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Point #43-Grindhouse

17 Jan

I don’t know if it is a sickness or a sign of sheer Optimus Woot-itude (when my dreams of becoming a super hero come to fruition, my name shall be Optimus Woot) that I can scarcely look at a piece of plastic without picturing what I might be able to do with it. Whenever I buy a new pepper grinder, the grinder part is covered with a plastic cap. These little incidental pieces off of every day food packaging fall under two categories in my head: very disposable and too substantial to be accidental, usually as a result of their shape and the material out of which it is made. It isn’t to say the the very disposable isn’t useful; anyone tying up a tomater plant with a stray twist tie or occupying a kitty cat with a milk jug ring can attest to that. But some of these little treasures just scream to be used for something. This pepper grinder cap is just such a substantial piece and I am sure that my endless staring at it in lieu of doing the dishes would have been amusing to any onlookers. Of course, I will do just about anything in lieu of doing the dishes, including self dentistry. Stare stare stare stare. What can I use this thingie for? As it has a nice little shallow rim and a convenient little tab sticking out of one side, it does sort of cry out “I am pendant waiting to happen!” I want to think of something truly awesome for it, though.

Which has me thinking. I really suck at crafts. I do. I am not a master sewer, knitter, crocheter, or painter. I do not excel at cross stitch, watercolour, bead weaving, or collage. I do not make dolls, use pastels, or sculpt. My rubber stamping looks like something monkeys would do. What I do is take a lot of crap that any rational sane person would take one look at and toss into the trash with a carefree flourish and try to figure out what I can do to make it useful or pretty. The more lowly any item is to start, the prouder and more satisfied I am with the outcome. I almost feel like I am cheating to start with actual raw craft supplies.

Monocle!!!! That’s what I should make out of it! I will be so awesomely steampunk with my pepper grinder monocle! Ok, maybe I need to stop drinking coffee.

Point #38-No Place Like Gnome

2 Jan

I am going to go out on a bold and daring limb here.

Buy gnomes.

You know…garden gnomes. I think gnomes are going to be big this year, mostly because I have become mildly enamoured of them and am willing them into popularity with the power of my brain darts. They are fun, easy to personalise, and can be found for a song at yard sales and thrift stores. I found several at a yard sale recently and went to town making them a bit weird for the enjoyment and “WTF?”-ery of others. For my West Indian father, I painted a gnome as a tourist visiting our home island of St. Vincent, complete with tropical printed overalls and a gnome hat painted with the Vincy flag. The end result was a certain something that art critics the world over have dubbed “tacky” and “odd”. I take great delight in this being in my dad’s yard. He and his girlfriend seemed to enjoy the off-putting charm of it, though, and that is all that matters. Another gnome has gotten the Steelers treatment, complete with eye blacking and wielding a large hoe. Haha! That must be a Ben Roethisberger gnome, amirite? *fist bump left hanging*

I think that there is a lot of scope for imagination with gnomes, as well as other plaster critters and folk. My niece found a little ceramic bunny at a thrift store once that, well, it could only be described as “possessed by demon lords from the depths of Hell”. It appeared to have been painted for a young child’s room. I am assuming Rosemary’s Baby. My niece (thirteen years old and charmingly morbid) decided this little gem was just terrifying enough to make…more terrifying. On Thanksgiving, a holiday, of course, traditionally marked by the giving and receiving of horrifying statuettes, she bestowed upon me her completed efforts: a vampire bunny in full bloody rage, blood on teeth and paws and with bits of brain and stitching scattered on his Gothically ruined body. *sniffle* The psychotic little nippers grow up so fast, don’t they?

Thus, I recommend that you wander the aisles of your local thrift store for whatever strange little creature you can and see what you can make of it. It fact, just now, I have decided I want see them. How’s that for spontaneous? Let’s get an informal little linky party going here. Link back in the comments to your best thrift store creature redux. Scary or sweet, silly or artistic, I want to see what you can do with that creepy ceramic cat. Post your creation by January 16th and I will select a winner. The prize will be awesome. It will look stunning in your garden.

