Each Christmas, one of the requests at the top of my “wishing for” list is an Esther Clark calendar for the upcoming year. Esther’s botanical art is beautiful and delicate – to me, it captures the essence of the plants and flowers she is sketching, and I look forward to the turning of the calendar’s pages to reveal each month’s artwork.
At the end of the year, I can’t bear to recycle such wonderful art, but I don’t want it to just gather dust in a drawer, either, so what to do with it? I decided to create a rustic leather portfolio that keeps the art clean and safe, but allows me to flip through the pages. And, with the leather ties as binding, I can add calendar pages from subsequent years until I have an entire book of botanical art.
I love hand-poured candles and local, small-batch honey – two small indulgences that support artisans and add a little special touch to every day. As a result, I end up with a lot of leftover glass jars – too lovely to recycle, but by now, taking up a lot of storage room! Sometimes, I pour my own candles and gift them as gifts to friends and family, but I much prefer buying the beautiful fragrances from Wax & Wool 🙂
My newest creation is a “triple threat” recycle project: it uses up leftover bits of yarn, scrap pieces of felted wool, and all of the pretty jars I’ve been collecting. The pincushions are both beautiful and functional, and truly embrace “wax & wool,” since the jars come from candles (soy wax) or honey (beeswax), the covering is felted wool, and the stuffing inside is wool fiber. I had fun trying to match the yarn and felted wool colors to the names of the honey or the candle scents 🙂 Each is unique, and they make special gifts for sewists, crafters, and makers of all kinds.
This pincushion was inspired by an upcoming project in By Hand Serial Lookbook No. 7, due out late September, so if you’d like to learn how they’re made and how you can make one of your own, check out Issue #7!
A quick and easy project, a chance to play with Rit Dye, and new ombre summer kicks for my youngest daughter 🙂
I followed the directions here, used color Aquamarine, and dipped them in Rit Fixative before tossing them into the washing machine. I wish that I’d been able to keep them whiter toward the back of the shoes, but when I dipped the toes, the front toe wells filled up with liquid, and there was no way to pour it out without getting at least a little dripped over the backs. Next time, if I wanted to keep a portion entirely white, I’d coat it with Vaseline ahead of time (like I did the rubber edging and soles).
It’s sure a fun way to create one-of-a-kind tennies in custom colors!
While traveling around Lake Michigan for interviews and photographs for By Hand’s upcoming Lookbook No. 5, I took a little time to hunt for beach pebbles along the lake’s shore. I came home with a pocketful of rocks, not sure what to do with them. I didn’t want to just leave them, forgotten and dusty, in a jar on the windowsill . . . so I contacted Michigan jeweler Liz Saile, who creates jewelry from native Michigan stone, including stitch markers for LYS Wool & Honey. I sent her my rocks, and she polished them up and set them for me. I love what she did, and now I can enjoy them every day!
This “rock” is actually a piece of coral; Liz created a minimalistic pendant setting that holds it securely, yet still shows off as much of the piece as possible.
These rocks are Leland Blues – read about them here, it’s a fascinating origin story, and they can only be found in Leelanau County along the shores of Lake Michigan. Liz created jump hoops for them – I could now string them on a necklace or bracelet, or use them as stitch markers.
These final two are small pieces of quartz, that polished up beautifully.
I took my leftover scraps of Brooklyn Tweed Loft and Shelter yarns, rolled them into balls, tied the balls each into its own “chamber” in the stocking leg of panty hose, and ran them through a hot washing machine with a little bit of detergent. Amazingly, I had to do it four times – plus a trip through the dryer – before they felted enough.
Next, I collected acorn caps from under our oak tree and used a hot glue gun to attach them. The heathered colors of Brooklyn Tweed yarns are definitely perfect for fall!
By Hand is a series of lookbooks that focus on different fiber and fabric “making communities” around the country.
Each serial will feature photo journals and interviews with both up-and-coming and well-known yarn designers and dyers, local yarn stores, knitwear designers, fabric artists, and other makers who share the same philosophy and aesthetic of hand crafting functional forms to share and connect with others in the community. Projects, patterns, classes, and opportunities to purchase the artists’ work will also be included, as well as an opportunity to share what is beautiful and unique about each locale.
THE FIRST ISSUE OF BY HAND IS BASED IN PORTLAND, OREGON AND FEATURES:
This is a great project idea from Wool & the Gang – you order the kit and it comes with everything you need to make these very cool slides! I don’t crochet at all, so I wasn’t sure at first if I could manage it, but Wool & the Gang also has a complete step-by-step video tutorial – I followed it the entire way through, and I didn’t have any problems.
The yarn is Mixtape, a ribbon-structure upcycled cotton, and the stitch is very tight – as you can imagine it has to be, in order to make the fabric dense enough to work as the upper on a slide. As a result, it really tortured my hands, but the pieces you’re crocheting are so small that it doesn’t take too long.
I ordered the Mixtape in White Noise, and then used Rit Dyes to experiment with different color schemes. First, I used a paintbrush to create a spatter effect with three different colors:
I loved how it looked, but once it was stitched up, it was very subtle – which doesn’t work well for something worn on your feet. I figured that for all intents and purposes, it would just look white. So, back to the drawing board . . . the next time, I used fuchsia Rit Dye – just a little in a tupperware – and swished the yarn around, careful not to let all of it get colored. When it was stitched up, it had a tie-dye effect – exactly what I was going for.
I ordered size 8 shoes and they’re a little large – I’d probably go with size 7 the next time around. Otherwise, the fit seems good and the uppers are stiff and stretchy enough to keep my feet in the shoes. We’ll see how well they do when I’ve worn them for a while, but for now, they’re the perfect addition to my summer wardrobe!
