December 20, 2010

This is the most amount of clothes I've worn in possibly ever.

Last night our furnace stopped taking in air to heat so the house was holding steady at 55 degrees, the temperature at which I stop denying the dog the benefit of sleeping under the covers with us, resulting in me being wedged between her and hubs in a tomb-like position all night except when I had to get up to pee at 5 am, which thoroughly woke me up because you can imagine how cold the toilet seat was. I'm still wearing no less than five layers of clothes, even though an HVAC guy came out like six hours ago and fixed the problem. I hate being cold.

On the plus side, I got some knitting done today and helped my star* student fix a couple of problems in her own projects. We had the fireplace going, the tree lit, and Ghostbusters 2 on TV. Turned out to be a pretty nice snowy day. Maybe after the holidays I won't be working full time and I'll be able to finish that sweater that's been in the works for months!


*my only student

December 2, 2010

Two things: rashes and crafts

Well, well, well. Fancy meeting you here. It's almost like somebody's been too busy to blog, or read blogs, or even check email... ah, work. So here's what's been going on.

Unfortunately, the first subject is reminiscent of a previous post where I speculated on the success of a health-related blog, which I realized then - as I realize now - would be gross and inappropriate and unnecessary. Well, whatever. Let's revisit two weeks ago, when I thought I might implode from wanting to rub my back on a tree trunk bear-style. I was in the middle of a skin patch test that was thankfully as worthwhile as it was torturous. Here are my unexpected results:


The main culprit has been formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. These are in everything from shampoo to lotion to makeup to clothes. Clothes. Also some topical antibiotic ingredients are to blame, and even though no one really seems to be sure of the meaning of "irony," I'm pretty sure it has something to do with unwittingly putting antibiotic cream that you're allergic to on a cut, allowing it to penetrate right into your system.


So wrinkle-free, wash-and-wear, and blended-fiber clothes may be a problem. Basically, I might have to buy an entire wardrobe of hand-wash wool and cotton. Or become a nudist. Before taking either of those leaps, however, I'm trying to switch all of my products to see if this clears up. I brought in a suitcase to my testing full of all the products in our house and came home with approval to continue using about 15% of them. Above, you can see the binder of info the doctor gave me, most of which is comprised of an itemized list of products that are safe for me to use. It's kind of a pain. in. the. ass. to bring a binder to Target or Walgreens, where I may or may not find something because many of the products are a bit obscure (hey, if you can't get it at Target...) and I don't necessarily have a ton of choices (for example, below you can see that of 150 reported conditioners, I can only use 17). Don't tell my optometrist, but I have yet to find an eye makeup remover. Honestly though, I can't complain. All kinds of horrible theories have been spinning a web of anxiety, so finding a relatively benign cause and being able to do something after a year of discomfort is so welcome.


Aaaaand, onto more fun crafty things. While I was pacing the main floor of my house concentrating on not itching, I was neglecting to prepare for the second HandmadeMN Market. Sure enough, I left all my business cards at home along with my receipt book and some of my more popular products. Still, it was a fun and profitable show thanks to the HandmadeMN leaders (Toni, Lindsay, Kelly, Jenny...) and their crack teams of helpers. The time of year didn't hurt either. Hoards of our customers were out holiday shopping. Everything I bought was for myself :) except for the ladybug hair clip.

November 25, 2010

I am thankful for dirt.

Things about Minnesota that I am thankful for and maybe someday will inspire a craft:


My family.

Freshly fallen snow that coats every little tiny twig on every tree-lined street, but only until it becomes a world of slush made gray by car exhaust.

Lakes. So many lakes.

Fireplaces that actually get used.

Summer sunsets at 9 pm.

Hotdish
. Where would we be without tuna noodle casserole?

The MINNESOTA TWINS.

The North Shore. It's the Hamptons of MN.

Target. You're welcome.

Green bean casserole, preferably made with nothing but canned ingredients.

Dirt; specifically the warm kind that smells good because it is a reminder that it's summer.


