Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Headphone Makeover

Wow, two posts in two days?!  You can tell I'm taking advantage of this Thanksgiving vacation.

A few weeks ago I used Victoria's Secret coupon that offered a free pair of DJ Headphones (A $40 value, guys!). 

Seriously they are so funny. The fact that they call them DJ Headphones just kills me.  Sadly, however, these are currently my best pair of headphones, so I guess the joke is on me.  And yes, when you wear them, especially around your neck, you look like a super model.

Needless to say, I have been a bit embarrassed to wear headphones that say "PINK" on the sides. Yes, I normally like to be a bit flashy, but this just doesn't seem right for the office... or anywhere outside a dorm room.

So supplies were gathered:

DJ Headphones
Wood-look contact paper
Matte acrylic medium
Can or bottle with a similar circumference to earpiece housing
Decorative resin dots

The whole process is pretty simple, as you can probably guess. I cut out two circles of contact paper using my fish's food container as a guide:

Then, because I felt the contact paper was too obnoxiously shiny, I added a coat of matte gel medium:

When the disks were dry, I stuck them on the headphones and smoothed the bubbles out. Finally I added some decorative resin dots to the slider housings, and voila:

Now I have a unique pair of headphones that are just my style to hold me over until I get some of the ones I have been lusting over. 

Headphones are a very loaded everyday object, and my interest in them will probably never end. Besides doing this simple makeover, I have been researching and working on some concept designs of my very own. I cannot wait to share the projects that come out of my efforts with you guys!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Graphic Knit Hat

Long time, no post.

But anyway, here is a hat I designed and knitted. It is a bit long, but that is what I needed for my huge mass of hair.

This was my first time doing stranded knitting, and I think it was a success. This was also my first time adding the crocheted edge to a project. And tassels!

My inspiration for the hat actually came from a dream. In the dream I was still working at Anthro, and the manager had told me that if I knitted a nice hat, there was a chance they would produce and sell it. What I came up with in the dream was nothing like this, but this hat was the result of that prompt, to knit something I could see Anthropologie selling.

I am very happy with the graphic pattern, but my next iteration will be a shorter hat, more marketable to the thinner haired folk.  I've already got one order!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Making totally rad hi-top sneakers even better with a hidden wedge heel

I love the hidden heel sneaker trend.  I have a small passion for sneakers.  I seem to tend more towards sporty looks in my clothing choices, but I don't want to look butch (just a personal preference, not a knock).  Enter the hi-top sneaker.  On the shelf (or virtual shelf) I love these things.  So sporty.  So throwback.  Love them.  But on my stubby legs, they don't do anything for me.  Enter the hidden wedge heel masquerading as a hi-top sneaker and I am sold.  These babies lengthen legs, but aren't fussy.  Not to mention they are much more comfortable than your basic pump, or even most wedge sandals.  For me, when wearing heels, it's not really the height that worries me.  I derive my comfort from knowing I won't fall out of them.

So I currently own these two babies:

I love that the pair on the left, some rip-off Isabel Marant's, are skater-inspired and perfectly conceal the heel.  The Padua Wedges from Jeffrey Campbell on the other hand are daintier, and the cutouts and stitching inform people that there is a heel there.

And I also own this pair of Solar Tart Hi-Tops from Pastry's:

I love these shoes, but they hit me at the wrong part of my leg and make me look even stubbier and thicker than I am.  I reasoned that their bulky shape could accommodate a heel, so I gathered these supplies:

All I had to buy was some Foamular insulation foam from Home Depot, I had everything else.  A 2' x 2' x 1" piece was on sale for $5.39.

