Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DIY Chicken-Wire Photo Frame

My life and personality are brimming with repurpose inspiration. Two-thirds of my wardrobe is second-hand, handmade or made from something other than its original intention. I use flower petals in recipes, jars for drinking water, coffee cups for wine and silverware for wind chimes. The bottom halves of sweaters becomes skirts, their sleeves legwarmers. The mis-tinted paint section is a thrill to check out every once in a while. Stools are shelves. White twinkle lights fill our fireplace. Discarded photos I find in thrift stores become post cards. The part of me that clings to nostalgia and simplicity is responsible. It somehow feels healing, cathartic even, to make something new out of something that was going to be discarded. It feels less wasteful and there's a sense of pride in it too, I suppose.

When our Year of Transition commenced in 2011, I purged quite a bit of things I had been hanging onto, things I was sure that I would repurpose somewhere, somehow. I got rid of canvases, bolts of cloth, broken china, bits of metal, costume jewelry, vintage photos of people I never knew... it was slightly heart-wrenching actually. However, I did hang onto a few things -- one of which was an old gaudy, gold frame. I felt attached to it enough to lug it from Nebraska to Montana, back to Nebraska. 

About four months ago, I visited an amazing booth at our local craft fair completely centered around repurpose inspiration. For the life of me, I can't remember the booth's name, but the gal running it had turned aged books into unique flower-like wreaths (which I bought three of), old frames into chalkboards and vintage elementary flash cards into poetry. German glass glitter flashed from the backs of clothespins and old photographs clung to the wire of large photo frames backed by chicken wire. Basically, I was in love.

I kept eyeballing the frames she'd built, but as much as I loved them, I couldn't quite bring myself to buy one. I kept thinking about that gold frame I'd been saving. So, months later, I finally put it to good use. So here you have it, folks -- your (easy?) tutorial on how to make one yourself just like I did. I got the chicken wire from my dad, pilfered some pliers from Mr. Husband's tool stash and got a quick lesson on how to load, clear and oil a battery-powered staple gun. (Much to my relief, I learned it does not send a staple flying across the room when you randomly pull the trigger, like Kevin on "Home Alone 2" lead me to believe at the age of 10.)

I got this frame from the public library years ago in a collection clean-out sale. I considered spray-painting it a cream color, but loved the gold way too much so I left it alone.

I left this on the back. It was the library's tag on it. Believe it or not, you used to be able to check out artwork and sculptures from the library.


YOUR SUPPLIES: 




STEP 1: Procure a frame. It can be from anywhere -- an old window frame, the library, something you inherited with a hideous macro-may weaving inside it. Heck, it can even be from Hobby Lobby if you find a good sale! 



STEP 2: Flip the frame over and tightly stretch chicken wire across the back. It will want to roll up, so you might need a helper or a weight to keep it down and flattened as you get ready to staple. 



STEP 3: Start stapling! I used the cordless-powdered stapler because it was easier without me having to utilize a whole lot of extra downward force. However, an ordinary staple gun will still get the job done. Staple the chicken wire down every 2" to 3" or wherever it seems it needs extra reinforcement. Stay clear of the edges of the frame. 



STEP 4: Cut off excess wire, making sure it doesn't stick out on the outside edges of the frame. If it wants to scratch or cut into your walls (we have plaster walls, so it wasn't really an issue), feel free to duct-tape the "frayed" wire edges down to the back of the frame to protect drywall. I used cutters integrated into a pair of needlenose pliers. Do not attempt this with ordinary scissors. It will ruin your scissors. Yes, I've tried cutting wire with scissors in other projects.




And that's it! All done.





I thought my sister would be proud to have hers displayed, too. She bought an old window frame at The French Door Antique Mall, and we transformed it into a wire photo frame over her Christmas break.




Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'm here! I'm here! Checking in, just in time for the New Year

Sorry for the silence for the last six months. Life has been... busy! New job, adjusting to a commute, being a sometimes-single parent, spending time with Mr. Husband, working on our house and sleeping occasionally have taken it out of me. Turns out that trying to do it all is quite time-consuming. Now add "teeny-tiny business owner" in there and I think I might be down to just one hour of sleep a night.

After the popularity of the felt food I made my son last year grew and grew and after completing a "test" run with some new sets this recent Christmas season, I finally decided to open an Etsy shop. There are not as many offerings on there as I've recently been selling, but I figured I have to start somewhere!

