Archive | August, 2010

Point #28-Sometimes You Just Have to Let Your Geek Flag Fly

24 Aug

I think the main telling point of a crafty or creative person is an utter inability to let well enough alone. This is why places like IKEA are so popular to crafty types. You can buy a cheap pine box of some kind or a table made of sheet metal and do amazing things to it, making it a one of kind piece. Easy peasy. I was able to hit my local IKEA for the first time in awhile and purchased, among other only semi-necessary things, a long mirror, because I am tired of trying to see my whole self in the various windows and bits of mirror I have hanging about. Lying in bed yesterday evening, I was staring at the mirror, looking at its plain piney plain-ness (it’s still hanging crooked, dammit) and thinking “Oi, I have got to do something with that mirror, considering the increasing kickassery of the rest of my room.” (I will not apologise for my internal wordiness, either, and yes, that is how I talk to myself. 🙂 )

As I lay there, ideas swirling about, I got a visit from a very special muse. This is the same angel that whispers the very best character stats she can into the ears of eager little gamers sitting in a basement somewhere, the muse that tells that cosplayer exactly what leather bustier will make her bosoms the very perkiest. I was visited by the Dork Muse.

Here’s how it all went down, and you be the judge. Nerdiest project ever?

Started with my IKEA mirror:

Added some detail in the form of moulding corners on the bottom and washers of different sizes and textures for an old little carved, steam-punk, really-don’t-want-it-plain-and-lame look:

Painted the whole frame, including over the details, to give it first a base of bronze, and then two different shades of gold, to look sorta like old, gilded wood:

Here’s where it gets geeky. Harry Potter fans will see where this is going right away. (Those that do not, here is what I was going for. Not the same thing at all, but my own version:

The word is made from some large cardboard letters, used primarily for scrapbooking and paper crafts. (A close look at the second “E” will reveal that, only having a singular E, I had to improvise with an F and a part of an L ruthlessly removed with a craft blade.) I glued them down onto a random board I had lying about-a lesson NEVER to throw out scrap wood! Next I needed to make the letters blend seamlessly with the board backing, almost carved or sculpted. You all know by now, I am a) pretty cheap and b) (say it with me, kids) lazy. I wanted something easy to spread, manipulate, and shape. Most would suggest a gel medium, but I had already gone to Home Depot for the moulding and washers and my feet hurt. I wasn’t going to the craft store for gel medium when I had perfectly good plaster of paris at home. The kiddie craft supplies, as stated in an earlier post, are often the best. Smearing that one was fun. I just brushed it over and around the letters, shaping a little beveled edge with my paintbrush, and added a scrollwork topper:

The plaque was painted in the same base shade and gold glazes, the letters first being drybrushed (generously) in black to make them stand out:

The topper piece was wood glued to the mirror and the whole shebang stuck on the wall:

So that was my nerdiest project to date. The &*%$ thing still isn’t hanging straight.


Point #27- The Day the Music Died

18 Aug

No, seriously. I have defaced a tiny guitar. Top that for a Tuesday night.

So I bought this little guitar at a cheapo Asian export dollar type store…it’s hard to explain, it’s not quite a dollar store, it isn’t actually Asian imports like rugs or furniture. What it is is cheap crap, but super fun cheap crap out of which can be made all sorts of fun stuff. Also they sell a lot of “novelty” knives and other weaponry. That can’t possibly end badly.

One of the things they had at this store were little guitars, slightly larger that a ukelele, and unbelievably badly put together, for about ten dollars. It was very clear when I got it home that this thing was never going to be fit to be played, but I knew I would find a use for it. And then tonight, suddenly, I did. Hurray!

First a sanded it a little around the edges:

And painted the sides with three colours of metallic paint, to make it look gold leafed, sort of:

Then I snapped the pokey bits off of some copper brads and decorated the fret board:

Next, I acquired some fabric scraps. These were some really nice gold and red silk bits from a sample book:

Started feeling a little punchy:

I think I might have hallucinated these guys.