Point #35- Your Brother’s Old Furniture Sucks

22 Sep

There comes a point in your life where you should not be getting hand-me-downs from your YOUNGER brother. When that brother is (sorry, Alastair…not that he will ever read this) of typically dubious taste (as a young bachelor should be), the suck increases exponentially. I know I am a dumpster diver, but getting my brother’s old dresser, by way of my sister, who had it in my niece’s room, gah! It seemed just a little too “Please, sir, may I have some more…sketchily painted and sadly handed down cheap pine bedroom pieces?” for my liking. Ya know, if Oliver Twist was having trouble furnishing and decorating an en suite.

It isn’t a bad little dresser, save for one slightly wonky drawer. It just belonged to that that 90s school of thought that says absolutely everything is better with a light white wash stain, including furniture, pets, jeans, your dreams, and the economy. It’s certainly a roomy creature, having six big drawers and four small ones, with a lovely big top to hold all of one’s little knick knacks and doohickeys. And all kidding aside, I was pleased to have it.

And so it sat, with a deep, profound sitness, performing the important function of being the place I always intended my clean laundry to be put into but usually ended up wearing right out of the rumpled basket, and gathering assorted detritus on its top. One day I decided enough was enough, and resolved to paint it black. Unintentional Rolling Stones reference notwithstanding, I thought it would work well in my bedroom.

Quick explanation: I have settled on the theme of “vampire bordello” for my bedroom. I wanted a rich, cozy, low light nest with ornate details, Asian and Eastern influences, a little Victorian, definitely sexy. Like someone had lived a long life, travelled much, and surrounded him/herself with the resulting trappings of same. Lots of red and purple, black accents, texture, colour, etc.

So I got the dresser about half painted before I thought to take before pictures. Whoops.

The bottom half is the original “This would look awesome with my Friends poster!” white wash finish.

Aw, fart…it’s sideways, but you get the picture.

The black was just plain craft paint, which in addition to being a bad idea texture wise (I never sand crap, remember? It shows) was too flat to be appealing. I figured I would eventually polyurethane it and that would fix the problem. Again with the sitting for months.

Recently I decided to kind of start over and cover the black with a nice dark reddish purple glossy paint. The first coat, streaked like a glaze with the black just peeking through looked so cool, I went with it. I am lazy, so the painting process took the form of “whenever I damn well feel like it” meaning essentially a drawer or two…read my book…a drawer or two…work on another project….a drawer or two…take a nap, and so on. This went on until this past weekend, when, the dresser almost finished, I took a trip to IKEA and found some gorgeous purple napkins that I knew I could decoupage on SOMETHING. I wasn’t thinking of the dresser at the time, but when I came home and took them into the bedroom to find some inspiration, I realised the colours were perfect. And so:

I can’t really say that the flash does or doesn’t make it look lighter or darker, because while it does make the glaze “hot”, to borrow a theatre lighting term, so does natural sunlight hitting it right. The colour is immensely changeable, which would normally bug the crap out of me, but perfectly fits in with the look I am going for.

Mod Podging with napkins can be tricky, you want to have your placement pretty well set before you squish it down and smooth out the bubbles. Make sure you remove at least one ply from the napkin (I suggest, at least), although I left a second one to give it heft. Even the wrinkles work when you smooth it down…gives it a cool fabric or even leather look.

So that is my first big furniture redo. It only took the better part of year to get around to. Remember, if it’s worth doing, it is worth involving a lot of naps.

Point #32-Always Look Past a Bad Paint Job

12 Sep

Oh man, is there a lot of crap out there. I, like many fellow crafty types, like to troll the thrift stores to find treasures just waiting to have their potential unlocked. I found one such diamond in the rough at my local Goodwill: a tabletop cabinet that revealed itself upon getting it home and untaping the taped-shut doors to have a tiny set of drawers inside. Not even that tiny; they easily hold my makeup and other small items. But I digress…in very un-me fashion, I will leave off the thick wall of bloggy text and let my pictures and commentary do the talking on my latest project.

This is what I started with. I saw its awesome bones right away. The dreadful country nightmare of a paint job will HAVE to go, though.

When I bought it, it was taped shut and so I wasn’t sure if the inside was shelves or what, so I was really excited to get it home and find a tiny set of drawers inside. This would be a cool way to hide away makeup and other small items on my bureau. The horrific festival of suck continues on the inside paint job, however.