Between knitting and sewing, I’ve made a lot of what I wear on a daily basis, almost from head to toe – hat, scarf, shirt, sweater, dress or skirt, socks – which got me to thinking: could I make my shoes, as well? As luck would have it, I found an incredible instructor here locally in Portland (you can check out his website at www.laughingcrowe.com). He offered both classes and private lessons – I opted for the latter, to give myself more flexibility in terms of time and project.
We scheduled four days in a row, 9am-5pm, for the lessons. In the end, we were able to move faster and I was able to stop an hour or so early on most of the days, and we needed only a few hours the last day, but it was still an intense and time-consuming process. I learned an incredible amount, not only about how boots are made, but about their history, why they’re shaped the way they are, about leather and how it’s made and used, and a plethora of other information that I never even thought about.
The process itself required both machinery and a variety of hand tools – more gluing and less sewing than I expected. Many of the steps were challenging physically, and I would have done better if I had more than a passing familiarity with using hand tools. However, none of it was impossible, and my instructor did an excellent job of letting me do most of it, but stepping in to help if needed to keep me from ruining the final product.
Here’s a photo journal of the process – I didn’t take pictures of each step, by any means, and there are a lot more steps than I expected!
I found a new use for my smallest wheel thrown pots – handmade candles!
First, I made small handleless cups (aprox 3/4 pound of clay each). I glazed the interior and the top 1/3 or so of the exterior, and used the opportunity to test out some new Mayco Stroke & Coat glazes. Here’s what they looked like before they became candles:
Next, I stocked up on candle making supplies at Portland Homestead Supply Company, an amazing store for all kinds of lost-art home crafts. I started by cutting wicks to length, inserting them into the metal wick holders, using sticky dots to secure the wick holders to the bottoms of the cups, and then holding the wick taut on a handy little metal tool (although I found that a pencil and a piece of scotch tape worked almost as well!)
Next, I broke up the large hexagon of beeswax and put the chunks in a glass jar, which I heated on the stove in a pot with several inches of water. It took forever! I could not believe how long the wax took to melt – I kept checking on it to see if there was anything I could do to make it melt faster, but eventually, I just let it take its own sweet time 🙂
Finally, I carefully poured the melted wax into the cups, let it set up, and ta-da – beautiful homemade beeswax candles!
I purposefully did not fill them all the way to the top, but instead left some headspace, so that you can admire the color on the inside, as well as the outside.
I used just one of my handleless mugs glazed in Mayco’s Speckled Stroke & Coat – I really like how this one came out, even though it’s a little larger and chunkier:
Inspired by a friend’s design, I used remnants from a tree we recently had cut down, a few candles and glass vases, and a small collection of succulents to create a centerpiece for our kitchen island that celebrates the coming of spring!
I love finding new, creative ways to use fabric as art – simple and uncomplicated, yet beautiful! This one was inspired by a similar display at Modern Domestic – while I was there, I bought the wood embroidery hoops and a few fat quarter cotton solids in yummy pink, peach and sorbet colors.
I ironed them, stretched them in the frames and pulled out any wrinkles, trimmed off the excess fabric around the edges of the frames, and hung them from the ceiling with thumb tacks and thin gauge wire – couldn’t be easier!
I love how the sun comes through and shows off the colors, and how they add color and movement to my hobby room, without taking up wall space or getting in the way. I’ve seen displays where beautiful fabric samples are stretched into embroidery frames and mounted on the wall, but in my house, wall space is at a premium, so this is the perfect solution!Pin It
I recently took a lot of close-up photos of the gorgeous hydrangeas blooming in our yard, and I thought the photos would be great candidates for enlargement and mounting on aluminum plates. Thanks to websites like Aluminyze, you can print photos on aluminum just as easily as on paper or canvas.
I chose four photos, ordered them as 16″ squares, and mounted them in a four-square arrangement on my bedroom wall – the colors show up beautifully against the soft grey of the walls. What I think is so cool is that they look just as good as these three prints hanging above my bedroom – and I purchased those at an art show from a professional photographer!
The beaches on Turks & Caicos had an amazing variety of beautiful, teeny-tiny seashells – so small that dozens of them would fit in your hands. The girls filled their pockets and we brought home some of the really special ones as souvenirs. When we got home, I didn’t want them just sitting in a drawer, or dumped in a jar where we couldn’t look at them individually and appreciate each one.
So, I used some authentic Turks & Caicos sand and created a candle centerpiece. The best thing about displaying them this way? You can see each shell, marvel at its miniature perfection, and be transported back to the moment when we were on the beach at Turks & Caicos.
Time to take down the handblown ornaments that I had hung from this large branch suspended above our kitchen island . . . but I liked the look of the branch and thought, can I use it for the next season / holiday?
What’s more perfect for Valentines Day than hearts! This was a simple (and relatively quick) hand sewing project – I used this project idea and template from Purl Bee, doubled the size of the heart template and left off the pocket, and used whatever leftover felt and Chinese knotting cord I was able to find on my craft room shelves.
I could have sewn them up more quickly on the machine, but I like the hand sewn, whip stitch look:
Quart-size mason jars, some faux snow, pine cones and pine needles gathered from outside, lace and twine – add some tea lights, and these candles make beautiful table centerpieces throughout the holiday season and into the wintery New Year!
Throughout this past summer, I used Sharpies to record some of the fun activities our family did. I included both big vacations, and small moments. Then, at the end of the summer, I baked the porcelain plate in the oven – instant summer memories! Learning from my experience with the teacher mugs, I baked the plate at a higher temperature – 425 degrees for 30 minutes. The upside – I think it’s finally waterproof (and maybe even dishwasher proof, although I’m reluctant to test that out). The downside – the Sharpie colors really faded, so the final product isn’t nearly as bright or colorful as I thought it would be. I figure that’s okay, though, because you can still read all the memories!