I have always enjoyed crafting and creating, but haven't done much with it in the last few years (enter Mr. Baby in 2010), so it's felt good to get back into it now that he's getting older and can actually enjoy what I'm making him. I've also always done things a little differently than everyone else, and offering my son (and others kids in my life) toys outside the mainstream options is fun. This is all part of me sort of reminding myself of who I was before baby... and melding it with who I am now as a mother. I'm learning it's a constant process and we don't always realize it's happening. So here's to the New Year and to making the best of who we are now and who we're going to become. Negativity is a waste of time and energy!! Smiley faces as often as possible!

So please check me out at 
Finnegan's Bakery on Etsy. I promise to update you and the shop more often, with more sets as I design them. For now, here's a preview of some of the "tasty" offerings we're mixing up over here:


 








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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Homemade [felt] Pizza Tutorial


The popularity of Finn's felt food with little friends and that of my post on making it got me craving some handmade pizza today... well, handmade felt pizza, that is. I looked around online at other tutorials, but just decided to wing it -- and why not create my own tutorial in the process? Finn was napping. Daddy-O's in Mexico racing in the Baja 500 on a dirt bike. This all means prime time alone for some sewing, and I have lots of leftover felt from making all those felt cookies, French toast slices and squirts of ketchup back in December. I managed to get one slice sewn in about two hours, but keep in mind that I was slowing down progress to take pictures, to go to the next episode of 30 Rock on Netflix and, of course, consume more caffeine. So, it shouldn't take you nearly that long per slice, and as you sew more you will get into a rhythm that will make it go a little faster with each slice you create. I also sewed the "toppings" to the pizza because we don't already have enough small felt food items and other tiny toys littered around our house just waiting to be stepped on. You can certainly make these pieces individually so your kiddo can "make" his/her own pizza.

Felt sewing is so incredibly easy, and is an affordable way to get into handmade crafts and/or toys without having much sewing knowledge to begin with. Plus, felt is so forgiving! If you aren't happy with the way your stitches are looking, simply (and gently) snip them out and start over. This tutorial uses a blanket stitch, and if you are unfamiliar with this type of [simple] stitch, click here for a quick video on it.

This afternoon's tutorial was brought to you by 12 episodes of 30 Rock, two Diet Pepsis and some beautiful spring light coming in the windows near my sewing perch.

P.S. I just noticed that I accidentally left off embroidery needles from the supplies list below. While you can certainly use an ordinary sewing needle for this, embroidery needles are just a little easier to hang on to (and they don't cost any more than $5 for a three-pack.)

Enjoy!

















Next on the list? Felt cake! Stay tuned!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Too Many Pots on the Stove

Okay, so there have been a lot of changes going on around here. And I mean A LOT. Hence, the unfortunate absence on my part. I left and dealt with a new [temporary] home, new people, new streets, unemployment, a new type of alone... I came back to a new house, people I missed, kind-of-new streets, a new job, and again, a different type of alone. I have come to truly appreciate a characteristic in myself that I always knew was there: adaptability.

I went from a city of over 100,000 to a township of maybe 300. It's not like I grew up in the city or anything. But I was there just long enough to appreciate the amenities a city has to offer: organic grocery stores with local foods and that trademark smell that organic grocery stores always seem to carry, a kick-ass three-story public library, cultural variety and anonymity. But it still lacked the things I came to realize I needed: familiar faces, my sisters, family, a reliable babysitter and a network.

We lived apart from my husband for over 45 days. And then in February we moved into our new-old house in said little community, and it has been a long three months. Since moving in, we've basically been living on the second  floor only as walls have been put up and painted, bathrooms were updated and "stuff" was shifted from room to room to room. Mr. Dude has recently been painstakingly sanding the main level's original 1920 wood floors, and we've been holing up in the second floor like a bunch of squatters. But now, I feel like a fog has lifted: the floors are cured, we have a living room again, we can breathe deeply and start to go finally through boxes that have been taped up for over three years. My laptop is back up and running, summer is almost here and life is feeling good.

Being in a small town, though, is showing me its wonders. The grocery store is -- in one word -- adorable. It used to be a dry goods store, and still has what appear to be the original oiled, wooden floors and tin ceilings, and is only four blocks away. Someone has taken over an empty lot and filled it with irises. There are old, giant trees on nearly every single block. And it's really only 20 minutes from Sidney.


I don't know who is responsible for all this, but it's just lovely.



I want to sit here but don't know who owns this place...


These are the street markers... kind of easy to miss at first.


A glimpse of home.

Now that our possessions are slowly eeking their way to where they're supposed to be in our home, I am also going to soon have some creative space back for sewing, cooking, writing, milling about and general after-work wine-drinking/creative thinking. And I hope and pray with fingers crossed that will have me back on here more frequently, writing and sharing.