Applied the silk scraps with Mod Podge. Got deeply concerned that the silk irreparably darkened as a result of the damp decoupage medium. Had mild rage as original vision of project floated away. Stared blankly at tiny, glued covered guitar for several minutes while fiance played Madden 10 in the background. Will now forever associate this with Cris Collinsworth voice, which is disturbing:

Once the Mod Podge started to dry, the patterns in the silk scraps started coming through beautifully, although my imagined view of a vibrantly coloured red and gold patchwork was gone. Instead, there was a really pretty, kind of antique Venetian carnival look to the surface. After staring at it a moment, I got an inspiration and brushed some gold lightly over the surface to give it a little shimmer. Because shimmer rox. Add a couple of little details, including a tiny “beautiful” plaque under the mirror, to remember I am beautiful even when I look like a troll with a disturbing skin condition.

This is the finished product. Feel free to “ooh”, and if you really feel like getting loose, “ah” as well:

I will add little hooks to the bottom, in the copper swirly pieces (which are simply sexy paper clips), so I can hang jewelry on them. Yay for me! It’s ok to think I am awesome.

Point #26-Kids Have the Best Craft Supplies or Ode to the Humble Crayon

14 Aug

Man, do I love crayons.

I went to Walmart the other night, and like any of the big box stores, they are having their annual “ZOMG! It’s Back to School and You Need All New Stuffaganza YAY!!!!”. I love school supplies. I remember well the first few days of a new school year, when the promise of newfound popularity, friends, and endless frolic was as shiny and hopeful as the brand new em-puppied Trapper Keeper and Lisa Frank folders stashed in your spanky new Jansport backpack. It usually took, on average, three to fourteen days for my new supplies, bit by bit, to disintegrate into tattered bits of plastic and paper scarcely held together by the equally shattered dreams of new social acceptance. Also, all my crayons were broken.

I think this is why, to this day, of all the school supplies one can admire and drool over in the pursuit of a vicarious thrill, crayons are the hardest for me to resist. Walmart, sensing and seeking to exploit the weakness, has 24 packs of Crayola crayons (GOTTA be Crayola…Rose Art can SUCK IT!) for a whopping 25 cents a box. Holy shit. That’s a penny a crayon! So I did what any sensible adult would do and bought eight boxes. What?! That’s two HUNDRED crayons for two hundred pennies; tell me you could have resisted. Besides, as part of my wacky, artsy, colourful, and let’s be frank, utterly childish wedding, I am going to provide colouring pages and crayons to the guests to play with during the ceremony. As a result, I have a real, legitimate reason to acquire large numbers of these little gems.

Crayons and I go way back. To this day, I get more pleasure out of the ownership in many ways than the use of them. I love getting new 96 packs and immediately putting all the colours in rainbow order, marching like flamboyant soldiers across the cardboard interior of that green and yellow box. Even now, I keep even the broken or worn out crayons that been retired in favour of a new box in a large tins for whatever cool project I can think of. There are so many things you can do with crayons. Aside the obvious, colouring books and the like, you can use them as an alternative collage medium, adding tint to homemade candles, melting into fabric or canvases to make a waxy Jackson Pollack type masterpiece…any number of awesome ideas. But when it comes down to it, part of me that is still ten years old will always be fulfilled by sitting down and carefully lining up those perfect little sticks of colour, like little gems in my own brilliant jewelbox.

(I did not do this. I am not nearly this awesome.)

Point #25-Yard Work, or How I Fought Off Zombies and Lived to Tell About It

6 Aug

Continuing off of my most recent post regarding home repair, it must be stated that certain things one must do to maintain a pleasant home are less than appealing. I live in an apartment and this is so; I cannot imagine the drudgery involved in owning an actual house. The late, great Mitch Hedberg said it best when he said “I shop at The Apartment Depot…just a bunch of people wandering around a warehouse saying ‘I don’t gotta fix shit!’ ” How very true this is. However, there are some things that cannot be avoided.