I don't know how any of these could translate into a craft, but perhaps it'll be an interesting quest to embark upon, like the Native Americans discovering Grand Portage.*


*It wouldn't actually be anything like that, but I needed a MN-related simile.

November 17, 2010

Practical Layers with Impractical Shoes



It snowed the other day and I've still been able to resist getting out my long underwear. Must. Build. Tolerance.

I should be spending this afternoon off by preparing for the HandmadeMN Market this Saturday, but I'm not. I'm catching up on my stories and eating pizza rolls in an effort to distract myself from the insane, horrible, profound, soul-wrenching itchiness on my back. Eleven months of all-over skin irritation finally drove me to a patch testing clinic. A hundred and twenty-some patches were placed on Monday, followed by two excruciating days of wanting to set piranhas on myself. The patches came off today for an initial "reading," and the good news is that we might be figuring out the problem. The bad news is that I might be allergic to my clothes. So, since I'm not allowed to actually scratch the damn itch, I'm treating myself to a day in front of the television while attempting to numb 3/4 of my back with ice. This is the life(?).

November 8, 2010

Let's return to some normalcy, shall we?

Another HandmadeMN Market is coming up on November 20th! I am super behind on making new stuff, but I have done some holiday gift tags, and here is a preview:



November 3, 2010

I am so sorry about this post.

You know, I was just thinking to myself, "self, what if instead of writing a blog about the mundane goings-on of a crafter, you wrote about the mundane status of your health and various medications? On one hand, the topics are equally uninteresting to a world of people who are busy with their own crafts and have their own bodies and minds to worry about. On the other, they're both just about the nitty-gritty of life, to which everyone can relate. Plus people are super voyeuristic and will read just about anything."

And then I was all, "you know, that's all true, but the real benefit of a state-of-being blog such as we're discussing is that it will finally give the elderly motivation to join the internets!"*

And then I wondered how a post might go, and imagined this:

Dear Electronic Universe,
Well, the diverticulitis is flaring up again. At least I think that's what the pain in my side and the random diarrhea is. I don't know why in God's name I ate that popcorn last night. The chlordiazepoxide does nothing, so I'm going to take Martha's advice and ask the doctor for ciprofloxacin, which you have to take three times a day** unfortunately. That'll make 13 pills every 24 hours! Doc has to adjust my thyroid medication, too. And then add to that the antibiotic ointment he'll most likely prescribe for my eczema. Guess I'll be sleeping with socks on my hands again!


See, I made most of that up*** and it was still really cathartic. And I bet there's a heap of folks who would commiserate on any one of the many implicated ailments. If I were elderly I might not have included links, because I probably couldn't figure out how to do it,**** and let's hope I couldn't figure out how to upload pictures because there is a time and place for visuals and this would not be it, but old people often lose their sense of inhibition and do some pretty crazy - and sometimes nasty - stuff.*****


* It's not habitual for me to have discussions with myself like this.
** No idea what the dosage is, and I don't care.
*** Actually, this just a small sample of some of the medical problems plaguing my family members.
**** I feel really bad about saying that. It's just that my grandma, whom I love dearly, has a lift chair with three buttons that she cannot master. It frustrates her and everyone else, but it is what it is. Not 30 myself, I can tell my brain function is not what it used to be - *possibly* due to computer use, but that would be entirely counterproductive to point out here.
***** I feel bad about saying this, too. But that same grandmother, and her mother before her (both well past the age of 80 at their respective outbursts), has declared, "ah, bit by the trouser worm!" after learning of some relatives' pregnancy or other.

Kids craft the darnedest things

Well, even though there has been little to no crafting going on in my house of late (*sob*), the kids have been creating all kinds of treasures and graciously gifting them to me.

For instance, this bookmark Laura made by using some fancy scissors on a bit of scrapbooking paper. It is sparkly and I love it.


And this painting Sammy did depicting a race track with race cars all around. One of the red ones (or possibly all of the red ones) is Lightening McQueen.