I assault your eyes with a view of both the inside and outside at once. You are welcome. And ack! with acking…the paint carnage wraps around both sides, too.

Oh my dear sweet Jesus…this thing does NOT want to take paint. Yes, I know sanding helps. No, I do not want to. It will take eight trillion coats to cover the grim jollity of the world’s tackiest cheer fest. I think dozens of My Little Ponies died painting this thing. I don’t know how, I just sense they did.

In spite of the fact that the original paint is still leering like an undead spector at me, I can already see improvement. My plans for the doors mean I can ease up on the frantic painting on those sections at least. This helps alleviate the “The hills, THE HILLS! The flowery, bloody, evil hills” that I keep muttering as I feverishly splash red paint about with terrified abandon.

Ok…the bad paint job has almost entirely gone away now. I am breathing more easily and the South Park episode “Christmas Critters” has ALMOST stopped flittering through my brain.

Drawer is painted copper, the sides are fully coated, and I know the door will soon be covered so thoroughly the scary romping cheermongers of doom will never escape that damn meadow. The door knobs are copper, too, and wanting a little extra detail up top (where formerly was seen a painted pink bow….a frightening, frightening bow) I stuck on a clear plastic self adhesive scrapbook detail and than splattered some copper paint on it.

Ha! Take that, frolicking hordes! I have covered the sylvan terror with sheet music (The Coronation Mass, same as the mirror I recently did) that has been aged with coffee and walnut ink. I decoupage it on the doors and the tiny piping voices of evil woodland creatures finally cease.

The little bun feet painted copper. A word about a couple of details: as horrible as the original paint job was, a couple of original bits were allowed to show through. The inside of the doors, for instance, went from a stark, uneven black and white stripe to a softer, more festive looking stripe reminiscent of a turn of the last century carnival or Moulin Rouge look. Very 19th century. It reminds me of carnival bunting or a lady’s walking costume, all striped silk and elegance. The round feet had a swirled design with that same feel, and I didn’t cover them quite as thickly to let that show through the copper.

The paper has been decoupaged on and a dry brushing of gold paint to make it shine more. It catches the light and adds to the luxe look I was going for. Suck it, flowery hills. The sides have also been dry brushed with a bit of gold/copper paint to help mask the last remnants of the first paint job, and the upper edges has likewise been kissed just a bit with the metallic paint.

Little drawers to hold my treasures.

And there we go. I realise that that super cute country look has its place. But sometimes it is time to step away from the Donna Dewberry “Peaceful Meadow” collection and let the developers take over.

Point #30-My Fandom’s Made of Paint Chips

2 Sep

My last post, uploaded mere hours ago, outlined my groovy foray into the exciting world of figuring out what the shiny hell to do with all the paint chips I obsessively collect like Pogs. Or Pokemon cards. Crap, I don’t know what kids collect these days. Something to do with Twilight, no doubt, but you get my point.

The other night, my exhusband/bestfriend-type-person came a-swingin’ by with his lovely lady to pick up some books, and he took one look at my awesome paint chippery upon the wall and declared “want”. I am one to oblige my nearest and dearest who like them a piece of the hastily created out of random objects style of craft I produce and so I set to work the next day. Gary had a very simple colour request: black, gold, and white, stating that those colours “go with anything”. Horse doots. That isn’t why he picked those colours. You see, during my marriage to the fellow, I developed many fandoms, one of which in particular stays with me to this day. In spite of never having once set foot in Pittsburgh, I am a die-hard Steelers fan, as is he. This made the challenge doubly fun for me, and I set to work enthusiastically.

Crap crap crap crap, quintuple crunchy crap.

In limiting the colours to variations (and I most broadly interpreted, let me tell you) of the three he listed, I did not have enough of them in any one size to cover the other DAVE box (packaging from IKEA’s computer table, DAVE) fully. *kick chair, get in rage, wonder if drive to hardware store just to “steal” paint chips would be ridiculous…sigh* The neato thing is, this forced me to improvise, and honestly, I think the resulting project is actually awesomer (shaddup, it’s a word.) than my original attempt. The chips are different sizes, the colours are uniform but not matchy matchy, and the black paint outlines give it a cool graffiti finish that I like very much. It is subtly indicative of his favourite team, without outright using and abusing any logos or copyrights (observant folks may notice a subtle swish of paint on three chips meant to pay homage to the team logo in the shape of a hypocycloid; present, but not overwhelming) and something that even a non-fan would potentially find appealing strictly as a work of art. In other words: woo. Go me. Go Team! Go paint chips!!! *waves big foam finger*

This shows that wonderful Mod Podge shiny goodness:

A close up showing some textured chips as well as some left with the name of the paint colour showing:

A close up of the hypocycloids:

I’m entering the CSI Challenge this week! Check out their site for other awesome projects!

