Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kawaii Japanese Fabric

On my trip to Japan I bought a ton of cute fabrics, and a new suitcase to bring them back with. Most were destined for re-sale, so I cut off the difference between the meters they mesure in Japan and the Yards I am selling them in. One particularily cute fabric (the first one I sold, sorry all gone) has sparkly mushrooms in orange yellow and red on a bright pink back ground. I was hording it for a super project, and it finally found it's way to a knitting needle caddy. The grapefruit fabric also came from Japan, makes me want to live there!

Monday, March 30, 2009

How Steam is Your Punk?

So my friend Jackie has finally had the ring dropped and is planning for her wedding. Really she was just waiting for a chance to have her own steampunk convention! As one of her maids I will be required to deck out in fine fashion, and so I was surfing Etsy for inspiration!
One could quickly deck out head to toe in gear bedecked gothic finery. A bevy of old watch parts meld with gems and jewels in pieces like this. qacreates garnet ring. One wonders where all these jewlers are finding matching sets of vintage watch bodies...

Of course if you want one that still tells time you could get this wonderful leather cuff. When only a manly watch will do! Brass gears and leather are the steampunk standards.

For a more delicate arm band, bayousalvage has some mojo for you. Sweet antique skeleton keys with little scraps of lace and other goodies. If there were ever a place full of old stuff Orleans is it! A little eco-friendly too!

Of course Victorian elegance is part of the package. Grandmawasafloozy creates lovely lace things, and she has about the coolest name ever. A little thread and ribbon makes a classic accessory for any upright lady, and floozies too...

And don't forget to cover the rest of you. There are many corset and dress makers on Etsy, some are pure classical, and others more contemporary. Like Wolandandmoon and this sassy but not restrictive dress. all the black and lacing you need.

And that is how easy it is to but together a steampunk get-up. all you need now is spats and a zeppelin.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crazy Asian Food

On Wednesday the BF and I took a trip to the Asian food store, but not the little one downtown, the H Mart. This place is huge!!!
They have a large selection of exotic veggies for cheap, I got Chinese Okra (which it turns out is in fact a curcubit. Gone are my visions of epic gumbo...), Ayotes, bok choy and all manner of frozen delights. And these withered little green sticks---->

That's right folks! Okra chips. I was not expecting whole okra to come tumbling out of the bag. But they are light and crispy. They taste like... well, green. I'm sure they were good for me, and I always love an eating adventure!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Winter's not done yet!

After some weeks of 70F weather, and the blooming of spring flowers, it is necessary in Colorado that we then have our spring dump. It was coming down hard and with a nasty sideways wind all day and into this morning! The metro outliers got two feet before I even got up yesterday, and they just closed everything. But down here in the city we braved it all day, and ended with only a few inches. It's sunny now and melting, the joys of the Mile-High City!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tutorial Blog Roll!!

I started this blog as an answer to all the people who would ask - "how do you make that?" So it's time for a tutorial roll, all the bag making and other tutorials I have had. And I'm sure there will be more as I continue to make new bags and create more techniques!

First is the trio of tutorials that answers the question - "what shall I do with an old pair of pants?" The basic (like the one above). The slightly more complex (like the tree bag here).

And the tour-de-force, the Butt Bag! Like that one over there---> My favorite because not only are they really big, But they make no bones about where they come from, pants through and through. Also the tutorial showing how I make fabric covered buttons from bottle caps. Perfect for bag closures!

Then we move on to other old clothes. Like this t-shirt bag here, totally portable and surprisingly roomy! This one was even embellished because Pink hates boring...

Then we move back to other options for a pair of pants. Like this awesome knitting needle caddy. I own several, adjusted slightly for knitting needles, paint brushes, and markers.

How about a really big pair of pants? How about a really big tote bag? The flat-bottomed tote with tons of space that's easy to fill up. And it has lot's of space for a big design on the side! I could carry lot's of cupcakes in this one...

And lastly the pillow case bag. I happen to have a mother who frequents estate sales and has a rather large linen closet, so I have no shortage of old bed sheets and pillow case. perfect for bags!

