Tag Archives: home

Firefighter (Oil Painting)

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Title: Firefighter
Year: 2000
Medium: Oil Paint on Canvas

This painting was inspired by my father who is fire chief in his town. I saw an image when flipping through one of his firefighting magazines and based it on that. I chose the size of my piece and started from scratch. I built the frame with stretcher strips, stretched the canvas (cotton duck), primed the canvas with gesso, then went to town with my oil paints.

There is something I really love about this image, the colors and the textures. What thoughts and emotions does it bring up for you?

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How-To: Mason Jar Coin Bank

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I have several coin collectors tucked around my bookshelves, closets, dressers, etc. They take many forms including jars, tins, ceramic pots, jugs and various other vessels. Most of them are completely no-frills. About twice a year as they fill up I go through and empty them into my bank account where the funds hopefully purchase something fun like concert tickets, yarn or fabric splurges, a day trip out of town, etc. Other times the money goes towards something completely boring but necessary like bills. I have had a lot of loose change coming my way lately so I decided to take an empty mason jar I had sitting with my craft supplies and turn it into another little coin bank.

I decided on a nautical theme including a piece of my Anchors Away fabric from Dear Stella (one of my favorite fabric manufacturers at the moment). I have always loved anchors; I remember doodling them on my notebooks when I was little. Do you remember when we used to have those denim binders and drew all over them? They were “the” thing after Trapper Keepers went out of style. But back to the project…

Supplies you will need:
– Mason jar and rim, lid not needed
– Two scraps of fabric approximately 7″ x 7″
– Cardstock
– Double-sided tape or a glue stick is helpful!
– Scissors
– Ruler
– Pencil/Pen
– Any embellishments you would like (ribbon, cord, lace, etc). I chose cording to go with my nautical theme.

Step One: Trace the rim onto your card stock and cut it out – make sure it fits inside the rim before proceeding further. I cut two pieces and fastened them together with a little glue around the edge (no glue in the middle because we’ll be cutting the center). The double layer will make your top more durable. I used some scraps of card stock leftover from another sewing pattern that I made. I keep scraps in the back of my file for projects like this.

Step Two: With your ruler measure to find the center of the circle. I drew a line across the diameter and another line perpendicular. Then, using the center point and your diameter line as a guide draw a line 1.5″ across the center of the circle. I measured an old-school silver dollar at 1.25″. That was the largest coin in my nearest canister and I wanted to make sure there would be enough room to accommodate it. You can use a craft blade (or scissors if you feel confident) to cut a narrow opening in the center of your card stock – 1.5″ long as per your guide and just wide enough for a couple of coins to fit through at once.

Step Three: Cut your fabric squares to desired size (I think mine were around 7″ x 7″). You can put them on top of the jar with the rim to measure and see if the fabric is the size you want it to be. Fold your fabric in half with wrong side out, then fold it in half again to make a square. You will see your center point at one of the corners you just made. Make a tiny snip to mark your center. Unfold fabric so it is just folded in half. Now that your center point is identified and your center line is marked by the fold, it is easy to cut out your hole while fabric is folded. Hole should be just shy of the size of your card stock’s opening. My card stock’s opening was about 2mm larger than my fabric’s.

Step Four (optional): This step was very theme-specific. I took my navy cord and created a coil for the bottom of the jar. This would help to soften the sound as coins were deposited, and also protect the glass. I decided to sew rather than glue the coil. It takes more time, but it’s cleaner and more durable. Once finished, my coil was added to the bottom of the jar.

Step Five: Layer your card stock between your top and bottom fabrics, aligning the coin slot. I put a tiny bit of glue stick on each side of the card stock during this process. This wasn’t to permanently glue the pieces of fabric and paper together, just to help keep them secure during the top assembly. Once your lid layers are sandwiched, stick them in your rim (this ensures that the layers aligned as the pieces of card stock will guide your sandwich to the center). Place the entire piece on top of the jar, screw on the lid.

Step Six (optional): I tied around the lid a cord with a cute little knot. I took a match to seal the ends of my cord to prevent fraying and add some nice texture. Depending on your fabrics, you could use ribbon, a lacy bow, some twine, glue on buttons and gems or even leave the rim unadorned.

That’s it! Now you are ready to fill your stylish new bank. What are you going to splurge on once you’ve saved up some dough?

Linking up to:

WIP: Seed Stitch Blanket

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Hello. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. It’s that time of year when everybody’s allergies are on overdrive, which for me and my “complex and narrow” sinus passageways (doctor’s words, not mine) means back-to-back sinus and ear infections. Kind of knocks a person out. Anyway, I figured I would at least give you a peek at one of my works-in-progress.

I am knitting this throw blanket in a classic seed stitch pattern. Since I’m using a worsted weight 100% cotton yarn but using chunky size 11 needles, I wanted to use a simple pattern that would highlight the texture of the yarn. This will be a warm, yet lightweight throw when it is complete.