Point #29-Just Tell Yourself You Really WILL Paint the Spare Room Someday

2 Sep

I am obsessed with paint chips.

I promise I am going somewhere with this.

I collect paint chips with a furtive, secretive, obsessive glee that is going to land me on Hoarders one of these days, I swear. I have gone so far to acquire a small, desktop plastic little set of drawers to hold them, carefully arranged in order of colour and by manufacturer. I have even added a small label, helpfully proclaiming “PAINT CHIPS” in sensible white on black traditional label tape; indeed I used my handy (if slightly outdated) label maker, taking my customary pleasure in the solid “GRONCH! GRONHCH!” noise it makes as each letter is punched. I acquire these chips and then I sorta just…have them. It’s a pride of ownership thing that happens with many crafters, especially shoestring, seat of pants type crafters like me. You don’t even want to see the jar holding my bottle cap collection.

I knew someday that I would find use for this vast collection and recently I did! Now in the words of the great auteur Kevin Williamson (c’mon…you watched Dawson’s Creek, just freaking admit it)my idea is a “rip off of a rip off”, but I like my take on it. (Edit: I found the original post I was snaking the idea from!!!! In the world of commercial type art, those big canvases covered in colour blocks are very popular and tend to go with everything. The more expensive ones can be upwards of $200; the cheaper ones at Target are still around $50. As readers of this blog are aware, I tend not to spend money on commercial art I can make myselfand this was no exception.

Since I don’t have a start to finish tutorial on this, being a very simple project, I will share a few photos and then outline what I did. I know you are panting to know.

Pretty, no? And oh so easy peasy. I used some particularly cool almost square ones that are textured in some way…sandstone and Venetian plaster finishes and the like. I glued them down onto, of all the weird things, the packaging from a DAVE computer table from IKEA. The size and shape were perfect to emulate a broad canvas. Once they were all glued down, a quick smear of burgundy paint around each chip to rough up the edges and the whole thing looked painted. The whole thing was covered two layers of ModPodge to seal it and give it a nice shiny finish. Now, I wasn’t sure how to finish off the cardboard edges, which were not only the wrong colour, but also a bit torn from opening the merchandise to begin with, but some cool burgundy coloured duct tape wrapped around the edges finished it off nicely.

So there you go. Obsession is good, boys and girls. Hoard like mad. Saunter out of home improvement stores with your blouse stuffed with paint chips. Date the paint counter guy so he can hook you up. Live at the top of those big shelves and live off of plants in the nursery. No one will think it’s weird at all.

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 #21-Mod Podge Rocks and I Need to Write More

3 Aug

Ah, muse…where have you been. No matter. Here I am again, on my own, bringing to the world more adventures of the Accidental Artisan and her latest obsession, the art of decoupage. It’s nothing new for me, having been wont to glue things to other things for some time now. Once upon a time it was random objects to my bedroom curtain, and that was before the drugs. Decoupage is awesome because it is so very basic and awesome.

Step 1: Find something.

Step 2: Find something flat. (like magazine cut outs, etc.)

Step 3: Glue the shit together.

That’s it! Ok, there’s slightly more to it than that. First off, Mod Podge is your friend and you should accept no substitutes. Second, have a vague plan. Third, if you are mosaic-ing things, lay down all the big stuff first and fill it in with littler things. Fourth, colour is also your friend. Go f***ing bananas. Go here:

for the best ideas on the whole entire Intarwebz.

In other news, I finally got a Holga, but have not developed any pictures from it, I am still planning a wedding, but it’s sort of on hold at the mo’, and the tree that was cut down will not die quietly, but I haven’t really trimmed the suckers recently. In short, my life is kind of a big soup of half assery and I am ok with that.