My next tutorial may include bed sheet bags, corset bags, yarn fun or who knows! so get out there and start upcycling!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Art of Frogging

And no, I'm not talking about searching the swamp for slimy critters. I'm talking about recycling ugly sweaters into yarn and back again. Creatively, like Jocelyngermany's yarn, frogged and then dyed into this beautiful rainbow.
VillageBicycle found this lovely olive cotton, and couldn't help but pull it to pieces! It actually takes considerable skill and patience to undo entire sweaters.
And one has to pick out just the right sweater! A sweater that was cut after knitting and before sewing together will make lots of little scraps of yarn, not so useful. I was on a kick for greens, so here is SmartMonkey's (cute avatar!) pale green yarn, so nicely wound you wouldn't know it was used.
So if you want a great deal on yarns go to Etsy and search "recycled yarn". You'll get every thing from small skeins like this offering from My7kids.
To this Bulky rust colored lovely from WollyKnitsNBits. Some very quality stuff, from acrylic and cotton to cashmere and mohair! What thrift store do you guys shop at?
So, cheap, eco-friendly, and a great way to support the frogging habits of these fine shops. What are you waiting for? go yarn shopping!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Springtime Yarn.

Time for another batch of yarns. This time it's three pairs of skeins. One very fine sock, one medium, and one chunky bulky. The four smaller skeins are spun from pure white merino with a fine mist of dark green commercial roving.
I dyed it with three pots, yellow, green and a pale mauve. We'll see that it looks like when it's all untangled!
I also dyed a bunch of small piles of raw alpaca fleece also. Washed them several times first (quite a pile of dirt in the bottom of the sink!) but they're still full of hay bits. When I card them together much of that will come out, and most of the rest will flake off as I spin. Light fluffy color balls! They're drying in the oven right now...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Day in the Suicide Forest

I recently came across this article on CNN About suicides in Japan and the Aokigahara Forest near Mt Fuji. It is a popular place, as not only is it considered sacred, but it is truly deserted. The forest sits on a lava flow and the rolling ground made of porous and crumbling lava rock. The trees grow over the top of the rocks and the leaf litter hides huge holes. It's eerily silent. The sound of a distant highway is the only indication of direction, no streams, no slope, easy to see how one could dissipear in to these woods.
In August 2005 I went to Japan for the world's fair with some camp friends. We putzed around the countryside and ended up at a small camping joint near Mt Fuji. We go out exploring and find our way to the "Ice Cave" and "Wind Cave" at the edge of the forest. Both were discovered by people who fell into them, both require buying an entry ticket from an automated machine, and both are packed with a line of Japanese tourist. After descending into to ice cave, and waiting our turn to come back out we decided to pass on the wind cave and walk the scenic paths.
We came upon a sign that much resembles the one pictured, and a faint trail leading off into the woods. My Japanese was not amazing, but I did know the Kanji for "prohibited, stop, no mas etc.", aqnd this sign had several. Several dozen small blue and green plastic strips wound off along the path. so what did we do? Follow them. (I was determined to get arrested, everyone back home expected it.)
We follow the line of plastic strips, some began to branch off from time to time, but the bulk flowed together faded and clinging to the tree roots. after about an hour I suddently notice a very strange thing... an umbrella hanging from a tree branch. Always practical, I take it down and bring it along, it rains a lot in Japan.
Another half hour, the plastic strips are dwindaling, and we come upon another strange thing. An empty backpack, some toiletries, and a pair of shoes; all somewhat faded and weathered. I left those, seemed creepy. At this point we've lost all but the smallest traces of our plastic lead lines, and we're a little worried about getting out of the forest. Then we burst through the bushes into someones back yard, follow the road back to the highway, and have some aisu-curemu at a small shop. Later we found out that we were lucky to not stumble upon a dead body. So travel with Pink if you want to see the things they don't show tourist!!!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Smoky Hill High School Spring Craft Fair

Yeah! It's fair time again. Tomorrow I'm off to Smoky Hill High in hopes that those suburban moms want to drop some cash on my lovely goods. If you're in Denver come on out, 9-4 free parking and admission!! See you there!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Slowly We Learn

"History doesn't repeat it's self, but it rhymes..." Ever since Malthusian Economics hit the scene we've been well aware, as human beings, that we're using up lots of stuff and we're going to run out. Here's a little gem from 1978, educational comic from Disney on the problem. Amusing? Yes. True? Even more so. BTW copyright of Disney etc...
The Comic consist mainly of Micky beating up on Goofy, telling him how to keep house, drive, even load his car. All in the name of conservation. (I've never liked Micky, but this is good) Then they have a trippy hallucination with a mini sun talking about the energy supply.
Do you know any kids who have seen a candy scale that looks like that? A candy scale period? And look at these little guys, strangely anthropamorphic, super excited to safe energy. Scary.
Then little Sun starts talking about "futuristic" electricity sources. Like solar panels. If you remember that little quite man named Carter? He put some on the White House. Regan took them down, talk about petty rivalries!
He also covers wind and geothermal, not new technologies even at the time, but growing. Then we get into the weird stuff...
And Fusion! Any one remember cold fusion? *Laughs rediculously*
So then of course it's up to busy-body Micky to come weatherize Goofy's house (why don't I have friends like that? Garden digging party, my place, Sunday)
And as talking about saving money is all the rage now, here's some things to help one use less. The news has been full of stuff about saving money, sometimes via conservation. Nothing's new folks. 1978 we were preaching this stuff to kids, and we still don't have a clue.
Click on the pictures for a larger view to read these pearls of wisdom - "use a fluorescent bulb instead of an incandescent". Tell me more Goofy.
Perhaps thirty years from now, people will be looking at the conservation tips on magazines and news shows wondering why the heck we didn't do anything...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Phoenix Teapot Pt. II