If you're familiar with Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages - which I put some amount of stock in - you'll understand when I say that I'm "gifts." Perhaps perceived as the shallow, materialistic love language, "gifts" people like myself are not really looking for things so much as the thought and effort behind those things. So when a six-year-old gives you something she would not use or necessarily care about but knows you'll use because she's drawing on something she knows about you (in this case, that I like to read), it's kind of perfect.

Which isn't to say that I can't appreciate gifts of sweet electronics and the like.

October 29, 2010

Hawaii Part 2: Wherein we battle sand, bugs, ski slopes, and the Phoenix airport.

This is the view from our hosts' abode. I mean, I guess it's ok. From my own home you can see a bar, a mill that emits a putrid dog-food smell as it is currently being torn down, and the orange abomination that is our neighbor's house. There is also a lovely view into our back yard where we have a classy chicken-wire fence around our mostly bare/dead garden.


Naturally, with the splendors of tropical heaven all around us, we spent some time indoors playing with the Pattersons' new Wii Fit. I can happily report that my Wii Fit age is 31, only two years older than I actually am. I can also report that anything having to do with coordination is bound to be a fiasco, while I am awesome at anything having to do with luck or with standing mostly still. So...nothing has changed since grade-school. For example, trying to head-butt soccer balls was IMPOSSIBLE, but I ruled the ski jump:

video

None of the following people are any of us. The only surfer in the group had a broken leg. I'd like to say that I would try surfing, but I'm not that good of a swimmer, plus I had enough trouble just staying upright in the breaking waves on shore. Followed by a whole lot of trouble with sand in places sand should not be.


The sand in Minnesota is totally different - tiny little balls that roll right off the skin. In Hawaii the sand is made of bits of shell that suction themselves to you. Everywhere. So that's one drawback to paradise. The other is that there are cockroaches and poisonous centipedes. But Raid smells surprisingly good.

And this is a mountain by some name that rests in an area I don't know that was once described by a very famous author whose name I forget as "the best view in the world." I don't go on vacation to learn.


PS - Did you know that the Delta gates at the Phoenix airport are not in the main terminal? We didn't either, until we had toured the whole thing in our hour-long layover before being told to exit the airport, take a bus to another area, and re-enter through security. We were those people running through the airport with unwieldy rolling luggage, swearing and sweating profusely because we layered for the frigid airplanes but it was 90 degrees in Arizona. I was the last person to board after running to the gate in my socks. I WIN, PHX!

October 27, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday FINALE: My Favorite Things

Here I am at the end of my blog adventure that began almost five months ago. It took less time than I thought it would, but it did inspire me to really appreciate the talent that resides within a radius of just hours from my own home. I have to apologize to the shops who were not featured; it was not purposeful. Every shop was included unless it was on vacation or would not load at the time of my creating the treasury. If I were more organized, I would have kept track so I could go back and feature those who I missed. Maybe I'll get it together someday, but in any case I hope to continue to find time to peruse Etsy between work and family and selling the house and random medical mysteries and whatnot.

This last treasury is just some of my very favorites from the past five months.


MY FAVORITE THINGS
featuring

A Handmade Princess
Round Bottom Baby
Veske by Lindsay
Crafterall
Christine by Hand
Rose and Vinnie
My Friend London
Western Art Glass
Oh Hi Shop
One 9 Designs
Cholula Jewelry
XO Handworks
Just Another Day Designs
Mary Foster Creative
Owl Shop
Vintage Recreations


October 20, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 16: Just a Little Something

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
JUST A LITTLE SOMETHING
featuring

Cayenne Peppy
Artistic Edition
A Handmade Princess
Creative Fabrications
Gingham Life
Glorious Hats
Julie Meyer
Kelly Hanson Handmade
looks SEW nice
Mary Littfin
Palette Passion
Pins with Fury
Seedling Design
Skylark Dawn
The Cozy Corset Cuff
Wynzia


October 13, 2010

Hawaii Part 1: Wherein we spend our second honeymoon with four friends.