First, I pulled an insole out and laid it on the foam top down, so the widest part was traced.  Next, I marked off two points, one just behind the ball of the foot and one just behind the forward foot pad on the outside of the foot as shown (luckily my insoles had special blue reinforcements for the footpad that I was able to use as a guide):

Then I traced the back of the foot and connected the dots:

And cut the piece out.  This is where things get messy.  I did a quick cut with a drywall knife knowing these didn't need to look great.  I cut out three more of these, and glued two pair so I had enough for a two inch heel.  This was all the shoe could comfortably accommodate.  I used yellow glue, but you might want to do hot glue or foam adhesive.  Yellow glues dries very slowly when used on this foam, but it did eventually get there.  I would say it took an hour (twice as long as the bottle says).  I labeled the two stacks left and right on the bottoms, then I used a wedge heel with about the right toe-to-heel elevation change to mark off a profile:

(The top of the wedge is facing left here)

To cut the profile, I used my Olfa utility knife (probably my most used tool), with a fresh blade for each wedge.  Foam really dulls blades.  I wonder if you can get a cleaner cut with a soldiering iron, I know that's one of the best ways to cut upholstery type foam, but I am not sure about this denser insulation grade stuff.

After the profile was done, I had to shave down the bottom to match the hell cup of the shoe.  I retraced the insole on the bottom of the wedge, this time with the opposite insole, sole to sole.  So, to mark off the right wedge, I turned it over and laid the left insole bottom side down on the bottom of the wedge, lining the lip of the sole up with the edge of the wedge.  Then I traced around the point of contact with my marker.  The rest of the carving was completed by examining the insole and inside of the shoe.

(See what I mean about the mess?)

I pressed the foam into the heels of the shoes (after loosening the laces) and slid the insoles in over top (and got sick of taking pictures).  Here is the before followed by the after:

(Before)                                                                    (After)

I now love where the shoes hit me, and I also like how the tongue stands up more in the heeled version.  Pretty cool that this cost less than $5 dollars and only took two hours time including glue up.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jewelry Box

I feel so good this week!  I am making a lot of progress on the old to-do list and there is so much sunshine!  Also I got to see my honey four (four!) weekends in a row plus a whole week between the last two.  This particular project was started a bit over a year ago (gasp!) as a birthday gift, but I shipped it out to its rightful owner on Monday.

First, some background. Somewhere along the way of thinking about using my skills to create things people would buy on my fictional Etsy (Still don't have one of those...), I thought about making a journal with teeth. What better way to tap into the vampire trend while telling people to 'Keep out!' was there?  Also I have all of these book binding supplies.  Anyway, I figured I could make a prototype for my sister who is always writing and goes for that gothic-creepy-maybe steampunk-style. It's not me, but I need to lean to cater to the masses.

Now, a book with teeth seemed somewhat impractical to write in. And then somehow, probably with some trips to Michaels (*scene missing*), this idea turned into one for a jewelry box:

Here is a sketch from early on. 

The first idea was just to have this old, leather bound, slightly evil looking box, that would reveal teeth when opened. I thought about adding some sort of webbing over the faux leather, and I knew it was going to have lots of studs and maybe some jewels.  On one of my initial trips to Michael's, I bought these feet:

Then I started devising a plan for another project that the feet would be better suited to, and my Michael's was out of them, so I got to thinking about taking this box further into the wild by making my own feet. A couple bricks of Sculpey later, and this is what I came up with:

They are loosely modeled after alligator feet.

I should mention that I had originally started the teeth with balsa wood, thinking that a few good coats of sandable primer would give them the necessary strength. However, after I had such success with the feet, I decided Sculpey teeth would be much more awesome.  The ability to model them so they aren't flat took this box to the next level, in my humble opinion.

The rest is pretty much history. Haha.  I covered the box with a vinyl table cloth remnant from JoAnn's, and sprayed the box and the feet with silver metallic paint. I put a fishnet stocking on each half of the box and masking taped them in place as needed. Next, I gave the box a couple coats of water-based polyurethane (water-based fries clear, not yellow like the regular stuff, but it is pricier) to hold the fishnets on (brilliant idea from my father!). 

