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Inspiration Gallery: Gifts From Your Kitchen

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
By Twistie

With the holidays coming up quickly and belts everywhere tightening, it can be hard to come up with great gifts for friends and family… that is, unless you’re a fellow crafty person! Just a few basic ingredients and a little time and effort will produce delicious gifts nearly everyone on your list will love.

For instance, see that elegant cruet of rosemary infused olive oil? If you have a rosemary bush nearby, bottles with firm stoppers or caps, a stove and some olive oil, you’ve got a great gift for the foodie on your list. Just follow the simple instructions at Lulu’s Bites and delight your friends!

Oh, and don’t forget that you can use the same method with a lot of other herbs, too. Thyme? Or maybe even some chili peppers? And citrus zest is a winner, too.

But how about some things that are ready to eat rather than an ingredient for future cooking?


Inspiration Gallery: Topiary

Friday, July 13th, 2012
By Twistie

(Image via David Sobek’s Homepage… but I wish I knew who had made this fabulous lawn tableau)

I remember the first time I saw a topiary. It was a Disneyland when I was knee-high to a very short grasshopper. I was intrigued. I wanted to know how someone shaped trees and bushes into images from fairy tales. I haven’t been to Disneyland in many and many a yonk, and it wouldn’t surprise me greatly if I never went back at this point. I’m not much of a Disney kind of gal. But the topiaries… I love a good topiary. They make me wish I was better with plants.

I would absolutely make the pilgrimage to visit Liverpool’s South Parkway rail station to see this topiary of the Fab Four… and so would my Beatle’s loving husband!

Of course topiary, like painting, doesn’t have to be representational. The Japanese school of karikomi runs to more abstract forms.

But my favorite topiary story ever is that of Pearl Friyar. When Mr. Friyar bought his house in Bishopville, South Carolina, many of the neighbors complained that an African American wouldn’t take care of his garden. So Friyar decided to take up that challenge. He decided to make the best, most elaborate garden in the town… and he did. He’d never done topiary before.

Here’s what he has wrought:

(Image via Studio G)

And that’s just a tiny fraction of his amazing work.

Plants are gloriously malleable things. I think it’s great when someone coaxes one into an unexpected shape and makes us see it in a whole new light.

INspiration Gallery: Hardanger Emboridery

Friday, May 25th, 2012
By Twistie

(Image via Lynxlace, where you can find many more attractive images and instructions)

The first time I heard about Hardanger embroidery, it was described to me as ‘Hardanger lace.’ I can certainly see why people wanted to call it lace, with those pretty openwork areas. Still, it is technically a form of embroidery rather than a true lace… but if you call it lace, I won’t report you to the Crafts Correctness Police. I tossed their number yonks ago.

So what is Hardanger embroidery and how is it done? Basically you take a piece of 22 count evenweave fabric like this, available for just $2.99 in white or ivory from Roberts Crafts:


Inspiration Gallery: I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
By Twistie

Years ago, I knew a woman who had an intriguing method of making up her face. She couldn’t stand buying tubes of this and jars of that… but she had two small children who loved painting with watercolors. One day, she looked over the ingredients in a pan of children’s non-toxic watercolor paints, found there was nothing in there she wouldn’t put on her face, and decided that would be her make up from then on. I actually tried out her method. I liked it for eyeshadow. The colors were pretty and lasted quite well.

I wasn’t as wild about it for blusher. I found I couldn’t control it as well as a powder. As for my lips… yeah, watercolors that come off with water didn’t really work out well for me.

Still, it was my first introduction to alternative cosmetics, and it was pretty cool. I got curious about what other alternatives out there might work. After all, I reasoned, if Elizabeth I could make her own make up (an egg white based product her last stepmother, Catharine Parr, is reputed to have taught her to make), why couldn’t I?

As it turns out, there are a lot of women out there making their own make up and other beauty products. I’ve waded through a few of their websites to recommend some you may find useful.