Ignoring the hacked up photoshopping job I did to edit out some people and make this beach appear more exclusive than it actually was, you can totally see how awesome it is in Hawaii. It's just that beer bellies don't really sell a place. It was my favorite beach out of the many that we visited on the north shore of Oahu, where there are inexplicably NO hotels other than the Turtle Bay resort. But that didn't so much matter because we were able to stay with the newly-wed Pattersons. Some couples go on vacation to reconnect; we use romantic beach scenes as rendezvous points to meet with worldly friends and invade the homes of folks married less than two months.


Waimea beach is about ten minutes from our hosts' abode. Fifteen minutes away is the renowned Turtle Bay, where you can get ridiculously expensive facials and actually see hoards of sea turtles. The feral cat hanging around the spa was slightly off-puting, but the *free* shower caps made up for it. In between Turtle Bay and "home" is Sunset beach, where the great Pacific Ocean claimed the rental car keys. At least I got an opportunity to snap this horrible pic of a TINY egret while we waited for a ride. These things were everywhere and only about 10" tall. Super cute.


And here we are, sans Hubs who is taking the pictures. Gimpy McGimperson, The Bride, me, Baby Mama, and Morning Fox.


In celebration of Gimpy's 30th birthday we spent a night in Waikiki and stayed in the very same hotel where Hubs and I had our honeymoon five years ago. We also spent the week eating massive quantities of food, especially meat. Also, vacationing with friends is very, very dangerous for the pocketbook. All for the birthday. Yes, the birthday.




In the next installment: we battle sand, bugs, ski slopes, and the Phoenix airport.

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 15: Art...Is

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
ART...IS
featuring

Choosing Beauty
Cindy Lindgren
Foxglove Photographics
Linden Leaf Designs
Locality
MT Art for Empty Walls
Olivia Moore Art
Red Shoes Design
Sarah Thole
Starglow Studio
Meredith Dillman


October 11, 2010

Oh. My. God.

So we got back from a vacation in HAWAII last night, and I've not gotten myself together for a post about it, but I will say this:

Our dog has been rolling in poop.

Dad: Penny's been good, but she kind of smells.
Me: Well, that's normal.
Dad: Ehhhhh.....
Me: Oh, it's gotten worse?
Dad: I took a wet towel to her, but she still smells.


Sure enough, it was time for the most thorough bath of her life. Welcome home!

October 6, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 14: Wish I Were a Kid Again

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
WISH I WERE A KID AGAIN
featuring

Embe

Lolly Bop Baby
Miss B Accessories
Not A Potato
Round Bottom Baby
Sweet Gracies
The Hobby Room


October 1, 2010

Max

I'm just racking up the nephews here, and I'm behind on the sharing. Newest one is Maxwell Douglas, brother to the infamous Laura and Sam, born of my sister's womb on September 16, 2010.


His second cousin, Emily, was born two days earlier over in Wisconsin. I wonder if her cord has fallen off yet. Max's fell off the other day and no one knows where it went. I think the dog ate it.


Max still sleeps a lot but he's hands-down the best eater I've ever known. He literally was born ready. I know because I was there. It was not as messy as I was expecting, and it was just the amount of disturbing I was expecting. Also miraculous and emotional.


Laura totally loves him and wants to hold him and is very concerned with his well-being. She makes his bed. Sammy is unsure, as any four-year-old would be, but is mostly amenable to the baby.


And all I want to do is squeeze and poke his little baby tummy and cheeks. That is all.

September 29, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 13: How Many Tuppence Can I Fit in this Bag?

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
How Many Tuppence Can I Fit in this Bag?
featuring

All Things Jane

And More Bags
Crazy Busy
Shaggy Baggy
Trigo
Veske by Lindsay


September 26, 2010

A little gnome told me...

to make a gnome hat. And then put a beard on it. So I did, and I'm hoping it will fit an infant and that said infant will tolerate it just long enough for a photo op.


Here it is next to a mug for scale:



Adult-sized version coming soon, possibly even with a pattern attached!