The Sculpey teeth were a bit more work than I expected, because they expanded in the oven. I have read that Sculpey does not expand, but I did bake them on foil, so maybe the foil expanded and took them with it?  That's my hypothesis anyway.  The thermal expansion was probably a happy accident however, because it only caused me to make two new corner teeth (thank God I seperated the teeth before baking), and I was able to model these with the transition from the side to front in mind.

I lined the box with felt, and added a felt tongue. The tongue felt is embossed with an alligator texture, and I was very excited to find a piece that was reflected down the center like a real tongue. I sewed jump rings into the roof of the mouth lining for fish hook earrings.  I thought studs could go through the tongue, but I don't know what kind of holes they would leave. Bigger pieces of jewelry should stay neat under the tongue.

Finally I added some bling and a little "dog tag":

Just heard from my little sister!  She received the box in good condition, and loves it! Oh happy days. :-). Now I can publish this post. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mother's Day Suprise

I just wanted to do a quick post on the gift I put together for mother's day (which inadvertently made my siblings look bad...  not my fault).  Personalizing readily available, plain ceramics is in vogue, and many people (see Pinterest, if ever in doubt, see Pinterest) have attempted this with sharpies with mixed results.  I was trying to think of other ways of applying the ink.  Plenty of people have used stencils, a look I generally like, but I was thinking of this dish ware from Antrhopologie early on though, so my mind went to stamps.

Stamps would be able to convey the detail I desired, and I had fond memories of using markers with some rain forest stamps I had as a child.  Now I had more projects in mind, for which I planned to have custom stamps printed (I always hate the idea of using other people's art, and even when I do, I feel embarrassed), but Michael's had all of their stamps half-off, and I found some beauties, most with a nautical theme.  Ryan and I never did find the porcelain markers at my Michael's (I am under the impression that these are a lot more reliable than the sharpies, and I will get them for later exploration), but we ended up picking some Martha Stewart Crafts paint that would handle my ceramic project and his glass project.  It was dishwasher safe, but it did not say it was food safe, so we made sure not to make anything that would endanger food.

Next stop was TJ Maxx, to figure out what exactly to print for the Mominator.  They definitely had a wide array of plain ceramics to choose from.  I ended up choosing a rectangular dish, thinking it could be for necklaces and jewelry or soap and perfume.  I was a little lost at this point, but I needed hand soap and thought I'd see how much the designer stuff went for at TJ Maxx.  Then bamn!  I see all of this soap with nautical labels.  I had my pick.  So I decided to do kind of a gift basket.

I should mention, the trip to buy the paint was after this trip, and I ended up with a navy blue and a pink to coordinate with the soaps.  I also found a travel mug at Michael's, and I know my mom has a half hour commute to work and is trying to cut down on buying coffee at the drive-thru.  All that was left was to get this work printed!

I washed the ceramics, and rubbed them down with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove any human oils and lint.  I started with the travel mug.  I assumed that anything with a convex curvature, as long as it was not complex, would be stamp-able, as long as the stamp was steadily rolled over the curve.  This proved to be much more difficult than I had anticipated.  Also, the curve was a bit complex, as the mug had a rounded taper towards the base.  The best method I ended up using was to get the stamp loaded with paint, and lay it paint side up on the counter.  Then I placed the mug on one edge, and rolled it over the stamp.  The hard part was to not slip and smear the application.  Also, I tried to pick a height on the mug which would have the least complex curvature.  The difficulty here would decrease with stamp size, as you can guess.  Luckily for me, Martha Stewart Crafts paint can be easily wiped away with wet paper towel before it has cured—I definitely took advantage of that feature.  Once the mug was done, I was on to the dish.  And after Anchor Man and The Campaign, here's what I had:

Opposite side:


To cure Martha Stewart Crafts paint, as long as it does not have sparkles, you can oven bake at 350ยบ F for 30 min, allowing the work to heat up and cool down with the oven (translation:  a heck of a lot longer than 30 min, but far less than the 21 days to air cure). 

