape piece that I rolled into a tube & glued the bottom sides down. You can see in the photo above that I also brushed some FMP onto the top side of the body in one area, to make the fabric stick to itself. I just wanted to get rid of some of the puffiness of the tube, but didn't want to completely lose the 3-D quality of the rolled fabric.


Then I glued down a piece of twill tape I happened to have alongside the body to create the giraffe's mane, tucking it under the body. Almost any kind of trim, or even a contrasting fabric, would make a cute mane.

The next step of attaching a second piece of fabric for the head is where it starts to get trickier. I attached the fabric in a small spot that I knew needed to be glued down, then played with it a bit. I like to practice a few different folds & twists to see what I can come up with before gluing the rest down (being gentle with the fabric & not pulling too hard, because it does take a few minutes for the glued area to dry). You just have to go with the flow, enjoy the sculpting process & try not to get frustrated.


So I folded the piece down & attached it with FMP to create the giraffe's jaw line. Then I did a twisty-foldy maneuver to create his head & one ear, which I neglected to take pics of. It was kind of difficult, because I was holding & folding with my left hand & gluing with my right - sorry!  : )


Here's the head & one ear all folded into place & glued down. I folded the mouth part under & created a rounded edge to it. I also added spots cut out of a cute floral fabric. I had coated these with FMP & let them dry before gluing them on (mainly because of that mess factor I mentioned when talking about the background - they just blend in better if coated).

I like to keep some of the fabric un-coated though to create some textural contrast between the stiffer, shinier, coated fabric & the fabric in its natural state. You can see that parts of the head & body are left uncoated - they have a softer look to them.

Again, I neglected to take pics of the final steps, but here's what I did:
- made the other ear out of a small piece of fabric & glued down
- cut a small piece of coated polka dot fabric for the muzzle
- rolled 2 little horns out of the same polka dot fabric (uncoated)
- glued on a button eye
- cut off excess mane & body fabric hanging at the bottom
- framed it in a thrifted picture frame that I had spray painted blue & voila!

Have you tried Fabric Mod Podge yet? If so, what did you make?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creative Genius: Auntie Em's Starbucks Cup Diorama

Just saw this awesome cut paper piece in Craft Magazine! Made by Auntie Em, she describes it as "an under the sea diorama! With a seahorse, a giant pacific octopus and a yellow submarine!"

I love it. Way to turn an old Starbucks cup into art worthy of saving! Several of these grouped together on a wall would make an awesome little installation!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Heart Art: Palette Knife Painting

oranges painted by Amanda Wood

This post was inspired by my friend Mandy, a fellow artist. We were both high school art teachers in the same school district just outside of Seattle (she still is). Lucky for me, she was in Austin for a couple of days & I got to hang out with her this morning.

lemons painted by Amanda Wood

We had so much fun! We grabbed some chai & breakfast pastries from Upper Crust, then had a lovely chat at The WonderCraft trailer, which is only 2 doors down. It was so great to show Mandy the creative stuff I've been doing & hear about her latest art inspirations, too!

Both of the fruit paintings above were done by Mandy. She's just recently taken a class in palette knife painting & has fallen in love with the technique. It's a really fun way to create paintings in the impasto style, in which the paint is applied very thickly to create three-dimensional effects.

Back in the days when I used to paint a lot, I enjoyed using thick, goopy paint in my paintings, too. It created this luscious texture that always reminded me of cake frosting. Seeing Mandy's latest paintings & hearing about how much she enjoyed that class got me feeling nostalgic for the paint tubes I rarely squeeze anymore and the easel that is leaning against my work room wall, all sad & neglected. Maybe I'll paint something this afternoon...

Here are some more palette knife paintings I love, found on Etsy (& available for purchase there, at quite reasonable prices). As you can see, the thickness of the paint varies widely from artist to artist...

Faces of the City LXXXII by Aja of Sagittarius Gallery

India by Aida Sabic

Out on Our Own by Donna Walker

Great Vienna XIX by Catalin

Echinacea Meadow by Beata Sasik

The smooshiest, goopiest paintings I could find are by the artist above, Beata Sasik. She really lays it on thick! Crazy, huh? I love it!

What do you think of impasto painting? Do you like the three-dimensional qualities of it, or do you prefer flatter, smoother paintings? Feel free to leave links to your favorite painters in the comments; I'd love to see 'em!
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