12 November 2012

Visual Inspiration For The Week

A few things that will be on my mind this week when looking for inspiration for crafting, creating, thrifting, and enjoying:
 Fashion Inspired Decorations

Porcelain Shoe and Hat Figurines
I love clothing-inspired accessories almost as much as the real thing and I'll be searching antique stores and thrift stores to find more favorites to add to my collection. 
Intriguing Artwork

Brian Dettmer Prehistoric Societies, 2011, Allegheny College Re-ContTEXT: Book as Object
 The piece, Prehistoric Societies was one of the many interesting book inspired exhibits at my schools recent gallery show, Re-ConTEXT: Book as Object.  As an extreme reading junkie and book lover, it not only gave me a nice chance to take a break from studying and enjoy art, but also to re-imagine the way I see books and to think about the transformations an object can make (especially important as a lover of all things upcycled and repurposed!)

Possible Craft Projects  
Beaded Doll Jewelry
A friend of mine received this hand-me down necklace from a co-worker, and I can think of several beadwork projects that I might be inspired to take on after seeing this hand-crafted necklace and wanting one of my own. 
Upcycling and Crafting Combo Ideas   
Repurposed Silverware Art

Flowered Lamps

I often collect old saucers and cups for the sheer prettiness they evoke.  Aside from a few that serve as catch-alls or jewelry holders, most don't get a lot of use.  These pieces, done by local crafters really have my mind turning, thinking of new ways to re-use those pretty old plates that would otherwise end up as unwanted clutters on the thrift store shelf, or mismatched settings that would remain unused. 

16 October 2012

DIY Inspiration: Fall Festivals

One of my favorite things to do is to explore local fall festivals.  I love to bundle up in a snug knit sweater and long scarf and mill around looking at the displays, watching the Autumn leaves as I pass by. 

Although I don't usually buy a lot at the festivals, they are a great place for me to find ideas and inspiration for my own DIY projects.  A few weeks ago, I went to Applefest in Franklin, Pa, and saw a few displays that really have me thinking about craft projects and upcycling projects I can try out this fall. 

Shadow Boxes

One thing I saw was a series of shadow boxes featuring different insects and butterflies, which were odd but quite striking at the same time.    I don't think I'll be making any insect art of my own any time soon, but I really like the idea of bringing the outdoors inside when choosing decorations for fall.

Butterfly Shadow Box
 Glass bottles-turned birdfeeders were another project I saw, and things like these are definitely a favorite of mine. I like these, because they are fairly simple to construct and make use of bottles, which people seem to discard frequently. Glass bottle upcycling projects are quite trendy right now, and they really make for some chic accessories.

 I also really like these cutting boards made from old glass bottles, though a project inspired by this craft would definitely be the most challenging.  For those of us without kilns or other glass cutting tools, finding another use for our glass bottles is probably the best bet.  

Cutting Boards constructed from old glass bottles

There are lots of ways to re-use those bottles that don't include major construction issues, such as turning them into a vase for flowers, a hair band holder, or using them in an art project. But if you're really enticed by the upcycled cutting boards, you can always head out to a fall festival and try your luck at finding a well-crafted one, or head online to purchase one from the shops on Etsy. 

15 October 2012

Chic Chalkboard Wall Hanging You Can Make On The Cheap

In planning dorm room decorations for my senior year at college, I wanted to keep it sparse so that end of the year packing and clean-up would be a breeze.  In my attempts at minimalism, I overlooked the fact that an undecorated dorm room can be quite ugly on the eyes; not at all a good environment for a creative and crafty person like me. 


Not wanting to spend a lot of money and not wanting to create a lot of extra clutter, I decided that my goal would be to create some cheap and easy decor from the things I have in my room already or things found.
Using just paper scraps, old cardboard, chalk and tape, I created a cute Chalkboard-Inspired wall hanging that ads a personal touch to my boring white wall above my desk; a simple project that can be done by anyone looking for a cheap update or to create some decoration in a temporary space.
Here's how you can make your own:

1.  Find a scrap of paper, newspaper, or cheap poster board to create the backing.  I used a square of paper leftover from another project. 

2.  Cut cardboard into  inch wide or two inch wide strips to use for the border of the frame. 
3.  Cut the ends of cardboard strips diagonally so that two strips can connect to form corners. 

4. Tape the cardboard strips to the outer edge of the paper square to frame the square. 

5.  Match the strips together at the corners. 
 6.  Continue placing strips around the edge of the paper until you have created a full frame.


7. Use excess cardboard to cut out small heart shapes, which can be used to decorate the frame. 

8.  Place hearts on corners or anywhere that needs a bit of sprucing up. 


9.  Use chalk to write an inspirational quote, to-do list, or goal board. 


18 September 2012

Easy Eco: Simple Upcycled Projects You Can Do This Week

Most people want to do the earth-friendly thing, but not all have the cash to shell out to buy top-notch eco products or the time to spend finding new ways to use old things.  If you are new to upcycling or are just looking for an easy project, here are a few ways to get started.