I baked in the convection mode, and it worked fine.  I set the timer for 30 min once the oven and work had finished pre-heating.  Maybe these are trivial details, but I was very nervous about them before hand.  I also assume you don't always know what you are getting with ceramic, and if it's glaze will take on what you add too it.  I will say that after curing, the paint had the quality of any decoration I have seen on dish ware.  I did not chance washing them, and I will ask my mom if she has yet, and update this post if anything bad happened, but my parents do not use a dishwasher, so it may not be very useful information if the paint stays intact.  This is how I wrapped them for presentation:

So, they turned out nice, and were relatively easy to do, curves aside.  The amount of paint to load the stamp with also took some getting used to.  Now, however, to avoid becoming some kind of un-original Pinterest trend follower, I want to print my own stamps (a service offered by Office Depot and online retailers) and decorate some truly unique dish ware that will be perfect for me (and super affordable), and more on the level of those plates from Anthro.

*I hope I do not offend anyone with my sometimes anti-pinterest sentiment, but I am trying to push myself to make original work, especially where this blog is concerned.  I like to post anything I do in the arts & crafts arena, but I think long and hard if it seems like it is something you can read about on a host of other blogs.  I want to inspire fresh thinking!  A great professor once told me, "Extraordinary art takes you somewhere you couldn't have gotten on your own," and I am trying everyday to hold my work to this standard.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Toner Transfer T-Shirt Take One

Who dosen't love t-shirts?  Just like all of my projects, this one has been in the works for sometime.  In fact, my boyfriend bought these t-shirts for me to decorate for him last summer.  I needed a Valentine's Day gift for him, plus a welcome home gift (he's been away on business), so I set to work.  The F22 is his favorite fighter jet (he's an aerospace enthusiast).

Here's the graphic I prepared in Illustrator.  I got it printed out at Kinko's, because it has to be a laser print.  Also, I don't own a printer and I find Kinko's very quick and helpful, unlike some desktop printers I have worked with in the past...  *day dreams about printer scene from Office Space*

I trimmed the image to fit around the sleeve seam, then I taped it to the shirt.  Next, I soaked a cotton ball in paint thinner, and repeatedly rubbed it all over the image.  I used the back of a spoon to apply pressure to the wetted image.  It's just like applying a temporary tattoo!

So this is how it came out.  It gives a pretty faded look, and I have to say that after a wash, it seems to have faded a bit more.  Obviously the grey areas did not come out too well on the grey shirt, but I was going for that kind of faded, faux vintage look.  I am excited to experiment with other colors, and I think I'm just going to buy a few yards of t-shirt material for my experiments.  Although, happy accidents could produce some fun to wear designs.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Making my Bed (Part 1)

Howdy y'all.

I am so bi-polar about posting.  I am gung-ho most of the time, but I tend to hold back if a project is not finished.  And let me tell you, I have not finished a project in a long while.  You would know if I had.

Well, I have come to decide that this is not a constructive attitude.  It stands to reason that I do not want to post in-progress images of things like paintings, but, for the last...  uh...  nine months (?) I have been building a bed.  It is a prototype of sorts, and I would love to share some photos.

Here is the base.  I have since added another board down the middle, to help support the slats and to add a foundation for the middle headboard support.

The current slats are from a box spring my house mate couldn't get up the stairs.  He had to chop it up to get rid of it, and we were able to salvage this part and get it up my challenging spiral staircase.

Here she is with my very flimsy Ikea mattress on top.  There is a thin layer of particle board over the slats for comfort, but I am thinking I need to double the slats.

And this is how it currently looks all made up.

So what's left?  My plan for this bed is to have attached night tables, so the to-do list is as follows:  a couple more slats, night tables, headboard, and the edges of the platform need to be faced with a nicer wood.  Then of course staining.  I originally wanted to stain the poplar I am using for the platform edges, but I love the look of the mineral stains and other natural variations in the lumber:

This piece is going to be at the foot of the bed.

Now I just need it to get a little warmer so I can get back to work.  I may be able to start the headboard without favorable weather though.

Well, that's that.  I am easing myself back into painting too.  More on that later!