And to top it all off, this is yet another pot on the stove we're dealing with (pun intended):


Friday, March 23, 2012

Garden War

My husband and I have been together for nearly ten years, and even from that very first summer that we were married, I have been faithfully and notoriously... killing his garden. It wasn't intentional. I didn't mean to; I didn't know what I was doing... was it a black-out moment? Every year he lovingly turned and prepared the soil, planted seeds that he daydreamed out loud about us making 30 jars (...wha?...) of homemade ketchup together, and then he would leave for the week for work... leaving me in charge of THE GARDEN.

 It was cute enough in the beginning. All those little sprouts poking up, all the little rows that Rob had tenderly weeded and fluffed and watered. I even had some cute lil' rubber boots to wear out there. I daydreamed too about sharing "our" produce with neighbors, bragging about how I had just finished "tending" it and stuff. 

But then it got needy. It wanted a drink when it was hot. It wanted manicured and talked to and paid attention to. But I had, you know, STUFF to do. Like sleeping in during those cool wee hours of the morning when it's supposed to be the best time for weeding. Like playing with my sister and experimenting on how to make Bloody Mary martinis and forgetting that today was supposed to be a thousand-million degrees... which I was going to definitely stay inside for. And then the moment would come when Rob would call in mid-week to say hi and, of course, ask how the garden was:


"Hi love! So, how's my corn? How tall is it getting? Did you water it?"


"Hi!... Whoa, yeah. That garden is... [Me running to the window in a panic. Where did we plant that thing again?!] doing so good. Yeah, it rained for like 15 minutes this morning. So. It's looking. Nice."




And he eventually learned that meant it had received zero water from me. Rob would come home to a wilted, tired, sad looking mess of vegetation that was barely alive. And I felt bad, honestly. It's not like I am anti-garden. Or even anti-dirty or anti-outsideness. For those of you who know me well, I am all about fresh food and doing things the old-fashioned way (Hell, we brew our coffee in a French press!). But for some reason I have yet to nail down, I just couldn't bring myself to make time for all those gardens...

... until this year. After having a joking but cynical argument regarding my ability to tend the earth, Rob and I have decided to have a garden war. The rules are:

  • We each have a raised bed garden of the same size in the backyard (Which he's building. Are you serious? I can't build that kind of stuff.)
  • We will each grow a variety of potato, tomato, bean and corn. They do not have to be the same!
  • Any additional space after that can be used to grow whatever we want.
  • Each garden must be organically grown and tended!
  • We cannot help each other out! That means he can't ask me to water his garden when he's at the lake, and it does mean I can hire the little neighbor girls to water my garden when I am at my sister's... drinking martinis. Just kidding! Only a little...
  • Once harvesting begins in mid to late summer, we have to weigh what we harvest and keep a running tally.
  • We will have a Garden War Feast at the end of the summer at which every dish will have something from the gardens in it, and our friends and family and local hired garden-waterers and weeders can come and be the true judges of the first annual Garden War winner.
I'll keep you all posted because I have some sewing projects in mind to go hand-in-hand with this. Let me know if you have any gardening advice -- I'll take all I can get!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Berwin Jr. Executive Typewriter

One great thing about the community I live in, is that thrift here is very affordable, cheap even. I've never been a big decorator (although I am looking forward to changing that!) and I've been getting better about not bringing home things I don't need due to the years of living in a small house. However, while out killing some time last week, I popped into a new store in Sidney called Rust N Roses, an antique/vintage shop. And mixed in with everything, I came across this little beauty. It's a children's toy typewriter from the 1960s, as seen here in an old catalog:

Photo Props: Classic Toy Museum


And here's how it probably looked when a 1960s version of little Me got it in the mail:

Photo props: UPPERCASE Journal


And here is mine! The thing that excites me the most is that this is almost the same color as the typewriter I actually use. And I only paid 15 bucks for it! This won't get played with, but will be put somewhere great in our house. If you click on any picture, it will open a small slideshow of all the pictures:

Ta-Da! When you push the "space bar" on the bottom, it pushes the dial at the top away from you to type the desired letter onto paper.

A ribbon was held on the top between two leaf pin thingies, but is gone now. It looks more like a robin's egg blue here, but is actually more turquoise. 



Spin this dial to the letter you'd like to type, then push the space bar. Very labor intensive if you were serious about typing much of anything!

Someone must have done a lot of work on this little beauty because you can see wear marks on the "keys."


The keys don't actually work but are just raised up from the face.