This was so easy. Just cut pieces of scrapbook paper of different patterns and Podged that effer together. I am quite pleased with it.

Point #20-Sometimes Germs Create Martian Death Flu

13 Feb

Wow. I was sick from January 2nd to January 30th. And then I was trying to catch up with a lot of stuff. So I have been gone. And now I am back.

Trying to rehash the life of me in that month and a half long span of time will take too long, but here’s the basic gist:

I got engaged.
There were some holidays in there.
I really love soup.
I like to plan things in fits and starts.
I have some bad habits.
My backyard had a tree, and now it doesn’t.
I have developed an obsession with lo-fi photography.
As a result of which, at this moment, as I write this, my house smells like burning plastic.

Ok, so that last one is funny and disheartening all at once. I have been finding some odd little gems in the big bin o’ cameras at various thrift stores and today found an odd little piece of junk called a Vista KX-500. It is made in China with a Japanese lens…or something…and it was never used, but is obviously a slightly older model. Can’t find a lot of info on this guy…looks like an SLR, but is a viewfinder model with four f stops. It has a hot shoe, but also a built in flash. I installed some batteries, and hit the flash. Big beautiful flash. Then a big, beautiful smell. Followed by big beautiful plumes of smoke emerging from inside the camera and now the battery compartment appears to be shorted out. No matter. I can still use this guy, which I have dubbed Doob, because he smokes…ha ha ha, for outdoor shots and see what he can do. I still long for a Holga or a Diana, but until I know if I will even like this, I can live with what I got.

The world has also been a cold place lately. I have felt like doing little more than curling into tight little balls like my cats and sleeping for days at a time. I have been terribly unmotivated to get anything done of late, but that changes now. After all, if I can set small fires at the touch of a button, surely I can light a decent one under my own ass.

Point #14-Christmas is Interesting

28 Nov

45 cool points to whomever gets the reference in the title.

I have a tree. I put this tree up several days before Thanksgiving and am quite happy with dragging out the winter holidays super early, thank you very much. When I expressed this sentiment in the the form of, “I put up my tree. Shut up.” on my Facebook page, a friend responded that it sounded like K-Tel was putting out a new holiday collection entitled, “Shut Up, It’s Christmas”. I not only found this wildly hilarious, but had to concede that that is pretty much what any Christmas album I could ever release would be called.

So the tree is up, and I couldn’t be more pleased. As all my stuff continues languishing in a storage facility, and I have little extra cash or inclination to purchase lavish new decorations, this holiday is being done shamelessly on the cheap and mostly handmade. The tree itself, including lights, tinsel, and basic ornaments were purchased at a Goodwill store with the remainder being made when I feel like it and stuck on the tree over time. I should finish decorating sometime around December 27th, I reckon.

The ornaments so far are…well, interesting. I have taken ideas I have found from various sources and “added my own touches”, or “cocked them up” quite nicely. I made little candy type hearts with cardboard backed felt and puffy paint, which look pretty cute if you didn’t see the much nicer inspiration pieces made of polyfill stuffed felt and fabric flowers. I also made some gingerbread men out of the same materials, however, I didn’t make them terribly plump. In fact, they are downright scrawny. When my exbesthusbandfriend remarked upon it, I tried to front and say they were just supermodel gingerbread men, but the truth is, these little guys clearly don’t feel ok with themselves. They have gingerbulimia.

I have also made cards, which was a whole new experience for me. I barely keep and fulfill a Christmas list, let alone handcraft cards to send to it. There’s just a mental block against it. Maybe it was using cookie cutter cards and this is the solution. I like the people I know. I know they live out there somewhere. I know they like cards. I like cards. It just always seems so…worklike to send cards out. When I am independently wealthy (aaaany day now) I will keep a card sending wench of some kind on retainer. I will make her answer to Becky like the scullery maid in A Little Princess and pay her in small amounts of money appropriate to buying crusts of bread and Fresca, giving the whole venture a Dickensian feel. You know, for the Christmassiness.

As the month goes on, no doubt all measure of mad things will be going up on the tree in the form of can tops, and bits of magazines and twine and such. It will be glorious. I just hope the gingerbulimics don’t persuade the can top snowmen to go emo and start cutting.