I’ve never seen the sunset over the desert in person (only in photographs), but that is what I had in mind when I chose these yarns for the bottom band. I still have quite a ways to go with this blanket and have a few ideas in mind for how the rest of it will be finished. Stay tuned…

Custom Built Shelving Unit

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I finally completed a project that I’ve been wanting for myself for about four years! I have a lot of yarn, notions, etc. Most of it resides in baskets that I got at Home Goods and for the longest time these baskets were stacked one on top of another in a big tower. Since the baskets can be heavy it means I rarely got to go through my yarn stash and work on projects. I asked my dad several times to build me a shelving unit, but it never happened so I finally thought – why not build it myself?

Step one was taking measurements and figuring out dimensions for my unit – overall plus shelves & other details. I drew this rough sketch as my guide (obviously not to scale).

Next I headed out to purchase the wood (pine because apparently it takes stain very nicely) and I brought a knob from my dresser drawer to figure out what shade range I wanted to be in for the wood stain.

The next step was to cut the wood, and for this I asked my dad to cut everything to the measurements I spec’d. Secretly I think he was happy because it gave him an excuse to buy a new table saw (his old one found a new home with my brother). The wood was then sanded and wiped down.

I then stained the wood. Warning: If you do this wearing shorts and a tank you will end up with fake “age spots” from any splatter or drips. It took three weeks and a lot of exfoliating to make them go away. I then applied a coat of polyurethane.

Next step: assembly. Getting closer to a finished unit! Using a nail gun, nothing would take this piece down.

Here are photos of my finished unit and a before/after shot of the baskets stacked versus shelved. I have to take the baskets down soon to add the “feet” on the bottom and may give it another coat of polyurethane while I’m at it. I love the color, but I feel like the finish needs another coat of the polyurethane.

I spec’d the piece with a recessed top so that I could keep another basket or whatever else on top. The basket on top is actually much narrower so it works perfectly to keep my roll of knitting needles, crochet hooks, etc nested behind it. No more lifting numerous baskets; I can access everything by just sliding the baskets out a little! Not bad for a DIY project.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Conan

Little Boy Blue Blanket

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A family friend is expecting a little boy. A handmade blanket is a gift that is always appreciated and useful! I like to make baby blankets “toddler-size” so they can be used for a number of years, and can be converted to a throw when the child gets older.

This adorable “Little Boy Blue” blanket, as I refer to it, was crocheted all in one piece using a large crochet hook and two strands of yarn held together. I started by making many rows of double crochets.

When I had a decent size to it, the piece was turned and I started making row after row of “border” stitches in different sizes (singles, triples, half doubles…) creating what would appear to the untrained eye as a big granny square.

Photo Credit: lawagency.co.uk

Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow,
The cow’s in the corn;
Where is that boy
Who looks after the sheep?
Under the haystack
Fast asleep.
Will you wake him?
Oh no, not I
– Mother Goose

Reupholstered Dining Room Chairs… set #2!

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This summer I helped my other sister reupholster her set of dining room chairs. We were fortunate enough that the cushions were still in great shape and didn’t need to be replaced so it was really just changing out the fabric.

I unscrewed the seats from all of the chairs and numbered every seat, chair base and set of screws so each set would be fastened back together after they were recovered.

Then came the super-fun part… removing the old fabric. First of all, the fabric was fastened with teeny tiny staples that couldn’t be pried out with pliers, staple removers, flathead screw drivers, the back of a small hammer head, or any other tool we could find. A few were loosened enough when the fabric was pulled that I could get at them with pliers, but 99% of them were destined to stay in there.

We ended up removing the fabric, cutting and yanking around all of the staples (of which there were a LOT). And this fabric was truly amazing. It must have had a resin coating on the back of it – maybe to help adhere to the cushion? Or maybe on the surface to help make it stain-resistant? In any case, after these many, many years (my sister purchased this dining set a couple of years ago from an older lady) this resin had made the surface of the fabric very sticky. It made removing it that much of a messier job. It took the better part of a day to strip all of this fabric! The best part of the day was when we took a late afternoon break to watch Project Runway and the Weaser’s Ice truck paid us a visit.

My sis picked out a nice fabric to recover these chairs. It is a thin plaid pattern, neutral with some subtle pops of color. It has a soft hand feel and is nice to sit on. Here’s a good comparison shot of the two fabrics so you can see the difference, especially in texture. We never realized just how purple the old fabric was! (She is still working on lighting in her dining room so the fabric often looked a little more brown than purple.)

It was a relief when all of the old fabric was taken out with the trash! My sister kept a small swatch for her Home Binder which shows a lot of the before/after of her renovations. I think she also keeps the binder full with a lot of tear sheets from magazines/catalogues and swatches of design ideas she likes or fabrics and paint colors she has considered. One by one I was able to start covering the seats with the new fabric, then fastening them back to the chair bases.

