Monday, May 16, 2011

Feather leather

What do you do with a suede skirt that's worn and torn? Turn it in to earrings! Just one skirt can produce at least 20 pairs. Anyway, that's what I did.

Add a few feathers and some acrylic paint, and you're set, presents for all your friends for a year!

You can also add odd beads or medallions you might find at street sales, or re-purpose parts of other earrings.

For these ones, I also reused earring backs I had from old earrings I no longer wanted. I Just soak them in rubbing alcohol or vinegar and you're ready to go.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bootie for Baby

Making gifts for grown-ups is rewarding and all, but baby gifts are different. You get to choose themes you might otherwise deem cheesy, and indulge in your own, forgotten childhood fancies. Sure you want to appeal to the parents to some degree, but there's more space to experiment. At the end of the day, the baby will forgive you your mistakes and undoubtedly make the gift look cute no matter what. So, here are a few baby gifts I've made.

This sailboat pillow and matching onesie was made for a brand new baby who lives out at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. The pillow was made from an old pillow case I found at the White Elephant Sale and the onesie was found at a garage sale. The anchor is a hand-made stamp and the words were painted by hand with textile paint.

These "applique" sweaters were made for two toddler brothers who live in Chicago. The one loves cars more than most anything, and the other is too young to have clearly defined preferences, so I got to choose! I found the sweaters at Thrift Town and the felt came from Scrap.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Card by Any Other Name ...

I've been making handmade greeting cards since I was a child and it's always been a source of pleasure. Cards can be versatile and quick; either allowing for the exploration of a single theme or for an ever-changing evolution of ideas. Some of my favorite greeting cards were made by Margret & H.A. Rey, the creators of Curious George. I recently saw they're exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco.

Most of my cards were made with found supplies, including old magazines, books and sheet music, in addition to gauche, pen and ink, and water color.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sharp: Taking time to think

While planning this birthday present, I read more than I ever thought I would about straight razors and straight razor culture. I discovered loyalist blogs, dedicated discussion forums, and in-depth newspaper articles. What struck me the most was a forum post about the masculine ritual that shaving used to be.

Because shaving with a straight razor, the post pointed out, takes more time and care than shaving with one of it's modern, throw-away cousins, it allows the shaver time slow down, recharge and meditate. This, to me, highlights a lot of what has been lost in the modern "time is money" culture we've enslaved ourselves in today.

Not to mention all the waste created by the self-defeating drive to be continuously faster and more efficient than you were yesterday. The fact that the same straight razors used by our grandparents, with a little oil and a good stropping, still make for a silkysmooth shave attests to the their impressive shelf life, and the way we used to make things. Why does everything today have to be über-disposable? Oh yeah, to keep you buying more. Bollocks.

This razor is a Barber's Pet 4/8, refurbished vintage straight razor from Shamrock Shaving, originally made in Germany. The shave brush is made from badger hair, as in the old tradition, and was also purchased online. The aftershave and shaving soap were found at Rainbow Grocery.

The booklet was written by hand and painted with water colors, then sewn at the seam using different colored threads. The box is a re-used cell phone container, and the tissue paper was repurposed from an old Christmas present.

Thank you Robbie for the inspiration.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Let's make it a HAPPY Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, friends!

Ok, so I know it's easy to feel like we're all going to hell in a water-logged hand basket, and the recent apocalyptic ash-vomiting a la Eyjafjallajökull isn't helping matters (though surprisingly, it's not actually making them that much worse*). But don't stop raging against the dying of the light! There's still SO MUCH we can all do to save the only home we'll ever have. Just turn off the apathy, turn down the sarcasm, learn some new skills and get crafty (in all senses of the word)!

Here's what you can do for yo mama today (and every day):
  • Have a rice & bean burrito: It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. You will also also save some trees. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed. Not to mention all the statistics about methane. Who wants our species to perish because of cow burps and farts? How uncivilized!
  • Revisit the drinking fountain of your youth: Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Scary! Also, the EPA's standards for tap water are more stringent than the FDA's standards for bottled water. So don't buy that crap!
  • Stick your groceries down your pants, or at least put them in your backpack. Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil, waterways, fish and humans. At the very least, learn where you can go to recycle your bags.
  • Recycle your tricycle: Most of us are lucky to have recycling and composting programs. In San Francisco, we're particularly lucky to have mandatory recycling & composting! It's easy, just find out what you can recycle and compost where you live! There's always a way.
  • Tell the corporations to stick it up theirs! At least 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail, and 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce the paper. Add yourself to the national do not mail list, cancel your paper bills, and learn other tricks.
  • Give the Gov a gob of your mind! The United States alone consumes 20.8 Million barrels of oil a day. That's just flat out dirty! Now be a good citizen (if you are one) and sign some petitions! And while you're at it, sign the climate declaration, too.
  • Learn some new skills, like knife sharpening, sewing, xeriscaping, or making your own kefir from local, organic milk! Every little bit helps.This site is amazing! For serious!
  • And lastly, honor your other mother with a homemade gift this Mother's day, instead of giving in to all the consumerist cow crap. Mother's day is May 9th.
And in case you're still hungry for knowledge: This is the best, most comprehensive (and sometimes surprising) green guide I've found so far. Like, did you know that if 10% of U.S. households switched to a paperboard spindled cotton swab brand (instead of plastic spindles), the petroleum energy saved per year would be equivalent to over 150,000 gallons of gasoline??

