My Etsy Shop

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Flower Frenzy

Some of you have already heard the news: I opened a new shop on Etsy. In case you don't know, Etsy is a cool website where you can buy handmade and vintage items and art supplies directly from all sorts of artists around the world.

As Steve will attest to, I have become a bit obsessed with making fabric flowers lately. Ace is thrilled with all the craft supplies he can get his paws into. He especially likes stealing the buttons off my work table and batting them around the floor. The flower above is one I just finished this morning, shown on my new favorite sweater that I got at Macy's in Monterey (not even on sale.)

Here's the white and yellow version with some of the faux stamens. I just love using the stamens and the cool vintage plastic buttons I bought from an Etsy shop. I can't wait until I start making enough $$ so that I can stock up on some of the vintage German stamens that I have seen online at Blumchen's. I don't know exactly why, but I find these millinery supplies completely fascinating.

I'm trying to make some spring-y looking flowers lately, since it's starting to be Spring here and it will soon spread to other more Northerly parts of the country. The green button on this pink and white flower is one I've had in my button box for years. I bought it at the oddest little shop in the Kensington Market district of Toronto. It was a tiny falling apart shack run by a real character. The shop was packed with old buttons, some of them covered in years of dust. I wish I could go back there, but it's probably gone.

I'm making a lot of these flowers out of eco-fi, which is a felt that is made completely from recycled plastic bottles. So my products here are "green" as I'm atoning for my sins of drinking water from plastic bottles for all those years before I got my metal water container. What did we do before water bottles?

My friend Jean snapped up this pink and chocolate confection right away. I swear, that gal is the best friend anyone could ever have.

I also made a blue version, which is still up for grabs at my shop. I am having a blast collecting all the fabrics and ribbons and buttons. (Unfortunately, I am also collecting a whole lot of receipts for ribbon, fabric, etc.) When I try to sleep at night, my mind keeps coming up with new designs and color combinations I want to try out.

I also went to the Fillmore Goodwill store this week and bought up a bunch of wool sweaters to experiment on with fast felting or fulling. In the old days this was known as "ruining a good sweater" by washing it in hot water in the washing machine and coming out with something shrunken and fuzzy. Now it is hip and groovy to do. It's recycling, or as the fashion hipsters call it, "upcycling." I have to hide the wool sweaters because Ace loves to rip into them with his teeth. I think he likes the wooly scent. Stay tuned for new flowers made from these upcycled sweaters, okay?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Flower Power

I took an all-day seminar in making fabric flowers called "cabochons" yesterday at the Sewing Workshop. The instructor was Candace Kling, who is the author of the book The Artful Ribbon. All I can say is, "WOW!" It was so cool. The purple flower shown above was the easiest one to make, surprisingly. It is made from wired ribbon that I got at this cool shop called The Ribbonerie. Warning...don't go in will be a lot poorer when you walk out.

Shopping for the materials for the class was an adventure in itself. I'm not a sew-er, so I was not familiar with where to buy fabrics. I visited Fabrix, in my old neighborhood, on Clement Street. This is a good place for good deals on fabric, no frills, but the people who work there are nice. I got this lovely dark red silk fabric that I used to make the above rose.

I also got to visit Satin Moon Fabrics, which is almost across the street from Fabrix. Satin Moon opened in that location in 1973, a year before I moved there. It's run by two sisters and they have absolutely gorgeous fabrics. The tiny store is packed with treasures.

This flower and the one above it are made from rick rack. I was never a fan of rick rack, I always thought it looked tacky, but you can make some cool little flowers from it.

This orange rose reminds me of Arts and Crafts period paintings. This was made with expensive hand-dyed silk bias ribbon from Britex, a downtown San Francisco institution where I could easily spend a million dollars.

Here's another cute little flower made from rick rack.

This green flower was made from bias cording. I learned about so many new things yesterday: tacky glue, fray stop, doll was mind boggling. The other students in the class were also very interesting. There was a man named Bill who makes costumes for the SF Opera and worked for Beach Blanket Babylon. He was a wealth of information. There was also a woman who owns a hat shop on Valencia. I was worried that my lack of sewing skills would be a problem, but it was all sewing by hand and gluing and stuff, so not a problem. I am psyched to delve further into this new world.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Ornaments Project

Last year Martha Stewart Living magazine ran an article on how to make these pretty Christmas ornaments that look like Wedgwood jasperware ceramics, which I love. My great-grandmother, Nana, had a cookie tin in her kitchen with a Wedgwood jasperware design on it, which I remember admiring during our Sunday visits to her apartment.

Since I now have a little collection of these cool cookie molds from House on the Hill, I decided to try my hand at making the ornaments. My partner in crafts, Sharon Morris, decided she wanted to make some too. So one pre-Christmas afternoon, we embarked on this adventure.

The first thing we had to do was mix the proper color acrylic paint into Paperclay. This was nice, squishy, messy business. The latex gloves from my earthquake emergency kit came in handy. Good thing we covered the kitchen table with brown paper. (The floor was not so fortunate.) Sharon mixed up a batch of green.

I decided to work on blue. The article gave formulas for how many tablespoons of each color per pound of Paperclay to mix in. Once we got the colors nice and evenly mixed in, we followed the directions in the magazine and sprayed the molds with mold release spray and then packed in some Paperclay and set about to unmold the ornaments. Easier said than done!

The directions don't tell you this: the mold release spray has to dry before you can start molding and you need more than one coat. Even with the spray, the Paperclay was sticking in all the detail areas of the molds, so we had to scrub them out with toothbrushes, dry them and then respray with mold release spray and let that dry. Our patience wearing thin, we resorted to the blow dryer.

The pieces continued to stick in the molds. The acrylic paint we mixed in for color made the Paperclay much wetter and stickier. I decided to mix more Paperclay into mine. They still weren't unmolding cleanly, so I gave up on the mold release spray and tried brushing the molds with cornstarch. Voilá! (After finishing the project, I went to the Paperclay website and they recommend using talcum powder.)

The green was even more problematic, as the formula for the green color contained more paint than the blue did. Steve got home from work, and we still had the kitchen table all in a big mess struggling with the green ornaments. After mixing more Paperclay and cornstarch into the green mixture, and compromising our standards a bit, we were done.

Now the ornaments were to be left to air dry overnight. I guess that "room temperature" is a relative thing. It was typically chilly and wet here in San Francisco, and the darn things weren't drying after 3 days. I put them on my drawing table and trained my lamps on them up close. After a day of that treatment, they did dry.

The ornaments dried a bit lighter in color and much lighter in weight. They are quite durable now too. I brushed off any remaining cornstarch. The next step in the process was to sand and smooth the backs and sides of the ornaments. An emery board worked well for the edges. This created a bit of dust, but it was easy.

Now to paint the raised details in white acrylic. This was another process which took a lot longer than I expected. I ended up needing to paint 3 coats to get the white to look opaque enough. Mixing in some white gouache helped with the opacity. I used a tiny brush to get the little detail in the branches and sun's rays.

Using tacky craft glue, I glued loops of grosgrain ribbon onto the backs of the ornaments for hanging. I cut out decorative paper to glue over the ribbon. To finish the ornaments, I glued more of the ribbon on the edges.

It was lots of work, but a nice result. I love how the details on this cow one show up.

Finally, I put each ornament in a cello bag and tied them with colorful ribbons. Ready to ship back home to the family.