Monday, December 28, 2015

Bottled Emotions: The Victorian Edition

I have played with the theme of bottled emotions in the past, but this vintage chocolate box provoked a new assemblage: Bottled Emotions: The Victorian Edition.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Maker Surprise Balls

A lot of surprise balls

Inspired by this year's advent calendar (click here: The Mega Terrific Fabuloso Advent Calendar Surprise Ball), I decided to create some maker surprise balls for an upcoming gallery pop-up sale. The idea here is that each ball (with some exceptions) contains innards that the recipient can use to make something of their own. Below are some examples and some exceptions.

Greener than Thou Ball

Ball innards

Save the planet with this eco-conscious surprise ball: 2 seed bomb bangles (yes, jewelry that empowers you to sow greenery everywhere - see past Seed Bomb Bangles post); necklace of recycled paper beads; gold mesh bag; two foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

Make Something Chinese Surprise Ball

Ball innards

Make Something Chinese: An assortment of gorgeous Chinese pendants including a 2" faux ivory frog, a faux ivory ring, and three carved stone fish; cord for stringing; and two foil-wrapped chocolate coins. Make pendants or perhaps use for decorative pulls for shades or lamp cords.

Primitive Beads Surprise Ball

Ball innards

Primitive Clay Bead Make Project: Create some gorgeous things with contents that include an small embroidered pull string bag from a Hmong hill tribe; 12 large carved clay beads; string for putting together something amazing; and two foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

Bruja Magic
Ball innards

Create some Bruja Magic! "Bruja" means "witch" in Spanish. Ball includes an assortment of magic talismans from Oaxaca including a packet of "Legitimate Powder; I have you tied up and spiked" (a love potion?); a small good fortune bag with a little picture of a saint outside and lots of little seeds, beads, and a mysterious vial inside; a milage (good luck charm) in the shape of a bird; a hand-cut, hand-painted tin hand with a heart in the palm, suitable for a pendant or wall hanging; and two foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

For the Young and Young-at-Heart

Ball innards

Above is one of the exceptions, though I suppose making fun could be considered a legitimate make project. This is the only ball I made for children, and it is in the shape of a fish. Contents include a mini-Slinky, a small finger flashlight, a small goldfish notebook, a toy car, and a foil-wrapped chocolate coin.

I could continue . . . I made dozens of balls. The transferable idea here is that if you are a maker yourself, you have accumulated an excess of supplies by now and you can use some of them to make some intriguing surprise balls, fostering the maker concept in a most entertaining way.

If you'd like to see the balls above and more up close and personal, below is a flyer for the pop-up gallery show.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fused Plastic Soft Sculpture: The Bruja Apron

Fused Plastic Bruja Apron

A second fused plastic soft sculpture - the Bruja Apron. Bruja means witch or medicine woman in Spanish. The first fused plastic sculpture was The Betty Apron, which was all sweetness and light. This apron takes a walk on the dark and mysterious side.

Front detail

The apron is fashioned from fused plastic bags, stitched and appliqu├ęd to form the apron.


Back view


Back button detail


Scroll through the fused plastic category on this blog to see other fused plastic creations, from shoes to a maker project on pop-up banner installations, to lanterns, to Barbie clothes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Mega Terrific Fabuloso Advent Calendar Surprise Ball

One of many layers

It is a challenge coming up with a totally new advent calendar concept every year. Past attempts have included walnuts, beribboned bonbons, and evolving haute couture (click here to see efforts from years gone by).

This year the calendar revolves around the idea of an old fashioned surprise ball. You unwind the crepe paper streamer to find the treats inside. This time around the treats include the usual foil-covered chocolate coins, and an assortment of hand-painted tin ornaments from Oaxaca. The balls come with an English-Spanish translation sheet (e.g., butterfly = mariposa). The vision is that the recipients will savor the chocolate, decorate their tree, and learn a little Spanish as the month of December unfolds.

Hand-painted tin ornaments

Foil-covered chocolate coins

Each layer is a different calendar day, each is a different color, and each is decorated completely differently.  There are 25 in total, and you may peruse a sampling below.