Inspiration Gallery: Presents With Presence

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
By Twistie

It’s that time of the year. We’re all going to be giving as well as receiving gifts for one holiday or another, and hey! some people have birthdays and weddings and so on at this time of year, too. So gift giving is sort of an thing on most of our minds right now.

I have to admit, I’m rarely as creative about presentation as I am about the actual gifts. I figure if I get paper and a ribbon on it, I’m doing pretty good. But then I see ideas that make me wonder if I couldn’t do better. You know, things like the adorable packaging above crafted from tissue paper, silhouettes from a clip-art book, and a couple stickers. This and eleven other simple but effective and fun ideas can be found in this slide show at Country Living. I may well be adapting a couple of these concepts to my own fell purposes!


Inspiration Gallery: Steampunk

Friday, November 11th, 2011
By Twistie

Steampunk is one of those styles that just seems born to inspire crafters. After all, a  big part of the aesthetic is interesting juxtapositions of materials. Gears, rivets, leather, and Victoriana  meld into a fun and funky style that often includes goggles. Who couldn’t love something that calls for goggles not as protective safety gear, but as an artistic statement? Okay, I know somebody out there can’t, but I have something of a fondness, and I know I’m far from alone.

So let’s take a look at what can be done with a few basic crafting tools and materials, a bit of imagination, and another reading of Jules Verne’s novels.

I love this clockwork dragon. It’s made of polymer clay festooned with steampunk gears and such. Just look at how the tail looks like articulated copper! Whether you’re looking for instructions for a craft project, materials to bring your own vision to life, or to purchase a finished product to wear on your Mad Victorian Scientist outfit, CF Originals is a great place to go. That’s where I found this adorable guy. Oh, and if you have an idea you don’t feel up to making yourself, she does commissions, too.  I’m just saying.


Inspiration Gallery: Jack O Lanterns

Thursday, October 13th, 2011
By Twistie

As the witching hour approaches for Halloween, I find my mind meandering into the fun I had as a child carving jack o lanterns… and I wonder what people are up to in the art form. Let’s take a look, shall we?

I’ve seen a lot of amazing pumpkin carvings in my day, but never before have I seen an animated one! Head on over to this thread on Instructables to learn how it’s done.


Inspiration Gallery: Papier Mache

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
By Twistie

Most of us have done a little papier mache in our time. It’s one of those crafts that shows up a lot in elementary school classrooms and summer camp arts and crafts lessons. But have you done any lately? I know I haven’t. But looking at this illustration of Muslim men painting papier mache ornaments over at Wikipedia, I may have been inspired. And so I thought I’d pass the inspiration on to all of you.


Inspiration Gallery: Calligraphy

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
By Twistie

 via more than somewhat

I have a confession to make: I have lousy handwriting.

I’ve always had lousy handwriting. And then being a southpaw, I drag my hand through the ink and just make it worse. It’s a disaster.

Mind you, I don’t have the worst handwriting I’ve ever seen. That distinction goes to a boy I went to high school with. One of our teachers once told him his handwriting looked ‘like the pen threw up on the paper.’ He wrote a three-line comment in my senior yearbook that took me three years of off and on effort to decipher. Last I heard, he was making his living as an Elvis impersonator. Let that be a lesson to you all.



Inspiration Gallery: Glass Painting

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
By Twistie

It’s fun. It’s festive. And I’m kind of in love with the wonky shape of these pretty green bottles. Even the somewhat minimalist, crude sun on the right is making me smile… though I’m more drawn to the Klimt-esque dotted scrolls on the left.

All in all, if I were to begin painting on glass, I imagine this is what my early efforts would most closely resemble. I’m a dab  hand at painting  a wall, but fiddly things like glass bottles? Actual figurative work? Yeah, not so much. Still, even these simple efforts that are nearly as wonky as the bottles themselves have a certain charm to them. I may even try it, using the instructions found here.

But of course there’s so much more than the sun from a small child’s crayon drawing or simple motifs ripped off from famous paintings to do with glass and paint in tandem.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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