September 22, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 12: Senses and Sentiments

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
SENSES AND SENTIMENTS
featuring

Herbal Apothecary
Mirasol Farm
Sacred Suds
Twilight Soaps and Gifts
Warm Hugs
Appleberry Ink
Crafterall
Created by Kristen M
The Foxy Squirrel


September 16, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 11: Mishmash of Goodness

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
MISHMASH OF GOODNESS
featuring

The Mermaid's Dowry
Sue Pariseau Pottery
Bath N Beads
Christine By Hand
Prayer Bedes
Regan's Brain
Rita's Creations
Tina B Designs

September 12, 2010

Oh, 1960s, you crack me up.

Just sharing another gem that came from my grandma's house.

September 9, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 10: Sew Nice

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
SEW NICE
featuring

Baroness Color
Frankensweaters
Come Along Fawn
Danger Kitty Designs
Hartford Avenue Quilts
Pixie Spit
Riyah-Li Designs
Rose & Vinnie
Yo Thread Works
Zippity Duda

September 8, 2010

All "cabins" should have showers, dishwashers, and four bedrooms.

There's nothing wrong with camping, but I prefer to visit the north woods in comparative luxury. Hubs and I recently traveled to the Ely area, birthplace of Jessica Biel and home-base of Jim Brandenburg, to spend a long weekend at a friend's cabin.

Like "our" cabin, it does indeed have showers, a dishwasher, and four bedrooms. Also like our cabin, activities are dictated largely by the children in attendance. Thus, there was chasing:


a fair amount of crushing:


plus a lot of story time, bike riding, and *trying* to take naps.

The cabin was fantastic and our lovely hostess bestowed upon us her glorious cooking skills via homemade cheese, bread, flapjacks, chocolate zucchini cake... it was glorious. We also found opportunities to do all the real cabin-y stuff a person should:


hiking, knitting, cribbage-playing...


canoeing, fishing, s'more-making...


and doing an impression of one of my favorite Harry Potter movie moments.

August 31, 2010

One day Google is going to rule the world. Mark my words.

So I was bored about five minutes ago while my pictures were uploading to the Target website and I decided to experiment with Google searching.

The first result for "crazy crafts" is this dude's blog from India and he's obsessed with origami.


On one hand, I can only imagine some high school delinquent using his wide-ruled paper for everything but notes. On the other hand, it is pretty cool.

Now if you search for "crazy art," the first result is a very obscure section of Houston's Chinatown Connection website titled "Crazy, Mind-boggling Art." I can't even find it via the homepage.


A. of all, I didn't know Houston had a Chinatown.
B. of all, somehow none of the artwork really fits. I mean, isn't that a white-tailed deer? We totally have those in Minnesota, and I'm pretty sure they do not populate China.
C. of three, some of the paintings aren't really all that crazy. Take Bucky* here. An animal form hidden in otherwise incidental scenery is not unheard of. Also not unheard of: melting clocks, dementors who've blown a tire, and gobble-ti-gook that takes the form of a sailboat if you stare at it long enough. Ahh, art.

Finally, a search for "food crafts" yields a top result from Incredible Edible Crafts, which is fantastic.


Gumball flower bouquet. Awesome. This former teacher devotes her site to providing instructions on creating candy/cookie/fruit/veggie bouquets. There's candy making and edible kids' crafts, too. A ton of it seems to be free. I burned myself just this noon making a regular old veggie burger, so I'm not about to start working with stringy, sticky, scalding sugar - but who knows. There was a time when I would've said I'd never make a cake with mohawked babies riding carrots on top.

And now I'm not bored, but I could really go for some candy.


*I realize this is a portrait of a doe, but I don't remember Bambi's mother's name, and after all, a painting of Bambi's mother would probably have a very different, very grusome look. And Doey sounds like I'm speaking of cookies or cake or donuts. I really need some candy.

August 27, 2010

Best. Tool. Ever.