I love you all, and I love our home. Don't you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Slow down and Look!

Much to my chagrin, we always took the long route. "We can see the ocean that way" my mother would say. This was no consolation to me. Even as a teeny-bopper, I was always in a hurry. I had no time for beautiful views. Instead I would scan the radio stations, fueling my own agitation by changing channels every 30 seconds and grumbling about the demise of worthwhile pop music. Every once in a while, however, I would find a gem, and leave the tuner alone for an astonishing 3 minutes and 35 seconds. It was then, I imagine, my mother could breathe a sigh of relief (even if the song happened to be Nirvana's Love Buzz or something equally unnerving) and enjoy the expansive calm of the blue Pacific.

My mom now lives in South Dakota, where she grew up, and misses the ocean like a fish out of water. For Christmas this year I decided to make her something that might remind her of those peaceful drives along Pacific Coast Highway.

Most of what you see inside the terrarium was pillaged from various locations, including Ocean Beach, Mount Tamalpais and Gualala. The tiny sand dollar and star fish along with the glass bubble come from Paxton Gate, while the blue stones were purchased at 6th Avenue Aquarium in the Richmond. Yes, I'm on a terrarium kick, and yes, a nature-themed shadow box is next!

Working with my hands relaxes me. So does the ocean. Thanks for reminding me, mom!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Skeleton Key to my Heart

I'm often asked what the key I wear around my neck belongs to. Honestly, I really wish I knew. If I could uncover the stories behind all of these keys, I can only just imagine how it might make for a fantastic adventure novel.

As it is, all I can say is that I found these relics at a lower-Haight garage sale. Actually, just about all of the materials for these necklaces were rummaged from various garage sales; including the chains, ribbons and buttons.

They were inspired by necklaces I saw at a crafts fair hosted by Thee Parkside sometime last year. I made them for three different, very special lady friends (one of whom is my 19-year-old sister) as birthday presents.

I also made one for myself. Sorta like a friendship bracelet, I suppose. Somehow we're all connected, though I wouldn't say it's through jewelry...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Compact disks are useful after all

Compact disks may be going the way of cassettes, but that just means they're getting cooler, right? Or at least, for all uses besides the cataloging of music. I mean, maybe girls dressed in garish flower-print, combat boots and leather jackets will start making necklaces out of them. They are a symbol of the 90s, after all...

Photo courtesy of Phillip Maisel

But all of that aside! This creation was inspired by a video exhibit at the Contemporary Art Museum in Chicago. Really, what could be more magical (and surprisingly harmonious) than a disco ball in the forest? Especially if it's made out of recycled CDs! We had to try it out.

Created by Ropka and myself, this is a Styrofoam craft ball (from Pearl) covered in cut-up pieces of old CDs. If you dip them in hot water first, they're a lot easier to chop. Also, use hot glue!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When you ask for homemade, you get homemade

Last year my mom lamented the fact that I never make her anything. As I child, I used to make her gifts all the time, but somehow I could always feel her critical eye examining my creations in search of flaws. So I stopped.

In any case, I decided to give it another try.

This necklace was inspired by one I saw at Blue Bird on Pierce St. It is composed of braided silk, beads, a button and thread.

Living in the ocean

Sometimes San Francisco doesn't feel like California at all. Sometimes it doesn't even feel like you're on land. As Rob likes to point out: "It's like we're living in the ocean."

I made this mobile for Rob - as a birthday present. I think it adds an extra dimension to the fog.

Some of the yarn came from Goodwill, some from Scrap, and the rest was purchased at Cliff's Variety on Castro. The squid and jellyfish were patterns of my own making, while the octopus and sea vegetable were taken from Wunderkammer patterns found at the Curiosity Shoppe.

I collected the branches in the woods of Rogue River, Oregon (in my sister's backyard) and sanded them by hand. The crochet needles were given to me by my dear, lovely Grandmother, who likes to talk about the weather.