Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Letting Yourself Be Yourself: A Holiday Lesson

 I thought I would repost this from a couple of years back, given that its the season of resolutions and all---the lessons are still valid and I am still learning them.

The holidays and thinking about resolutions reminded me of something that happened several Christmases ago, and what I learned from it.

Ugly Doll
Perhaps you have seen those "Ugly" dolls that are all the rage with children? Perhaps you know some kids who have some? Well, several years ago, just before they were starting to get really popular, I had a family Christmas to go to and nephew to get a present for. I didn't have hardly any money but I did have (and still do, by golly!) a bunch of fabric scraps and some imagination. The Ugly Dolls inspired me and so I thought, hey, I can make a monster doll for my nephew! It'll be great and no one else will have one like it!

And so I made one with the freehand newspaper pattern I made that you see at the top. I used plaid fabric and I gave the monster a happy, non-threatening smile while still retaining its "monster" qualities. It was so darn cute I wanted to keep it for myself.

Well, I should have.

Christmas day came. My nephew opened the monster. He was noncommital about it---after all, he had a towering stack of plastic toys made in China to get to!! And I knew from the start that I couldn't compete with that.

What I didn't expect was the reaction from his mother. She was horrified and she didn't keep it a secret. Later, when she thought I wasn't looking, I saw her pick it up off the pile of presents, gave it a disgusted look and hurled it into the corner. Whether she was upset because it was a quirky monster or because it was hand made, or both, I'll never know.

I was just sick at heart. I lay all night in the guest bedroom thinking about whether or not I should creep out and steal the monster back. That sweet little monster is probably moldering in a landfill right now.

I let that one incident stifle me for about a year. I didn't sew at all or make any more monsters.

Then one day I was looking at a huge vintage 70s tie I had and something about it made me think, hey, I could fold it this way and make an owl!

And I did. I put some up in my Etsy store and I have sold all the ones that I have listed. (and one of my resolutions for the new year is: make time to make more!)  Updated note: I have a bunch of these ready to list in my new shop, Moss and Root!

Somewhere during this time I also came across this book:

Fitting In Is Overrated

I'm not all that big on the self-help stuff but this book made an impression on me. The section on family is especially good.

I guess what I am trying to tell you is:  sometimes people aren't going to appreciate your vision, sometimes they might even be mean to you, BUT GO ON ANYWAYS. Because it is your life and your vision. Don't let people with pre-conceived ideas and a lack of imagination dictate your progress. Don't let them stifle you. Because then it is really YOU stifling you. I let a whole year of sewing creativity be wasted because an unimaginative and unkind person didn't approve of my vision and I let that affect me.

Don't let that happen to you, dear viewers. Let yourself be yourself.

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Cheaty Buche de Noel!

A couple of posts back I talked about how I am obsessed with buche de noel and how this was the year I would make one.

And here it is! Now, I will let you in on a secret---I "made" it by buying a pre-made rolled cake from the grocery store and pre-made frosting. Then I stuck a bunch of plastic decorations on it. The mushrooms aren't even meringue. They're paperclay. *for shame*

 But you see, I just had to have a log cake with gnomes on it this year. And time, as it does around the holidays,  ran out on me.  This cake is a carrot cake and the frosting is cream cheese. The frosting was white, and to make it a brown color I added a bit of cocoa powder.

Now I am gonna be honest with you. Visually, the whole thing turned out the way I wanted it to. Taste-wise, however, not so good! Standard grocery store (I will not name names) cake and frosting in a can is simply just not very good. They use so much weirdly processed sugar that just a thin slice of something like this can cause a stomach ache. So, next year I will get on it earlier and make something that is actually edible, ha ha!!

Hope your holidays have been going well----here comes the New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Birthday of the Sun

Happy Solstice!! I had to rush like crazy to get these photos done and up today----shortest day of the year, and darkening already by 3:30!!

I always bust out this garland on the winter solstice---a reproduction of an old early 1800s American  sun design.
Stay warm, and may the good cheer flow, the sun is on its way back :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fairy Tale Tea Cup

One of the DIYs I keep seeing on Pinterest that I have been meaning to get around to is the Sharpie mug project. Basically, you draw on a mug with a Sharpie pen and bake the cup in an oven at 350 degrees, for half an hour, to set the design. There are various opinions on whether this method "works" or not. Obviously it won't be as good as firing a glazed design into a cup in a high temp kiln. But how many of us have kilns? I don't---so Sharpies it is!

My experience is this---if you don't put the item in the dishwasher, and you don't apply abrasives to the design (don't rub it with a scrubber sponge, for example) it will last for quite awhile. I first did a few standard mugs---then I realized that vintage tea cups would make a good medium. Especially for a design that says "Fairy Tale", no?

I used black and gold Sharpies and baked the tea cup in an old toaster oven I keep just for crafts. I would recommend NOT drawing in the area that you are going to put your mouth on---in other words, don't decorate the rim. This tea cup already had a classic vintage gold rim.

I noticed recently that Mod Podge has a "dishwasher safe" glaze that can be used on mugs. Perhaps a coating of that over the design would prolong its life. Something to try, eventually.

All in all, a satisfying project that can really be done for pennies, if you get your mugs or tea cups at the thrift store. I bought this particular cup/saucer at the Salvation Army for .99.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Buche de Noel


I have been obsessed with the holiday cake "Buche de Noel".  The woodland style is right in my aesthetic zone, and I have been planning to make one for years. This may just be the year I pull it off. Have you ever made one?