How big is the final ball? Bigger than you head.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fused Plastic: The Betty Apron

Meet Betty: back view

This is what I am calling a "fused plastic soft sculpture." The apron theme was inspired by the wonderful apron-making ladies of San Miguel del Valle. This piece was intended to go entirely another way, but I discovered fused plastic has a mind of its own. The fusing of old plastic bags created an assortment of new plastic textile pieces. I then fused or stitched those pieces together to create the sculpture.

Fused plastic textile detail


The Betty: front view

Close-up: sampling of plastic textiles

Plastic fused textile; sewn-on plastic circles

Delicate frill: scraps of colored plastic fused between thin produce bags

Fused plastic textile

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Roller Skate Key Necklace

(fine print on key reads "hardware")

Here's a reminder to keep both your eyes and mind open the next time you are scrabbling through a junk box at your local flea market. This score was actually one of two roller skate keys, the only roller skate keys in the vicinity or in all of the universe as far as I knew, displayed on the palm of a fellow buyer's hand who wanted to show me his find. I was so effusive and my voice so full of longing that he very kindly gave me one of them. The cost, when I took it to the register, was just twenty-five cents.

Roller skate key necklace

It is now part of a very simple necklace and currently one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. Anyone my age who spots it around my neck remembers the old adjustable metal roller skates that fit around the soles of your shoes and that feeling of mechanical competence and no-nonsense, can-do attitude that possession of a roller skate key guaranteed. When they spot the key around my neck they exclaim, "Awwww..." in the tone of voice usually reserved for the first sighting of an adorable puppy. As for millenials and their ilk who have absolutely no idea what this object is: screw 'em, they can make necklaces out of nostalgic junk from their own pasts.

Don't you wish you had one?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

An Ex Voto Frame of Mind

Back from Oaxaca and noticing that lately when I return from Mexico I tend to be in an ex voto frame of mind, as evidenced by the following piece. As a lapsed Presbyterian I have no saints on call, but that doesn't stop me from making promises to divinities unknown for promises delivered.

Click to enlarge

    An ex-voto is a votive offering to a saint or to a divinity. It is given in fulfillment of a vow (hence the Latin term, short for ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made") or in gratitude or devotion. - Wikipedia

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Paranoid's Perfect Travel Vest: Upcycled Men's Shirt #26 or So



The latest take on upcycling men's shirts sourced from my favorite thrift store right around the corner.  (to see earlier upcycling go to Repurposed Men's Shirts). I travel a lot and when I do, I always don a trusty travel vest with lots of pockets, some of them hidden. This time I'm traveling to a hot and humid location so I've used two 100% cotton men's shirts, jigsawing them together to make an unlined, lightweight vest. If you want to try a similar upcycle project, start with a basic vest pattern ( I like loose and oversize) and play with your upcycled fabric, piecing it together so you have enough for your pattern sections. Then with any leftover material, go crazy with pockets.

Front exterior pocket

The pocket above uses a piece from the front of one of the upcycled shirts, re-using the shirt's pocket to create a double pocket for the vest.

Front exterior pocket

A second exterior pocket (originally a section of shirt sleeve), extends from the front of the vest past the side seam towards the back. A dividing seam separates this giant pocket into two more serviceable pockets. There is a final, absolutely mandatory external pocket, sized to fit eyeglasses.

Three external front pockets

There are also two hidden internal security pockets. 

Security pockets

The first, more traditionally placed, keeps passport, air tickets, some cash, and ATM card handy. Includes a velcro closure

Traditional security pocket

The second, completely hidden, is invisibly stitched inside the upper back of the vest. This is for credit cards and larger amounts of cash. This pocket also has a velcro closure. The closures are there so that when it's necessary to take the vest off for airport security, stuff in the security pockets doesn't come tumbling out.

Hidden security pocket
This is the fourth travel vest I've had. I also use them at home to avoid carrying a handbag, and with heavy use they tend to wear out quickly. To see how I cannibalized one travel vest make repairs on another, see Extreme Mending (Uber Boro).

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