Monday, July 30, 2012

Decorating in the Colour of Retro

The retrovations continue....

 We recently purchased scads of fabric to make curtains for the living room / dining room windows. We're planning on using all three of these fabrics and the new geranium flowers somehow. I think the turquoise will be just an accent and the citron will be the main colour...... But things often change.

 These colours are already in the living room on the stool.

 and the colours are in the kitchen on the cafe curtains.....

and the cupboards....

 and they're in the dining room on the accent wall.
I am all excited to get started on the new curtains but cutting into that much fabric makes my knees a little weak. 

Any encouraging thoughts? 
Tips to bolster my nerves?
How do you gather the guts to cut into large amounts of fresh new fabric?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Decorating with Grandma Maggie's Geraniums

We're still working on our house retro-vations. We went to Fabricland and picked up some yardage for dining room and living room curtains and we wanted to add a splash of red. The first thing I thought of as inspiration was my Grandma Maggie and her red geraniums. She used to always have a pot wintering over on the kitchen window sill and this cheerful pest repelling bloom will always remind me of her.
I wanted to make my own design so I started with STAEDTLER fimo effect in red glitter. I wanted to reproduce the design quickly and easily so I picked up some Easy Mold from Above Ground Art Supply in Toronto.

I started by making a cabochon shaped blob of clay and laying some teardrop shaped petals in groups of five onto it. I created some texture by adding indents to each petal with a sculpting tool.

I kept adding overlapping flowers until the cabochon was full. I dotted the center of each flower with a poking tool.

Here is the finished piece. I baked it in a 230 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes and allowed it to cool completely before the next step.

I made a smaller piece too. I wasn't sure exactly how big I wanted the piece and I've never used this mold making product before so I wanted to have some choices later.

I pulled out equally sized blobs of each of the two mold making components. It was much softer than I anticipated and almost odorless. 

I squished the two balls of product together just like I was mixing fimo colours together. The instructions said I had three minutes to mix but I didn't even need half that time to get a complete colour blend and start molding.

I made the mold medium into a smooth ball to avoid creases in the finished mold. My piece was thin so I opted to push the mold medium onto the piece instead of the piece into the mold medium. I started by placing the blob of easy mold on top of the piece and pressing firmly and evenly until the piece was covered.

After the top of the piece was covered I pressed the easy mold down into the sides of the piece. I made sure to push the medium into all the creases and dents of the baked fimo piece.

I let the curing mold sit with the piece in it for 30 minutes. The instructions said it only needed a 25 minute cure time but I wanted to be sure it was cured before I touched it. I un-molded the original and had a look inside. I have to admit, so far this has been REALLY easy! I think I'm going to be using this product for all kinds of future projects.

I started to make castings right away! I softened more STAEDTLER fimo effect in a couple of colours. I made little balls of clay and smooched it into the molds. The molds remain flexible so I could flex the molds to get the unbaked soft clay out easily without distorting the design. The instructions on the easy mold tell me that I can bake the clay right in the mold up to a temp of 400 degrees. That means I can create designs with even more detail and not worry at all about distorting the designs in the un-molding process. I can cure the duplicates right in the mold and flex the mold to release them after they've hardened.
Have you guys tried this cool product yet?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Funkified Nail Art

Picked up some Joe Fresh colours today and decided to paint me some funkified nails. 
Hope to get some sewing and home improvements done this weekend. Getting my fingers all ready for hard labor. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Swiss Chard Time!

Every summer since... well... forever, we've been lucky enough to be included in a very special list of people.   My best girlfriend's parents own a beautiful farm and have a kitchen garden that is very prolific. They keep a list of lucky people who they give extras to.... and we're on it.
They just gifted us with all kinds of fresh yummies but my favorite is the rainbow chard. Thought I'd share how we keep these delicious greens fresh just in case you've never done it.

 First I scrub out the sink and rinse it. Then I fill it to the top with icy cold water. I put in handfuls of chard and bounce it up and down and back and forth until any dirt or insect "friends" are dislodged.