Back when I was a framer I got to use all kinds of *sweet* tools, and this was one of them:


Only the ones in the frame shop weren't pink. We used them for mounting artwork and sealing the dust covers to the back of the frames. When I'm framing things at home, I really, really miss those kinds of tools that make the job so much easier. Honestly, I just haven't bothered to put dust covers on my frames at home because I'm not big on diluting glue to paint on the back of the frame OR on wasting expensive scrapbooking tape, never knowing if it would hold anyways.

But now I have a glorious ATG gun, and it came with two giant rolls of acid-free tape, which I've already tried out making cards and it works just swimmingly. I don't know if these are still available(!), but I got it at Michaels and it was an awesome deal... other ATG guns I've found have been between $60 and $70. This was listed for $35, so with my 40% off coupon I got it for $20, and some portion of the profit was given to cancer research (hence the pink).

If I could buy a paper trimmer and a pneumatic staple gun (and maybe a several-thousand-dollar mat cutter) I'd set up shop.

August 25, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 9:

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
MMMM...COZY
featuring

Fantastic Toys
Fennel Studio
My Friend London
Sewtropolis
Vantastic Designs


August 23, 2010

DIY Framing Tutorial

Eventually, I hope to post it to the HandmadeMN blog, but in the mean time...


This tutorial brought to you by Theresa B of Egret Effects.


Nothing makes your house feel more like a home than seeing your favorite photos and artwork on your walls. I'll admit there was a time I used that sticky blue gum to hang things (namely, magazine cutouts circa my high school days), but a couple years as a custom framer has taught me that preserving and displaying your art can be, well, an art.

The thought of custom framing summons visions of dollar signs for many of us, and there's a good reason for that. Anything *custom* has a price tag that reflects the fact that it can't be used for anything but the one special thing for which it was made. A custom frame is well-built, the materials are suited for preserving whatever's going in it, and there's a surprising amount of ingenuity a framer must possess to design and fit together a finished piece.

That said, you're not going to have everything in your home custom framed unless you are, perhaps, Oprah Winfrey. Using my prized inaugural season home-opener Twins ticket, here are some pointers for framing at home.

The Frame
Buy a frame that's roughly proportional to your art. My ticket is about the size of a dollar bill. This frame is nicely wrapped so I'm pretty sure it's in good shape, and I can tell that the "writing" on the glass is just a decal.


When I get home, I open the frame and inspect it. Any work on the frame should be done while it's totally disassembled to prevent potential damage to the artwork. Attach the hanging hardware if necessary. Nicks in the frame can often be touched up with a marker - but test the color on the back of the frame first! Marks on the mat can often just be erased.

The Mounting
This is usually where some finagling has to take place. My *simple* project has three little problems: the backing is destroyed from pulling the mat off of it, the mat opening is not the right size, and the ticket is not flat.


Problem one is an easy fix. I cut a piece of black scrapbooking paper to the size of the frame for a new, preservation-friendly backing.

Problem two is more complicated. Skipping the mat altogether would be simple, but then a new problem would arise - the ticket would press against the glass. Any amount of moisture in there will wick right to the ticket and ruin it. So I can either have a mat custom cut (which might be $10-$20 for something small like this), or I can cut it myself.


Never try to cut a mat unless you have a mat cutter. Using a utility knife or an Exacto will not be pretty. Mat cutters are at least $50, but if you plan on doing this more than two or three times it's a good investment. They all work a little differently, so follow the directions closely and do some practice mats. Mat blanks (pieces that have no opening) can be purchased at most craft stores for a few dollars. In this case, I'm just going to cut the existing mat. And here is the most important fact about framing: You know how they say to measure twice and cut once? Well, they do. And they mean it. In the words of Professor Farnsworth, "I'm afraid we'll need to use...math!"


I want 3/8 of an inch of the black backing to show on each side of the ticket, so I add that to the ticket length and width to figure the mat opening, and then subtract those numbers from the size of the frame to determine the mat width. If I didn't want any of the backing to show, I would have to get a new mat blank and make the opening small enough to cover 1/8 inch of the art on each side to account for uneven edges or unsquare mat cuts.