What can I say, I like getting dirty! I was back in the studio yesterday playing in the mud again. Though, doing this stage of the process doesn't make nearly the kind of mess I like. After adding a rough outline last time, I continues with the basic carving.
Get the basic shapes scratched out and the edger smoothed and it's time for the third take. At this stage it's quite dry and the clay comes off in little flakes.
I have to be careful when I press in to make the indents that I don't just break the pot in half! Took lotsa muscle, and a steady hand. The third pass goes somewhat quickly, as I'm mostly making everything flow smoothly together- Scraping the scratch marks down and rubbing out tool marks.
After the pot dries I'll do one final pass before commiting it to the kiln Gods. My biggest worry is cracks between the phoenix and the pot.
Here, by the way is the Hiroshige Print that this is all based on, a lovely piece with excellent detail. I am looking forward to doing more pots like this, but I'm running out of cool mythalogical animals...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Methuselah Lives!

Well, garden time is upon us again, and the Purple Pepper Plant (say that 5 times...) is blooming. This is Methuselah's third season with us (what? you don't name your plants? or keep them inside for the winter?) and since he's long since given up on getting bigger he just sets on tons of blooms.
I removed the last of the summer's fruit (last summer's BTW) which was turning red from time on the vine! it was sweet and crisp, just as they should be. They should not however be one inch across, but it was getting by on very little sunlight.
I'll be giving it some fertilizer soon, and watching the volunteer tomatillos at it's base. Soon it will go out to the balcony. Three hours of sunlight every afternoon, instead of two each morning *.*

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tutorial - Reversable Pillowcase Tote

Quick, go look in your linen closet. What? No linen closet? No piles of mismatched threadbare sheets and pillow cases? What shall we do! Go to an estate sale, dig through drawers and drawers of ugly embroidered towels, tea clothes with beaded edges, oh look! There's a garish mid-century bed set. Snap it up! There's lots to be done with such good stuff.
The reason to make a reversible bag (besides the fact that they're cool...) is to make the bag stronger. Two old worn out cases, too weak on their own are strong enough together. (there's a moral there, I'm sure of it.) If your pillow case is not old and beat up, go put it on a pillow, don't cut up good stuff!
Most pillowcases are the same width, within an inch or so. Though, king sized are longer. If your pillow cases are significantly different in width, just sew up one seam to equalize them. I measure 20" down, as they are 20" across and I want a squarish tote. I then cut two strips for handles, and a pocket.
Repeat with the other case to make two sets of identical pieces. The pockets can be different, but I like a little conformity every now and then. ^.^
I add an applique to each face of the bag. You don't have to, but that would be boring. Be sure to place the applique in from the edges so it doesn't get squished around the side.
Add a pocket to the other side and sew up the bottom. I am making gusseted bottoms so it is easier to put things in the bag. Lay out the bottom edge, measure a few inches in (the number is arbitrary, I used 4", but make sure it's the same for all corners.) and pin. fold the tip in and sew across in a "T".
Do this to both sides, then sew across the bottom. It should look a little like a paper bag.
Repeat for the other pillow case, you should have two identical bags, turn them inside out.
Line up your "T"'s, and sew the ends together. make sore you have the bags facing the same way! You are just tacking the bottoms together so the bag bottom sits flatter.
Now take your strips, cut the seam out and make handles. Take one strip from each case for each handle. Sew both sides, turn out, sew both sides. The strap will actually be quite strong!
Sew up the top of the bag, the hem of the cases is already sewn so this should be very easy. Fold the bag in thirds and roll up to measure the rolled size. Cut a section of strap from one handle, and cut the other strap to be equal length. You should now have two long handles, one bag and one short strap. Choose a button and make a button hole in the end of the strap.

Sew your strap and handles on. Make sure the right side of the strap is out, and not twisted! Sew a button in the middle of the front, and the strap in the middle of the back.
Look at that, doesn't that look like a totally different bag? Versatile, sassy, very spacious and quite comfortable to carry.
And it rolls up to fit in a pocket. I great thing to carry around for an impromptu shopping expedition, or some serious dumpster diving!