Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And yet more cigar boxes

I love me a good cigar box, you all know that. If it does something cool in addition to being a cigar box, well, that's a big bonus!

Recently, I succumbed to the washi tape craze. I have held myself in check because I can plainly see that these addictive lovely little tape rolls could easily take over. So...washi tape, cigar boxes and a little cruising on the interwebs for inspiration and a new project is born!

Here is the cast of characters: 4 new (used) cigar boxes fresh from my local cigar shop. This time I chose "naked" boxes with no decorative paper covering.

My good friend Chris from Fox Trail Knives was kind enough to cut these little "G" shapes out of some leftover wood I had from another project. We had a nice time brainstorming what their exact size and shape should be for what I wanted them to do. And since he has practically every woodworking tool known to mankind (well not really, but way more than what I have) it was no problem for him to cut these shapes pretty quickly.

Next, he cut and sanded down my dowel rods so that they fit inside each box. The interesting thing about cigar boxes is that they all are unique in size and dimensions. Even those that are for the same type of cigar have some fluctuations. I love that--machine made/computerized precision is death to the organic beauty and individuality of crafts, especially wooden ones.

I had also purchased some hacksaw blades and now I trimmed these to fit within each box.
The serrated blade will act as the cutting edge for some of the washi tape.
A little manipulation quickly demonstrated that if I just glued the blade down to the inside lip of the box (outside mounting would look too crude, I felt) the blade would interfere with the lid closing properly. So I needed a way to tilt the blade inward just a bit. I decided to glue down a piece of string as guard to fulfill that purpose. I used my favorite wood glue which dries yellow. sigh. yeah, next time I'll use the Elmer's so the yellow doesn't show on the white string. But the blade will cover most of it anyway.
After the string's glue was dry, I mounted my blade with E6000, some of my favorite adhesive. Its smelly, but it sure gets the job done. Then I used the wood glue to adhere the G-brackets and...
 Voila! Washi tape storage!
 The dowel rods easily lift out so that I can switch my tapes out, but because the bracket has a raised lip at the back end, the dowel rods easily stay in position.
I've removed the back rod here and you can see the where the rod rests on the bracket.

Thanks again, Chris! I would have had to undergo major contortions to accomplish these wooden cut-outs or something that approximates them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A happy customer :)

My lovely niece recently place a large order from my Etsy shop for some early Christmas shopping. I was quite grateful for the business, of course, and envious that she was getting started Christmas shopping so early. I'm sure I'll be running around in December, as usual. [sigh]

One of the items she purchased was for herself, however, and she sent me a very nice picture of her wearing her new Frida Kahlo pendent.

She paired it with the perfect black cord, I think!

Thanks for sharing, Jackie! I don't usually get to see my creations out in the big wide world when they find new homes, so this is a nice treat for me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Poison Ivy time

Its that magical time of year again when all good children rack their brains for what they are going to be for Halloween. My daughter is the same, and this year decided she wanted to create her own costume (with a little help from mom, of course). Since she is a big Batman fan, she chose the character Poison Ivy.  A lot of interesting make-up will be involved. Leaves will be everywhere!

My job is to help make the skirt happen. After several discussions and a couple of trips to Michael's, we  got down to constructing the leaf skirt.

We began with a stretchy tube skirt that still fit but is never worn anymore. She cut off the leaves from some bushy bunches and I started to pin them down in straight rows starting from the bottom, sewing them down with a zig zag stitch to allow for expansion. I then overlapped rows upwards trying to randomize the dark and light green leaves as well as the occasional leaf with red veins.

The sewing looks a little messy, but each successive row covers up the previous row.

The last row will be hand tacked down. Just a couple of tacks per leaf should do it.

I'll post the finished skirt soon. Hopefully I'll be able to get a picture of my daughter in the full get-up as well.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Fabulous sunsets and recycled maps

Lately, my favorite medium is paper. Specifically, old maps from atlas or foldable road maps or those large map inserts in National Geographics. I find that the map patterns are instantly recognizable as a map (iconic, really) and thus to use them as the material for a different product entirely results in a pleasant mental juxtaposition that keeps flipping back and forth in your head. "Huh?" you say? Just wait...I'll get there.

Recently, I had offered to making some thank you cards as wedding present for some dear friends of mine who will be married on the beach this coming Saturday in Key West. They wanted something: beachy/tropical/maybe palm trees, please? on the cards so recently I got to work.

At the top you can see the envelopes that I made. Each was individually cut out using a template I made, folded, then glued down. The final step is painting on the gum on the flap so that its sealable. Et, Voila! A real, live envelope!

Next, it was time to make the cards. The background was going to be a tropical sunset. Blue ocean pieces were pasted down first.

Next, a series of sunset colored strips and streaks were pasted down in random but leasing more or less horizontal layers. Golds, yellows, oranges, pinks and purples from various different map sources were utilized. An extra strip or two of blue was also added, usually ending in a blue at the bottom. I planned to put a setting sun at the bottom but that just didn't look right, so I left it out. Man, I just love doing collages.

So far, so good. I thought the sunset clouds looked pretty good, and it was a lot of fun to assemble them one after the other.

Now for the piece de resistance! I had cogitated long and hard about how to get that darn palm tree in the image. Here was my process: palms can look either really cool or very stylized and hokey. Obviously, I wanted really cool. To me, really cool = biologically accurate. Hmmm. Biologically accurate palm trees have a lot of leaves. Each leaf has a lot of leaflets. OK--cut them out of black paper? Gack! Heck no. Take, mmmmm....maybe, 10 years? Nah. Draw them free hand? Too much variation possible and take, maybe, 7 years. I had good luck dealing with Simon's Stamps in the past so... I developed a biologically accurate image of palm trees in Photoshop until I had what I wanted, then I sent the image to Simon's and had a custom made rubber stamp manufactured to my size parameters. Here's what I ended up with--a unique palm stamp that I just love. Tell me that that is not a big-ass rubber stamp!

So then I got to the fun part of the project: stamping! Just simple black ink for the palm trees, thank you very much. Because that's exactly what color they are in front of a sunset, don't you know. And the palm tree shape is instantly recognizable too. (yeah, I know, I said that about the maps too, didn't I?)

And my last picture is a close-up of one of the cards. Obviously they are all unique as far as the background is concerned. Each stamp turned out a little different too. I also had to do a little touching up with a black marker as the ink image did not lay down at the paper piece edges. But that was fun and quick job, too. Overall, there's a nice continuity. Very satisfying to see all of them together.

Ok. Juxtaposition time. :)
Look at the bottom picture. Blur your eyes a little. Focus on the background only--its made of maps and countries and oceans and roads, right? Now, focus on the foreground/palm trees. My, those are nice palm trees aren't they?  Background becomes gloriously garish clouds that you would see any day of the week at sunset here in lovely Florida. Not maps any more at all. But wait, they are maps! See? look closely! and..

Boo yah! Mental juxtaposition!