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Archive for March, 2011

Fire in the Hole!

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
By Twistie

Photo by Greg Crane

Do you know about the Crucible?

No, I’m not talking about Arthur Miller’s classic play about the Salem witch trials written in response to the McCarthy hearings. I’m talking about the school of fire arts in Oakland, California.

What are the ‘fire arts?’ Well, any craft or performance style that requires fire of some sort to make it work. At the Crucible you will find classes on such diverse topics as: ceramics, glass work, blacksmithing, kinetics and electronics, welding, and fire performance, among others.

Whether you want to learn about making neon sculptures, enameled jewelry, or bicycle repair, this is the place in the Bay Area to go. Oh! And look at that! They’re having an open house on April 2 from noon to four pm.

If you happen to be in the area, drop on by and check out the range of classes. Or, you know, just marvel at the fire eaters  and fire dancers.

Party Time!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
By Twistie

Photo by Rob Garland

Spring is here, and summer is just around the corner. Outdoor parties are on the rise. Weddings are being plotted… er… planned. And everyone knows you’re crafty.

If you’re the one throwing the shindig, that means people will expect you to create something gorgeous to decorate. If someone you know is getting married, having a baby shower, or hoping to throw the ultimate neighborhood barbeque, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked (or will offer as your contribution) to create some decorative awesomeness for the occasion.

Well, I’ve got a few ideas that will make your decorations the talk of the party.

For instance, that centerpiece shown above would be pretty simple to replicate. Just pick your vase, put in a piece of floral foam just a little smaller than the inside of the vase, slide in slices of citrus fruits: limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit… whatever you like, arrange a few dramatic flowers in the foam, and add water. How easy is that?


Pretty in Paper

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
By Twistie

The painting in the picture above is by Van Dyck. The costumes in the foreground are by Isabelle de Borchgrave. She has done a meticulous recreation of the outfits in the painting… and she’s done them out of paper.

de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but her passion is for textiles. Working with a group of talented costume historians and fashion designers, she has made a line of paper costumes based on famous paintings and designer masterpieces ranging from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. And if you have the good fortune to be in the San Francisco area, you can go see them at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in her show Pulp Fashion.

Tickets are $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for seniors (65+), $11.00 for youths 6 – 17 and college students with ID, and free for kids under 6.

But hurry! The show will be over on June 5!

Quickie Question: Buyer’s Remorse or Glorious Goof?

Monday, March 28th, 2011
By Twistie

It’s happened to all of us. The description of that book sounds perfect, but it turns out to have no new techniques and maybe one pattern worth using. The color sounds delicious, but when it arrives it’s the Platonic definition of hideous. Everyone around you assures you that drill bit, loom, pottery wheel, or soldering iron is the answer to a maiden’s prayer… except that when you get it in your hot little hands, it turns out not to answer your prayers.

On the other hand, something else has happened to most of us.

We’ve grabbed the wrong skein of yarn, picked the random crochet hook out of the pile of identical ones, or chosen the pot of dye right next to the one we meant to take… and discovered something wonderful we didn’t expect.

What was your worst case of crafting buyer’s remorse? What was your best craft supplies goof?

The Darling Buds of May… Morris, That Is

Friday, March 25th, 2011
By Twistie

This lady is May Morris, daughter of William Morris and Jane Burden Morris. While her father founded the Arts and Crafts movement and her mother served as a muse to half the Pre-Rapaelite Brotherhood, appearing as such characters as Guinevere and Persephone:

May came along and grew up surrounded by art.

As you can see, there’s a bit of a resemblance from mother to daughter. But May made her name not as a muse, but as an artist in her own right. Her medium? The needle.


Inspiration Gallery: Eggs

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
By Twistie

via All Things Family

Between the horrible weather and the fact that today marks precisely one month to Easter, I have decided we need to talk about decorating eggs. Why? Because they’re festive and fun. What more impetus do we need?

While dyed or painted eggs are most commonly associated with Easter, there’s no reason we can’t play with them the rest of the year. Eggs are nicely shaped little canvases. And if you’re uncomfortable working with real ones, it’s easy to find faux eggs to decorate.