I am lucky enough, even in the renting of a modest apartment, to have a small backyard, fenced in and with enough expanses of dirt in which to plant to make me happy. I was happy. Then summer hit. I don’t get it. I moved in last summer and the yard was fine, even with rain and sun and all those things that make Florida that sort of place where produce spontaneously appears in your laundry. I can only assume shade from the now absent tree created a less welcoming environment for huge weeds and determined vines to wend their cunning way through my neatly tended beds, because this summer, Viet Nam. Every time I go back there I expect to find Alan Alda weeping over a chicken. Ok, mixing up of our hilarious Asian land wars aside, it’s gotten a bit…lush out there. So I did what any reasonable person would do. I ignored it like mad and hoped like hell the rats didn’t move back in.

I shall digress a moment. Months ago, for quite an extended period of time, I had a rat problem in the back yard. I had seen them occasionally and honestly they were sort of cute and didn’t bother me. Then I started noticing my plants being eaten, especially the flowers. When they were finished with the flowers, they started in on the plants themselves. I had to draw the line when they ate a soy wax candle I had left on the windowsill. I will spare all of the ways I attempted to humanely rid myself of them, save one, because it’s kind of hilarious. I was told they hate Irish Spring soap. I found some small bars at the dollar store and figured what the hell, I’ll give it a try. Shortly before dusk, I laid out pieces of soap amongst my plants and sat where I could quietly observe. What I observed was a rat jump down off of the fence, pick up a chunk of this allegedly hated soap the size of his head, and scurry off with it determinedly clutched in his mouth. The next morning, the apparently delicious soap was all gone. Bastards. Ultimately, the neighbour did what I refused to do and set out poison. No more rats.

So anyway, now I have a jungle growing back there and no clue what is lurking there. Rats? Snakes? Viet Cong? Who the hell knows. But I don’t have any napalm and the patio itself is being overrun. So I borrowed a weed eater from my good friend and set to work.

Last time I wielded a large power tool of some kind was my sister’s pressure washer. If you have never used one, I highly recommend it. It is fun to the point of illegality. At least the way I was using it, for while to the outside observer I was merely washing a SWEET rug I scored by the trash in my alley one day (seriously! An Oriental rug whose only issue is that some kid had gotten gum on it, which pressure washed right out) in my mind, I was blowing away aliens with my ENORMOUS ray gun, merrily shouting “Yippie ki-yi-yay, motherfuckers!” again mixing my movies metaphors. I was locked in a battle royale with unseen enemies of our planet, especially that little pink blobby one…down there…in the cornerrrrr, GOTCHA! HA! Take that, Gum Clingons!

It should come as no surprise then that when I took that weed eater to my own tiny corner of the Congo that I was not slaying weeds with a “Grass Hog” brand trimmer. I was mowing down zombies with a chainsaw. Next up: obtaining a chainsaw.

Point #24-Sometimes You Just Have to Use the Shoe…

5 Aug

…or the phone handset, or the handle of a screwdriver, or any number of inappropriate things. I am speaking, of course, of things one would use to drive in nails. What did you think I meant? Perv. I was staring balefully at the perennially busted hinges on my bedroom door (more on that in a moment) and thinking of the various creative approaches to home repair that I have taken over the years, hoping like hell that I am not the only one, and then remembering fondly that most of my friends, at their houses growing up, ALSO had a butter knife by the tv to tighten the cable box screws. You couldn’t find the screwdriver, that was wherever the last picture hung on the wall was, the hammer having been lost when your little brother took it outside to pound rocks with playing jailbreak with his friends. Ah yes, the great circle of “where the shiny shit did my right tool for the right job go?”. In short, sometimes you just have to make do and use what you have near to hand.

I must confess, one of my less marketable, but still managing to be awesome skills is that I can pretty much MacGyver what I have lying around to get the job done. Notice I do not say I do this well. That would be very much pushing it. Usually the results fall apart before long, but I can fake it for a little bit. Take the bedroom door. The hinges occasionally get all loose and make the door hang funny, the result of which is that the door doesn’t close properly and cats come in and express their love for me by taking a whiz on my bed. So I tighten the hinge screws (with my trusty butter knife) and all is well. For about a day. So I went in and looked and sure enough, the screw holes (heh heh heh) are too loose to hold the screws (heh heh heh) and that was the problem.