Use your old bottles and jars for something new.

The easiest thing to do is to clean out old glass beverage bottles, mason jars, and canisters and use them to store something new.  My favorites are mason jars and Starbucks frappucino bottles, because I have plenty of them lying around and they are super versatile. 

I especially like this milkaholic bottle idea from Half Baked: The Cake blog, which helps you to transform old bottles into adorable milk bottles in a matter of minutes.

Milkaholic - The Cake Blog
Another easy project is making drinking glasses out of old mason jars.  This craft idea seems to be everywhere from DIY blogs to stores.  The cheapest and  probably easiest way to get your own set is to make them yourself. 

Using hot glue or rubber cement, you can glue the bottom of an old jar to a candlestick base and have an almost instant wine glass.

 Another thing you can do is use old scarves or fabric scraps to make upcycled lingerie, throw rugs, or even clothes.
Things like shirts, lingerie, and scarves are easy to make out of old clothes and materials, because they don't require much fabric to create.  I like the idea of this paisley bikini set from Crafting a Green World, because it's fairly simple in construction. 

Crafting a Green World
If you've got a lot of scraps, or don't want the stress of following a particular pattern, you can create an interesting throw rug simply by sewing random pieces together.   
Free People BLDG 25 Blog
Inspired by Free People's BLDG 25 blog, I experimented with my own scraps to make an easy eco project:
My in-progress version of an upcylced throw rug

I really liked the idea of rug composed entirely of blue jean scraps.  I also found that mixing textures and patterns can create a really cool effect when creating upcycled pieces. 

Finally, you can simply cover something old in something new: Whether it's paint, glitter, or upholstery, sometimes old things can be salvaged with a minor facelift.
New coat, new look: 

11 July 2012

Kim Kardashian-Inspired Initial Earrings

Both her fashion choices and her relationship decisions land reality television star Kim Kardashian in a consistent slew of media headlines. Whether or not Kim is in love with Kanye West or is just having fun really doesn't matter much to me, but what I do find really interesting is her choice of accessories. Her initial displaying earrings are small, but make a bold personal statement and the simple gold is really chic, so much so that it inspired my most recent do-it-yourself project. 

Splash news
I'm sure it would be easy enough to buy a similar pair, but I thought it might be fun to try and make my own.  I used an old pair of earrings and a few cheap supplies and am pretty happy with the results.  Here's what I did:

1. First I gathered supplies: hot glue, foam letters, gold acrylic paint, craft crystals, and old earrings. 

2. Then I picked the foam letters I needed for each earring and removed the excess foam pieces.

3. After that I peeled the adhesive off the back of the foam letters and flipped the letters upside down.

4. Next, I stuck the letters to the old pair of earrings to make sure they fit nicely.

5. After checking the fit, I removed the letters and used hot glue for a more permanent application.

 6. Once the glue had dried, I began painting the letters with gold acrylic paint. 

7. I had to do several coats to get a finished gold look, letting each coat dry in between. 


8. Once painted with several coats, the earrings began to more closely resemble gold earrings.

9. For a finishing touch, I added small craft rhinestones, using tweezers and hot glue to place the stones. 

10. To complete the look, I removed excess glue and added earring backs.

The project worked out great: it gave me a trendy accessory that allows me to make a statement,  to share the one I love, or even to show some self-love by displaying my own initials if I decide to make another pair.  And if you change boyfriends more than you change earrings, this project is perfect because the earrings cost less than ten dollars to make and you are left with extra supplies in case you need to switch up the letters.  

10 July 2012

Receive No Evil

I'm a big believer in maintaining a positive attitude and surrounding myself with positive energy. Even in darker times when it's difficult to be happy, I allow the negative feelings to have a brief period of time and then focus my mind back to a better state.
Recently I learned of something called the evil eye bracelet. I have always heard the phrase "Don't give me the evil eye," but I had no idea that people wore bracelets to ward off this look.


In ancient times people carried around different types of talismans to protect themselves from enemies or people who wished them harm by giving them the evil eye. Supposedly, one look could cause sickness and misfortune. Even those who were most superstitious believed compliments could cause physical or mental harm. Depending on their location and culture, the talismans usually had a small blue (or green) and white oval shape in the center, otherwise known as the evil eye. It was thought that these talismans would deflect the bad energy and send it back to the source.

An outdoor market in Instanbul. 

It is easy to understand why people took these measures so many years ago, especially considering they had no answers for sickness or couldn't comprehend the real cause of "bad luck." Even now I understand why people have bought into this practice, but while I believe it is really just a case of mind over matter, others do need something tangible to hold onto. Regardless of my beliefs, I searched around online to learn more about the evil eye and the jewelry that has developed from this idea. I came across some very unique collections that go beyond bra. Even if they are designed for protection, you can't help but recognize that they are also statement pieces.





The Man Repeller