03 February 2015

It's about Time (that I got Crafty!)

I cannot believe it's been almost 3 months since I last posted. Well, alright, I can. You know how it is.

I'm still working on the great New Year's Resolution of 2010, where I simplify and focus, but with an active 6-year-old, the end of grad school in sight, work drama, and 2 1/2 seasons of Nashville to catch up on by tomorrow, I haven't been doing so well. And this blog has suffered for it. Oddly enough, the answer was to sign up for an art class with my cousin.

It was exactly what I needed. Two-ish hours of good company, no distractions, Mod Podge - and something to post about. Heaven.

We took the mixed media house class at JBO's and I'm already itching to make something else. I might do another house - there are several things I'd do differently - or maybe something new. We'll see. In the meantime, this masterpiece has a place of honor in my living room, where it makes me smile every time I see it.

Have you ever created a mixed media piece? How much do you love Mod Podge? Let me know in the comments!

06 November 2014

CraftFail: When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong

Whether you want to admit it or not, we’ve all been there. We’ve all seen a cute little craft project on Pinterest or a crafter’s blog and thought, “I can do that!” – only to find out 4 frustrating hours later (not that I was counting) that no you cannot.

I used to hide these craftfails deep, deep, deeeep in my trashcan. Away from myself. Away from my husband. Away from my son, who for some reason still thinks I’m pretty awesome. I also hid them from my mind. That yarn-wrapped balloon ball thing? Never happened. That yarn-wrap wire ornament? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

But somewhere along the way, I stumbled across CraftFail.com. It was like the angels were singing to me. Or the craft fairies. Someone was definitely singing.

Now that I think about it, I think it was me. I don’t suck! I’m not alone. Those directions were for sh*t.

The woman behind CraftFail.com, Heather Mann, just released an awesome collection of some of the best (worst?) craftfails known to crafterkind. Now available at your local bookstore, CraftFail: When HandmadeGoes Horribly Wrong is definitely worth a read.

Besides the failed yarn balls, I related to several of the other projects in the book, and I’m sure you will, too. But what scared me the most was the projects in the book that I have pinned to do! Craftfails just waiting to happen! Do I even bother trying them now? Knowing me, probably not. No microwaved soap fluff. No hula hoop-woven rug.

After reading the intro to Heather’s book and asking her a few questions, I think she’d be very disappointed in me. After all, she becomes excited when she fails. No, really. It’s true.

“I used to avoid trying anything that I thought I might not do well,” Heather said. “Since starting CraftFail, not only have I been more likely to try crafts that I might botch horribly, but I’ve become excited whenever I fail, or event when I see other people fail. I’m not excited because of someone’s misfortune, but more because of the opportunity for growth and learning.”

Oh. That makes a lot of sense.

Heather says in her book that unrealistic expectations are a major contributing factor in craftfails. In addition, being unprepared, including missing or wrong supplies, can be to blame.

After reading CraftFail: When Handmade Goes Horribly Wrong, I realized that, man, am I uptight. I’m supposed to be doing something I love, crafting, and instead I’m beating myself up because I’m not Martha Stewart. Heather said she got catharsis from sharing her failures, something I’m slowly starting to understand.

As I come to terms with the fact that craftfails are, sadly, a part of crafting, I take comfort in some advice Heather shared with me:

“Baby steps! You don’t have to be thrilled next time you fail, but give yourself a little bit more room to breathe. YOU aren’t a failure; you just made something that didn’t work. If it makes it easier, think of it as a prototype or a first draft.”

Good advice from the self-described “failure enthusiast”.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review; all opinions are my own.

24 October 2014

The Time has Come ... for Me to Watch Goonies

It's a widely known fact that I didn't watch a lot of "normal" movies growing up. No ET. No Harry and the Hendersons (that I remember). No The Christmas Story. With one TV in the house, we were often stuck watching what my dad was watching, which more often than not were war movies. And some action-adventure thrown in for good measure. Hamburger Hill. Platoon. Deliverance. Not exactly PG.

I didn't realize how odd this was until I got older and failed to recognize some pretty basic pop culture references. I don't have a favorite John Hughes movie, for example. And I don't know anything about ET, except that he likes Reese's Pieces.

Besides ET, I get picked on the most for not having seen Goonies and Stand By Me. Honestly, in my head, they are the same movie. They're both scary (right?). They both have a chubby kid, who I think is played by Jason Bateman. (Wait! Jerry O'Connell? One of them, I'm sure.)