Now someone who actually cared about doing the job “right” would remove the hinges, take down the door, fill the holes with wood filler or putty, let it dry, sand it down, drill new pilot holes, rehang the door, and there you go. This sounded suspiciously like work. Those of you that follow my blog know that I avoid several things like the plague. People who don’t like Muppets, clowns, and work. Especially work. Well, and clowns. And stories about dying dogs. But mostly work. So I did whatever any sane woman with a butter knife and a dream would do. I stuffed the holes with toilet paper.

This is not as weird as it sounds. This is actually a trick that, you know, capable people who know what socket to use for what project and what winches actually are use. Paper is made of trees which are made of wood. Wood is made of trees, which are also made of wood. Hence paper and wood are both made of wood. Astounding! It’s SCIENCE! If you stuff little bits of paper into a wood hole (heh heh heh), you actually can compress it into a wood like substance. This works especially well if you are screwing in a screw after ward because the threads engage the paper fibers and hold them in place. Voila. A fixed door. The hinges work, the door closes, the cats remain firmly outside the bedroom, and I didn’t even have to break out the cheese ball spreader.

Point#23-Shameless Grovelling is Kinda Creative.

4 Aug

Just a quick thank you to all the folks that have hit up my blog in recent days, and especially for Amy from Mod Podge Rocks for featuring me on her Facebook page and sending a bunch of good folks my way. I tell you true, I love, shamelessly and gleefully love, folks subscribing to Points For Creativity, and I would be tickled all kinds of shades of pink if you would do so…if you’ve a mind to. I force no one. The indoctrination is all voluntary, I promise.

Point #22-Walm-Art is okay.

4 Aug

I have invented a word. Following in the august footsteps of such lofty wordsmiths like Shakespeare and Sarah Palin, I have felt the need to create a term to describe some of the “art” I do. I have stated many times that I do not consider myself an artist. (Sidenote: there is one exception to this. If I am at a party, and I don’t want to sound like a useless, space sucking slacker, I will not respond to the query of “So what do you do?” with “As little as possible as I wait for the bleak and barren landscape of the economy to bloom with fertile majesty and bear fruit in the form of a low stress, high paying job for my exclusive pleasure, but in the meantime I mostly eat Hot Pockets and troll Facebook.” No. I say, “I am an artist.” Craftswoman, artisan, etc I believe indicate more industry and practical application of the concept of work than I am usually capable of rousing. Artists naturally slack.) Sometimes, though, I feel the need to have something on the walls that I have actually made. Some crafty type items, like decoupaged mirrors, or painted doodads count as decorative items, but because scrapbook pages or comical crocheted hats or whatever else my craft de jour look odd tacked haphazardly to walls, I make “art”. And I have dubbed it Walm-Art.

It’s simple really. You go to Walmart or similar discount emporium, you can find some surprisingly decent pieces for a normal, non-art buying person to hang above the flat screen. Sometimes the flat screen IS the thing on the wall, but your bathroom could use a picture of some flowers in a rustic jug sitting on the edge of a well in springtime. (raise your hand if you have seen the picture in your home, your parents’ home, or the homes of your friends. I knew it) It’s inoffensive, sedate, non-meaningful eye pap that can be bought for a song and cover up that spot the pizza hit the night you were so drunk you thought it was a Frisbee. I have made a few pieces of Walm-Art, in various media on canvas, and I think they do much toward making the walls of your cheap and beer soaked rental less, and I mean this from the bottom of my artistic soul, “gross”.

This are three Big Lots canvases, cheap as butt, painted by me to be vaguely evocative of a dogwood or something.


and this:

were just made with Dollar Tree canvases printed with birds and flowers and shit that I painted over black and decoupaged paper pieced designs to.