Check out this before/after photo!

And another before/after shot. It really brightens up the room.

I think the chairs came out great! I left my sister with a bottle of Scotch Guard so she can take on the last step of the chairs’ new look. The room looks great and the fabric goes well with all seasons. Next project: reupholstering two chairs in her bedroom! Hopefully I can get that done in early November.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Regina Spektor

Handmade Bat Napkin Rings

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Halloween is just around the corner and I decided to create a little decoration for my mom. I love bats and wrote a pattern to create a no-sew napkin ring all with one piece of fabric. Awesome. Check out the little winged creatures:

What I’m listening to as I write this post: The news on TV (so sad, they are talking about Steve Jobs)

Housewarming Handmade Coasters

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A great housewarming or holiday gift for somebody is some stylish handmade coasters. I made these for my sisters, picking out fabrics specific to their personal taste and living room color schemes.

This first set used fabric to not only complement the light green sofa and chaise in my sister’s living room, but also to incorporate pink which is one of her favorite colors. I used pink contrast thread for all of the stitching.

Paisley is always a great choice for an accessory. These coasters are a perfect use of your “fat quarters” or fabric remnants in your stash.

This second set used a blue fabric to bring a pop of color to my other sister’s living room. Her furniture is a nice neutral color so you could really pick anything to accessorize it. I chose blue since this is a color theme present throughout the room (crocheted blanket, pillows, vase, etc). The contrast thread is a beautiful grey color that complements the outline of the floral stems. This sister is also very patriotic so red and blue are always an appropriate choice.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: The Actual Tigers

More Blankets!

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BIG STITCH KNIT BLANKET

My friend got married a couple of weeks ago (amazing, gorgeous wedding!) and I knew I wanted to do something special for her and her husband. I took a look at their registry and saw bedding and pillows in greys and silvers so I thought it would be great to knit a blanket that complements the set.

I knit this on massive (I mean 3 feet long and super-fat) big stitch needles. It was very awkward, to be honest. These giant needles are what created the big stitches you see in the blanket.

I mostly knit this in stockinette stitch, but I added in a bunch of reverse-stockinette stitch rows at the ends and throughout to create more texture and more of a pattern. This was knit with three strands of yarn held together: 1 Cape Cod Blue and 2 Off-White. Hopefully my friends can cozy up under this blanket all winter long.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE BABY BLANKET

I know the photos on this one are kind of awful. At the time I took a snapshot (I believe with my 35mm camera) just so I would remember the blanket. I didn’t realize I would be doing anything with it later on.

This blanket was crocheted for a friend’s baby girl at least 12 years ago. I made up the pattern for the granny squares.

This was crocheted with a multicolor yarn. After all of the squares were completed, I sewed them together then added a crochet border.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE COLLEGE BLANKET

When a friend of mine was midway through college she moved into her first apartment. I thought it was a perfect time to make a blanket for her.

I crocheted this about 7 years ago. And randomly, I bought the yarn in Brooklyn. I chose the cream as a neutral base and added the green accent because it was her favorite color.

I wrote the pattern for this blanket, as well. It’s actually pretty big – I could have left off the outer row of cream squares. After all of the squares were made, I sewed them together then added a crochet border – two rows of cream, a row of green then one last row of cream to finish it off.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE WINTER BLANKET

I crocheted this blanket about 7 years ago. I don’t remember why I picked these colors. It was probably getting close to winter and pine trees were on my mind. Oh gosh, I can’t wait until winter – you walk down the streets of NYC and in every neighborhood there are Christmas tree vendors on the sidewalks. It smells so good! And an added bonus: no humidity!

(Yes, that is some of my yarn stash in the background.) The accent squares consisted of multiple colors – forest green, lace and off-white, and the base squares were crocheted with a solid forest green. Both the forest green and the lace colors were integrated into the trim.

While it’s not my favorite design that I created, this is really such a warm blanket. It’s great to wrap around yourself and cozy up in a chair.

Reupholstered Chairs

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When my younger sister moved into her new apartment a couple of years ago my parents gave her this beautiful pair of chairs that belonged to my great uncle. The color, the wood carvings, the details were all gorgeous – except for the cushions. They were a little… we’ll say flat.

My sister had a lot of work ahead of her with moving and unpacking, so I helped out with reupholstering these two chairs. New cushions, new fabric, new look! Look at this beautiful textured fabric my sis picked out. Remember: you can click on any photo in this blog for a larger image. She used the same fabric for accent pillows on her living room couch and chairs.

I think they came out beautiful. The chairs are placed in her living room as extra seating. I wish I had before/after shots and a step-by-step tutorial from this project, but all I have are photos of the finished product. I did find for you an amazing DIY tutorial put together by the design*sponge blog last month. Check it out!