I'm almost positive that most of Goonies takes place underground. (This I know from the Atari game we bought at a garage sale in 1987-ish.) And I think there's a train in Stand By Me. Maybe a big house on a hill in one or both of them? Someone does the truffle shuffle. I think it had something to do with mushrooms.

Oh, and the Coreys had to have been in them! (They were everywhere back then, including taped to my bedroom wall.)

I know I've gotten a lot, if not all, of the facts wrong, but tonight, I'll be halfway to normal. Tonight I'm going to watch Goonies. I know you'll all want to know what I thought. I might live Tweet my reactions. Yes, it's that big of deal.

What movies did you miss the first time around? What 80s movies do I need to watch? Is Goonies really going to be as good as everyone says? I guess I'll know tonight.

13 October 2014

Inspiration from a 20-year-old Confession

OK. I admit it. This post isn't going to be nearly as exciting as the title would indicate. I'm just having a bit of fun over-dramatizing this little project.

A year or so ago, my friend Tiffany reminded me that back in the day, 19-ish years ago, I used to point the Big Dipper out to her. I don't remember doing this, but it does sound like something I would do. She then admitted that all those times (I really hope it was, like, 3, otherwise I was a bigger dork back then than I thought), she only said she saw it, when really she didn't.

So, for her birthday this year, I whipped up this Big Dipper cross-stitch using some navy Aida and glow-in-the-dark thread. This way, she can't miss it.

I free-handed this project, something I have very little confidence in doing. Luckily, the Big Dipper isn't too complicated, and I guess I've been picking it out of the sky for years. I did pull up a clip art version of the stars online to reference while I was stitching.

Using the Aida was a bit frustrating, since I've been sticking mostly to linen lately (I forgot how stiff Aida could be), and the thread gave me troubles as well. I used all 6 strands on the big stars, but only 3 on the small stars and lines. The 3 lost its twist the second I separated it, so up close it's not as pretty as I would've liked. All in all though, it turned out pretty good (and, yes, it really does glow in the dark!).

This project reminded me why I craft. Making something meaningful for Tiffany, that has no meaning to anyone else, is an amazing feeling.

10 October 2014

I'm a Crafting and Creating Fool!

Just like with everything else - reading, crafting, work - sometimes I get behind on this blog. Usually that's a good thing because it means I'm reading, crafting, or, well, working. On the flip side, it means I'm not writing, which is truly one of my first loves. Today, though, I found some time to blog - and the best part is that I'm going to write about the crafts and creations I've been working on!

First up, an invitation for my friend Lynn's daughter's birthday party. Lynn "commissions" me to make invitations for her son and her daughter's birthdays every year, a job I love. Lynn is the world's best and worst client in that she is usually "happy with whatever" I want to do. That gives me creative freedom, but it also means I'm starting with a blank slate. Blank slates can be intimidating.

After multiple, multiple options, Lynn and Emily settled on this cute card, perfect for an 11-year-old:

Next up, my very first T-shirt design! It was really exciting to see a design of mine on fabric, instead of paper:

My favorite thing about this project is that amazing Nature font. Up close, it looks like grass on the bottom and a starry sky on top. Beautiful.

I've also been continuing my re-found love of cross-stitching, completing 3 projects last month!

The first gave me a little trouble, but was well worth it in the end. My coworker asked me to make her something with the phrase "But first, coffee." on it. The medium was up to me. I immediately knew I wanted to cross-stitch or embroider something, but I also wanted to keep her aesthetic, which is a little different than mine, in mind.

I got inspired by this adorable burlap fabric and got started:

It wasn't long before I hit my first snag: this fabric unraveled faster than I could figure out how to stop it! The orange border helped, but I still wasn't confident that it was going to hold together. The next snag came when my free-handed letters didn't line up. Luckily, a quick free-handed coffee mug fixed that right up! The last snag came when I couldn't figure out how to finish it. I tried a bunch of options, but none seemed right, until I remembered that I had some coffee bean fabric leftover from a previous project! I tore that into strips, wrapped a paper mache frame and viola:

The last project I can share today was for Wendy, a huge Nightmare Before Christmas fan, made following a free pattern from Capes & Crafts:

According to Wendy, I did OK! :-)

I have one more project to share, but the recipient doesn't get it until tomorrow, so I'll update then!

Happy crafting!