I lay out a clean tea towel and put three or four layers of clean paper towels over it. Then I check the front and back of each leaf and shake off any extra water and lay the leaves on the paper towel overlapping them to blot off most of the rest of the water. Sometimes I put two or three layers of leaves on top of each other with paper towels in between each layer.

Then I lay another few layers of clean paper towel over the leaves and roll the whole thing up inside the tea towel. I pop the roll into the fridge and it will keep nice and fresh and crisp for almost a week.
I think this is one of the most anticipated times of year for me. It means the beginning of the start of the leading edge of the end of summer.... and that means fall is coming...... and that means......


By the way, just in case you didn't know, chard goes really, really well with bacon!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Alphabet Noodle Letters for Stamping Clay

Mom and I were looking at some recipes online when we happened upon one for alphabet soup. When we saw the image of the alphabet noodles strewn into the pot we got the idea to use them as stamps to create sentiment jewelry. 

Here's what you'll need to create your own:

Some scrap clay left over from another project to make your stamp base
A clay colour to use for the sentiment banner. I used STAEDTLER fimo effect 505 mint
Super glue
bag of alphabet pasta I used Italpasta
Acrylic paint that contrasts with the clay colour you have chosen. I used mustard yellow
small stiff paintbrush
medium grit nail file or sand paper
Beads and findings to turn the sentiment banner into jewelry pieces

Dump out some alphabet pasta and spell out some words. Make sure all the letters you pick are the most perfectly shaped you can find.

Soften some left over clay and shape into 1cm thick sections that will fit your word. Place the letter pasta into the clay in reverse. If you want to double check the spelling you can hold the stamp up to a mirror.
Bake the pasta word fimo stamps in a preheated 230 degree oven for 15 minutes and allow to cool.

Put a drop of super glue onto each pasta letter, allowing the glue to seep around the pasta onto the clay. This will make sure the little letters will stay in place over many uses.

Roll out some STAEDTLER fimo in any colour you'd like to about 1/2cm thick and brush some corn starch onto the surface of the sheet to act as a mold release. Stamp the word into the clay sheet firmly without wiggling it.

Cut away any unwanted clay around the words and shape the clay as desired. Now is a good time to insert jewelry findings like eye hooks. Bake the pieces in a preheated 230 degree oven for 15 minutes and let them cool off before handling them.

Load a stiff brush with a contrasting acrylic paint colour and mush the paint into the letter indents.

Wipe off any extra paint with a damp cloth before the paint dries. Remove and glue into place all eye hooks using super glue.

Use a medium grit nail file or sand paper to file away any paint that has clung to the surface of the pieces.

Give each piece two coats of STAEDTLER fimo gloss varnish, allowing each piece to dry between coats.

There are so many different ways to use these banners. Keep me updated on how you decide to use them.  I can't wait to experiment more.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sand Dollar Cane Tutorial

We made Auntie J and The A Man some mini sand dollar beads to add to wedding things.
Here's how we did it.

Things you will need to make some mini sand dollars of your own:

Clay cutter
Pointed tool
Parchment paper

Condition some fimo effect translucent clay until it's nice and soft and shape it into a long diamond profile cane. Mine was three cm tall and one cm wide.

Cut the long cane into five pieces. These will become the inner star on the sand dollar.

Condition some fimo soft white clay and make a long triangle profile cane. Each side is about 1.5 cm.

Cut the triangle cane into five lengths that match the translucent diamond profile cane pieces in length. Flatten one edge of the triangle cane so it becomes approximately 2cm by 1cm. These triangle cane pieces will fit between the diamond pieces. Alternate the shapes to form a star.

Make sur the pieces are tight together and begin to fill the rest of the space between the star arms with leftover white clay worms.

Once the translucent star is completley and evenly surrounded by white clay worms, you can flatten more white clay to a 1/2 cm thick sheet.

Cover the sides of the cane with the sheet of white clay making sure not to leave gaps or voids.

Cut off the extra clay with a clay cutter.

Start to reduce the size of the cane by gently squeezing the middle of the sides of the cane. Press evenly and little bits at a time.

Squeeze the cane like this until you have a fairly even cylinder.

Roll the cane on a flat surface to make it even smaller in diameter. I stopped reducing when my cane was about 1.5 cm across.

