Sunday, January 29, 2012

Photo Setup

So I was getting tired of my very large and cumbersome photo lighting setup so I built something more compact. I will post a more complete description in upcoming posts.

My old setup.
My new table-top version.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I have been meaning to post these photos forever, but keep forgetting. As followers of my blog and facebook page know, I have been playing around with felting 100% wool blazers and sweaters to use in craft projects, such as felt wreaths, felt phone caddies, and pin cushions. When I felt the blazers I completely rip all the seams apart so that I am washing pieces of fabric. I can tell that the pieces shrink during the process, but it is hard to tell exactly how dramatic the size change is. Sweaters on the other hand I felt intact and then cut apart. Depending on the type of wool and how heavy the sweater is will affect how much they are going to shrink up. Sometime the change is huge and literally makes me laugh when I pull out a men's XL and it now looks like a child's sweater.

Here are some before and after photos to give you an idea.

Man's XL 100% wool sweater.

After washing the sweater in hot water through three cycles.

The dramatic change in size once the felting process occurs.

NOTE: I just want to warn you that felting in your washing machine is not supposed to be the greatest for the filter. It produces a huge amount of lint. If you can clean it out of the washing machine drum before it going through the rinse cycle and filter that would be better. If you run these in your dryer be sure to check the lint filter often on that too. You will completely fill it in no time. You can save this to use as stuffing too if you want. I stuffed a couple of pin cushions with it, but then got tired of collecting it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Level Two

So as soon as I made the first level of the stamp carousel I knew that I was going to need a second one. Originally I thought the second tier would be smaller, but unfortunately making it any smaller dropped the number of spaces down significantly. I figured it was better to give myself room to grow, so I made this new one the same diameter as the base. Now I have room for 24 blending tools. I have 20 right now, though all haven't been assigned a color.

I also added a loop on the top so that I could spin it easier and for carrying. I want a bit more decorative knob, but this was the best I could find at Home Depot and I was impatient to get it completed. Right now the piece is just oiled, but I will probably add a coat or two of finish to seal it and bring out the beauty of the wood.

Monday, January 16, 2012

This House (or Room at Least) Is Clean!

I thought I better take some photos while my basket room was still clean, especially my big work table. I don't think the top has been clear in months, what with Christmas card and gift making. Grayson, is happy to have the whole table top back to himself.

My dad built me my big work table a few years ago. I love it, it is 5"x6" with plenty of space to spread out my projects. I designed it so that the base is open for storage. I have a couple of large clear storage bins with additional storage cases for my stamp ink pads, sewing machine, etc. 

My dad also made me the white shelves to hold clear storage boxes for my basket weaving supplies. I like to keep my materials sorted by size, so each box holds materials for a specific size basket. My Shaker and Nantucket molds fill up an antique bucket shelf. The walls are lined with baskets that I have made or collected.

A few years ago I added track lighting over my work table. It really helps so much. I have a number of goose neck lamps that I can adjust for specific task lighting.

Most people would use the largest room in the house as a family room, but I guess I am not "most people"...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Remembering Past Fun - JoAnn Kelly Catsos Workshop

I just put together the photo gallery of the workshop I hosted with JoAnn Kelly Catsos this past October. We made two black ash baskets, a black and natural twilled bowl and a captured lid cathead. Participants had a choice of twill design on the first bowl and for the second basket they could make either a 4" or 6" cathead. It is so much fun to relive all the fun times we had weaving and visiting with old friends. Here are some highlights from our three days of weaving.

JoAnn demonstrates setting up the quadrafoil lid for weaving.
JoAnn demonstrates finishing off the lashing on a Black Diamond bowl.
I made a special basket, a scaled version of a #9 captured quadrafoil lid cathead.

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Project of 2012!

I have learned a number of new stamping techniques this past fall. One of the really cool things I have added to my skill set is the use of Distress Inks and a blending tool. Basically a blending tool is a piece of foam sponge mounted to a wooden handle. You use the tool to create a blended antiqued or distressed looking edge to your paper and craft projects. I used this technique on my co-workers Christmas gifts this year.

The little pieces of foam attach to the wooden handle with velco so you can change them for each color. For most projects you would use one or two colors so would want multiple blending tools. In my stash of "stuff" I had 4 or 5 cigar boxes full of vintage wooden stamp blocks and handles that my dad had gotten at a garage sale or auction and thought I could use them. All my stamps either were already mounted to blocks or were the clear cling kind that wouldn't stick to these. I just been sitting on them for the last 5 years or so. After trying a blending tool for the first time a light bulb went off in my head. I had finally found a use for my boxes of blocks! They were all of various sizes, a few were the right size, but most were not, so I had to cut them down and drill new holes for the handles. I had enough that I was able to make a tool for each color of Distress Ink I have. 

Well, with all these blending tools storage was becoming an issue. You can buy metal racks designed to hold these, but they don't hold that many. I would love to find a nice two tiered vintage stamp carousel, but that is going to take some estate sale scavenging. So, in the interim I decided that I would make a wooden version. After an initial failed attempt I made some adjustments and the above photo shows the results of my work. My goal is to add either another level or to make a second one since I have more tools than this one will hold. It isn't fancy, but it works and the wood is kind of pretty.