Problem three can be solved simply by cutting strips of scrap matting 1/4 inch narrower than the mat and sticking them to the underside, lined up with the outside edge. This is called a raised mat, and it will prevent wavy or otherwise irregular artwork from touching the glass.


Now I can stick the raised mat to the backing, hold the ticket in position, and mount it to the backing with photo corners. Photo corners are essentially little pockets with sticky undersides. The ticket's four corners fit into the pockets, and the adhesive needs only to stick to the backing. The less adhesive on your artwork, the better the preservation. If the mat were overlapping the ticket, I would "hang" the ticket on two pieces of acid-free tape - one at each of the top corners.


Preservation-wise, the only thing missing from my project is UV-protective glass. You can have glass cut to the appropriate size with the cost depending on the grade of protection.

The Specs
As a framer, I've seen designs like this sell for anywhere between $50 and $300. That is money well-spent for a piece of art you want to take care of in the best possible ways. I sacrificed the wide selection of frame styles and mat colors, a few preservation techniques, and a little of my time - but I dropped less than $5 on this project. And then there's the price of the ticket...

August 19, 2010

Craft Supplies Sale!!

Craft sales are the best thing since clothing swaps, and I. Am. Pumped. Sarah, one of the HandmadeMN members, is allowing other crafters (hoarders) to price their own stuff and bring it by so she can pawn it off on other obsessive DIY freaks.*


Yarn, fabric, frames, scrapbooking embellishments, paint supplies, beads, etc, etc, and even some free items. FREE! Hopefully I won't spend whatever money I make on new stuff. But that wouldn't be so bad.

Stop by the 13XX block of Murray Street in St. Paul if you're interested in participating in some awesomeness. Saturday, August 21, 8-2.


* I'm sure there won't be any freaks there. Only very normal, responsible, upstanding citizens who vote and have busy hands. In fact, if idle hands the devil's workshop, it's pretty much guaranteed that this sale will be full of heavenly angels.

August 18, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 8: Glass Candy

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
GLASS CANDY
featuring
Everyday Elegant
From Out of the Cracks
Wild Dog Studio
Pickleberries
Glass Garden Designs
Gotthold Glass Studio
Orange Moon Gallery
Western Art Glass


August 9, 2010

Wanted: Repurposing ideas

First of all, I almost just typed "reporposing" in the title of this post, and now I'm wondering how you could reporpose something. Like it originally resembled a porpoise (correct spelling) but then something happened and it was disfigured so you reporposed it.


Also, I'm no etymologist, but apparently porpoises are also known as mereswine, which is like some strange hybrid of the French word for SEA (mer) and the English word for SWINE (swine) that essentially names these majestic creatures "pigs of the sea." Not very flattering.

Aquatic mammals aside, I recently purchased a box of cards from my place of employment, which I enjoy but blame for my severely reduced presence on the internets of late. Having used all the cards, I now have this cute box that I don't want to throw away. So my challenge to you, my little cabbages,* is to come up with a use or project idea.



*My junior-high French teacher insisted that this is a common expression of endearment, but as I remember it, she also used it interchangeably with "my little donkeys," and she also had a routine of what I can only assume was a full ten minutes of daily hairspraying. Not the kind of earth-friendly hairspraying we do these days (is that even a thing?), but the early 1990s kind of toxic, mind-numbing hairspraying.

August 8, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 7: MN for the Home

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!


Ammendment 1 (8.8.10): When I say "Wednesday" I really mean any day of the week.



This week:
MN FOR THE HOME
featuring

Auntie B
Custom Paper Creations
Kitschy Knits and Embroidery
My Little Chickadee Creations
Oh Hi Shop
Riverbird
Scrap Savvi
The Snuggery

August 2, 2010

Objectivity is lost on aunties.

Mothers, fathers, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, and uncles....we think the children in our lives are simply superior to all other beings. The things they say are the funniest, the faces the cutest, the hugs the warmest, and the smiles the brightest. Since today is my birthday I suppose I can indulge myself in imagining that I was once that kid. And then fourth grade happened.*

But I'm sure my niece and nephews will never have the awkward phase, just as I'm sure they truly are the most wonderful beings to exist. Note the "nephewS;" Joseph Finnegan Keelin was born on July 24.