Trim back the ends of the cane until you get to a use-able part. The ends of the cane will distort while reducing.

Cut off 3/4 cm slices of the cane. Turn the cane after every second cut to avoid flattening the cane too much.

Lay the cane slice cut side to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and flatten with your fingers. I left the middle of each sand dollar a little bit mounded and tapered them out to a thin edge. Then I took my pointed tool and made five slits of holes in each bead. I tried to keep them irregular in spacing. 

Bake the beads in a preheated 230 degree oven and let them cool off before you use them.

I'm in love with these little beads. You can use them for a huge amount of projects. I made earrings and brooches, charms and a necklace pendant or two.

Here are some sand dollar beads paired up with some other beachy items. Here is a link to how I made the coated seashells if you interested.

and here's a sneak peek of the next project.............

These beads are awesome mostly because of the transparent fimo effect clay. They remain simple white accents but the translucent clay lets light shine through the beads and they really are spectacular in the sunshine. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Sand Dollar Bowl for Carrying the Rings

Auntie J and The A Man are getting hitched right there on the beach this week. It's going to be so beautiful. I can't wait to see the pictures. We made them a few little pretties so they would know how much we love them. We're going to share all the instructions with you so maybe you can make some pretties for folks in your family tree who are climbing matrimony mountain. 
Enjoy and share.
Auntie J and The A Man live at Sand Dollar Cottage all year long. What a beautiful little spot they have and it's packed to the rafters with love and giggles. We wanted to make them some Sand Dollar themed accessories for their wedding and came up with a ring bowl. 

Here are the products you'll need to complete this project.

Smooth dome shaped glass container without seams or ridges to use as a mold for your bowl. Mine was about 12 cm wide.
parchment paper to work on
plastic wrap to use as a mold release
rolling pin for clay use
craft knife
star shaped scrap of lace to add texture to the center of the bowl
acrylic craft paint (or Genesis Heat Set Oil Paint) in soft salmon, dusty blue and white
large soft flat paintbrush
pretty ribbon to tie your rings to the bowl

 Snip a small bit of star shaped lace to decorate the middle of the bowl. This part is optional. you can also use a flower shape or a monogram to add interest.

 Roll the clay out onto your parchment paper protected surface. Roll until the clay sheet is 3/4cm thick.

 Use a bowl to press a circle into the clay. My bowl was about 15 cm across. Place the star shaped lace into the center of the clay and roll over it so it's deep into the clay.

 Cut away all the clay outside the circle the bowl left. Cut five slits into the clay to make the clay disc look more like a sand dollar. Smooth the edges off all the cuts with a wet finger.

 (Not shown) Cover the dome shaped glass with a smooth layer of plastic wrap. The plastic wrap will make it much easier to release the dried clay bowl from the dome. 
( seriously..... don't skip this step!)
Place the disc of clay over the dome, lace side in and gently smooth the clay over the dome shaping it as you go. Take care to keep the slits open.

 Check to make sure the design on the inside of the bowl is centered. This is a great example of why I like to use clear glass. It makes it much easier to see how the finished design will look as you're working on it.

 Add a worm of clay to the bottom of the bowl forming a ring. Press firmly to create a bond between the clay surfaces. Make sure it's even by placing the bowl right side up on a flat surface. I also engraved the year onto the bottom of the bowl with a pencil tip.

 I turned my edges back a bit to soften the design.

 Let the bowl dry on the glass dome for a day. After the piece has dried through gently remove it from the dome and remove the lace star bit. Let the inside of the piece dry for another day before painting.

 I used Genesis heat set oil paints to colour and seal my bowl but acrylic paint and a good water based varnish will do the trick also. I painted the outside of my bowl with a dusty blue and the inside with a soft salmon and cured it. (if using acrylic, let the paint dry before the next step.)
After the paint is cured (dry) I dry brushed white paint over the entire bowl and cured (dried) the paint again.

After coating the piece in a layer of varnish and curing (drying) one final time. I tied a ring to the inside of the bowl with some fairy tale ribbon. 
This ribbon said, "and they lived happily ever after......."