Stormy Weather

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
By Twistie

This is the town I grew up in five days ago after a small tornado touched down.

The roof was ripped off a commercial building, and some power lines downed, but luckily there were no injuries to people. Just damage to property. But a tornado in California? Let alone two inside of a week (because one touched down just outside Sacramento a couple days later, again leaving only property damage behind, thank goodness)!

Then there was that water spout in San Francisco, mudslides in the Santa Cruz mountains, and right this minute there’s almost enough water to go canoeing in my back yard. Okay, I exaggerate on that last one… but not as much as I’d like to think. That slightly depressed area back there has actually turned into a tiny lake.

And so my friends, my heart and brain long for tales of warmth, sunshine, acts of happy creation. After all, this is a time of year when I typically start bringing my pillows out on my porch and weaving lace as the neighbors walk by with their children.

As it stands I’m starting to develop cabin fever, but at the same time I’m dreading heading out to feed the next-door neighbors’ cat because I’m going to become wildly bedraggled and cold walking the few feet to their front door.

So tell me about your spring and summer crafting memories. If they happen out of doors, so much the better. Alternately, tell me how you used crafts to get you through a stormy period in your life, whether physical or emotional.

Support a Crafter, Help Japan

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
By Twistie

Sometimes you can do good by buying something fun, practical, pretty, or all of the above. I love it when that happens.

Etsy artist Eat Green is making these fun, funky belt pockets by upcycling guayaberas (aka Mexican wedding shirts) and donating 20% of the sales to disaster relief in Japan. And at the price of $25.00, they’re quite affordable, too.

Not into belt pockets? That’s okay. Eat Green is also donating portions of sales on a variety of baskets, pockets, and other upcycled goods.

Oh, and if you like these pretty journals:

They run just $9.00 each and all proceeds go to Japan relief.

Beautify your life, support a fellow crafter, be kind to Mother Earth, and help people who have been through unimaginable horrors all at once. That’s what I call a good act.

Quickie Question: What’s Your Crafting Soundtrack?

Monday, March 21st, 2011
By Twistie

Daphne Oram photo via Boing Boing where you can read about her.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy listening to music while I craft… when I’m  not watching TV while crafting. Yeah, I watch too much TV.

But when I turn the Tv off, I still want to toss my bobbins. That’s when I put on some music. And when I do that, I have a strong tendency to haul out my classical collection. Mozart, Rossini, Verdi… all my favorite operatic composers. Mozart and Rossini are probably my faves for lacing to, though. It’s that precision that does it for me. It really seems to go well with lace.

Sometimes, though, I turn to my collection of souped-up folk music of the British Isles. Yeah, add an electric guitar to an old Scottish folk song and I’m just mush in your hands. So out comes the Steeleye Span, Silly Wizard, and Jethro Tull’s most folk-influenced period. Songs From the Wood and Heavy Horses are in constant rotation while I lace.

So what about you? Do you listen to music while you do your chosen craft? Or does your equipment drown it out? Do you prefer the sounds of nature or (to quote Paul Simon) the sounds of silence while you work?

What’s your soundtrack?

Planting and Dying

Friday, March 18th, 2011
By Twistie

Ah, marigolds. So pretty. Pretty easy to grow, too. But they have another advantage for crafters: they make very pretty dyes. Using the flowers, you can make a range of yellows.

If you have a garden and a kitchen, you can create your own dyes from natural products to prettify your hand spun threads and yarns or your hand woven fabrics. And marigolds are far from the only plants you can use to dye things pretty colors.

Snapdragons and lilacs can be used to make green dyes. Virginia creeper and weeping willow will produce shades in the pink to salmon range. Choose indigo or woad for blues. Madder and rose hips can make red dyes, as can the lowly dandelion. Hey! That means even those of us who have terminal black thumb (the polar opposite of green thumb) can still make dyes from our own gardens!

Want to know more? You might start with these two articles I found:

This one is from Pioneer Thinking,

And this one is from Sheepy Hollow Farm Life.

Now… I wonder if I could get a couple daffodils to grow without keeling over too quickly.

Or maybe I’ll just play with the bumper crop of dandelions I already have!

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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