Proof of my multi-tasking abilities: holding Finn while taking our picture left-handed.


He has sideburns. Finn is a cuddly and reasonable baby, except when it comes to being naked, which is pretty much the worse thing ever. Just a few thoughts among the vast expanse of consciousness that LIFE presents.


*Glasses + braces + randomly expanding facial features + ever-lengthening limbs = me = so.painfully.awkward.

July 30, 2010

I love scarves, but...

they do have a tendency to dangle in unwanted places. The dog's face, the kitchen sink, my cereal bowl; that kind of thing. But now....BEHOLD!


Cowls. I don't know what their fates will be. Clearly I shouldn't have tried to sell them at an outdoor sale on a 90 degree summer day. But the internets have no weather patterns outside of the occasional blip in speed. Remember when all there was was dial-up and you had to wait like 20 seconds for every page to load? Now, if it's not instant, I have a very precise reaction: swear while pounding my fist on the desk, then roll my eyes while still managing to use my peripheral vision to keep tabs on the screen in case it changes, then full-on look at the screen for a moment before swearing and pounding my fist on the desk.


The point is, the cowls will probably end up in the shop someday.

July 28, 2010

Made in MN Blogventure Wednesday 6: Double-treasury jewelry extravaganza!

The premise:
This blogventure celebrates my favorite colors, blue and green, while paying homage to the awesomeness of the HandmadeMN members via Etsy treasuries. Each one features items from a particular crafting category as listed on the HandmadeMN blog. If you like the items, leave a comment on the treasury - comments will bump the treasury toward the top of the list so other folks are more likely to view it and give some love to these fabulous artists!

Some categories have just a few shops and others have so many that they'll cover more than one week; I want everybody to get fair attention, so you might see some random treasuries here and there. It'll take at least six months to get through all the HandmadeMN shops, so saddle up!



This week: Double-treasury jewelry extravaganza!

DANGLIES AND SPARKLIES
featuring
KellyBot

Kelly Lynn Designs
Komfy Kozy
LilyKat Studio
Little Red Designs
MNC Moon
Modern Meets Whimsy
Nikki Lee Designs
One 9 Designs
Rivertown Glass
SB Design
Silver Butterfly Jewelry
Suz and Roo
Tiny Hands
Vintage Recreations
Water Nymph




AND

DANGLIES AND SPARKLIES, 2ND EDITION
featuring
Amanda Gwen Designs
Cameo Design
Cholula Jewelry
Clay by Clay
Connected Elements Designs
Craftease
Designs by Dottie
Dmalia
Everyday Elegant
From Out of the Cracks
Gemnorde
Heirloom Jewelry Studios
JanRa Jewelry Designs
Jennifer Merchant Design
Jenny Bunny Creations

July 19, 2010

Woodbury Lakes Art Faire is a scorcher!*

Temperature-wise, not sales-wise. Although I did make enough to buy myself the dress from the neighbor booth that I'd been eyeing for two days.


Yes, it was so hot and humid the first day that we had to shut down early as it gave way to rain and, um, tornadoes. The second day was more pleasant. Traffic was good but people weren't buying anything! At least I hear pretty much the same story from most of the other vendors, so I have some reason to hope that it's not just that my products are totally undesirable. Even better, there were many positive comments from the browsers, which will help me understand what products I should be focusing on. Even though focusing is for chumps.


The other nice thing about this "faire" was that I was able to cut my booth fee by sharing a space, and that also meant I was covered for bathroom/leg-stretching/Chipotle outings. My cohort, Monique, was awesome. She witnessed the schizophrenia that is my little business, and I learned all about the skunk problem in her neighborhood. We also traded goods, which is always fun. It's like shopping without spending money because by the time the goods switch hands you've forgotten all about the purchasing of supplies and the time it took you to make the thing.

All in all, a good first outdoor show experience.


*RIP Steve Erwin.