Friday, December 26, 2008

Door Wreath, Incarnation #4

The roses are silver tissue paper, recycled from a November birthday gift. The leaves are a few of the November leaves, gilded with metallic paints. The gingerbread boy is a cookie cutter. The added cord is red and green satin twisted with tiny gold beads.

I burned a LOT of glue this month; a local boutique has some of my ornaments, hearts, bells, gingerbread boys, snowmen. We'll see how they do. *tries not to bounce in chair, lol*

I have a crafting partner now too; we took our crafts to the boutique together and are looking for more places. *waves hello to you!*

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That Glue-torial I mentioned :-)

This is addictive, yanno. I find myself thinking about all the different things I can do with this technique. All it takes is an easily recognizable silhouette... this fig, or these leaves. I forgot to take pics before I glued the fig together, so I will show you with a leaf. Oh, notice the wire fig-shaped framework? If you are using paper bags for this craft, you need a shaped wire like that for the bigger pieces. Since I am using chipboard (which doesn't flop about once you put glue on it), I had to use a wire right down the midddle, though; chipboard *doesn't* mold itself around wire and the framework showed very dramatically. I was surprised the center wire worked!

Make sure you have mirror images.

Bend the wire just a little to be more "leaf-like" if you wish. (The fig wire was not bent.)

Get out your fancy glue palette. *grin* Notice the lil ball of dried glue near the stem? It made wonderful texture when I was ready to glue the fig.

Spread some on and stick everything together. Line up the edges as best you can.

I think they look like little curtain rods with finials... okay, back to the fig. Now that it is glued together and dried, spread a generous coating of glue on both sides. This is messy; quite honestly, it works best for me if I spread the glue with my fingers. I made use of that lil ball of dried glue to put in some texture lines. Then, while the glue was still wet (it gives the best texture to do this with wet glue), I lit a taper candle and ran the fig through the tip of the flame. It sizzled, it crackled, it burned, it made smoke... and it made soot, oh yeah baby!

A good beginning....

You can stop here; the cardboard underneath will show through those light spots. I chose to keep burning, keep painting with flame and soot, until the fig was truly black from it.

It doesn't show very much, but the fig itself did catch fire and I had to repeatedly shake it back out. This is part and parcel of glue burning. Sometimes the glue catches fire, sometimes the paper bag or chipboard box beneath it catches fire. You can minimize it by being certain that you get a good coating of glue on all edges, but a burnt edge is actually good.

If you are using paper, your ornament may very well droop terribly as you burn the glue. Not to worry--just turn it over and burn the other side. As it starts to droop, flip it again, and repeat until you've burnt the ornament as much as you like.

Be sure you use a tall taper, so you don't automatically have to hunch over to see what you're doing. That way pain lies, lol...

Now it's time to wipe the soot off. I used that most high-tech of inventions: a wadded paper towel. Here, tis easy to see on the leaf.

See the contrast? The leaf is fully wiped off and the fig hasn't been started yet.

Ahhh, there we go, wiped off on both sides.

Next step: cut the wire to size and file the end smooth. I used an inexpensive jewelry file for this, because it was small and easy for me to control.

Bend a loop to be the hook. (The "drawing" is actually some of those wadded and well-used paper towels--YOU know, the high tech soot remover gadget.)

Follow the pics....

Now that the soot is wiped off the hook--and the "stem" is darker from being burnt twice--tis time to paint. The colors I chose were Metallic Amethyst, Metallic Pure Gold, and Metallic Copper. I dabbed them on and then smeared them around with my high tech painting tool, one color at a time at first and then multiple colors at a time, until I liked the way they looked.

Remember to paint the hook too. Notice fancy pants high tech painting tool at upper left. *grin*

Finished! This fig went to the person who inspired it, my friend who owns an antique store called... Fig. *grin*

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh!! Too cool!

This nifty lil gadget measures how long it takes your page to load! It measures by your own modem though, so if you have highspeed, it won't tell you how long dial-up takes to load your page.

Still, tis very cool!

Cath the procrastinator... have to head to the library...

Eeeep! and Thanksgiving

Eeeep! I thought I was ready to go on the glue-burning, but the pics still need to be edited, oops. I always rename them so I can tell them apart (our camera just numbers them), and I also cut out the background so they don't take as long to load for anyone on dial-up.

Well. And because y'all don't need to endure my clutter, lol...

But anyhow, I will post the tutorial after I fix the pics.

In the meantime, hope your holiday was wonderful! We shared ours with chosen family and enjoyed it very much. Now to share recipes! *grin*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

That House--our dreams

So I have been thinking, planning, dreaming away about That House... she (I know she is a she) has hold of my heart and my future and it's like the honeymoon stage of a long-distance relationship. Reality in a long-distance relationship might be snoring, toilet paper coming off the roll "the wrong way," favorite foods the other can't stand, friends you don't get along with... any number of things which one doesn't have to face until one IS face-to-face.

I don't honestly know what reality with That House might be. I am besotted despite having watched The Money Pit; the scars from watching the bathtub fall through the floors are not strong enough to scare me away from buying an old house.

Besides, the structural engineer has already told us the floors are sound, lol....

Tonight I am hopeful, more hopeful than I have been. The engineer's report has come in, the termite inspection and basement bid are scheduled, and although we have been flying on blind faith for a while, hoping and praying we could talk the owner into carrying the mortgage himself--which I doubt he really wants to do--tonight it seems like we might have found an agency which thinks like we do.

This has been pretty hard to do, yanno? People at housing agencies find out our income and immediately try to talk us OUT of rehabbing a home, because Gryph qualifies for Habitat for Humanity. We've been steered that way a time or two. The most common reaction I've gotten when I've talked about That House is "WHAT are you doing trying to buy that house?!"

Well, I'll tell you... I'm trying to save a piece of living history. I'm trying to find housing which we can afford. I'm trying to stay in this neighborhood which we love and where we are welcomed. I'm trying to live my deepest values, walk my talk, go green.

You might wonder at that last one; 88 year old houses are not exactly known for being energy efficient. But there's more to going green than mere efficiency. It isn't a matter of saving pennies on the dollar by choosing one insulation over another or by timing your water heater. Going green is about saving the earth.

It doesn't save the earth to bulldoze a home lot out of land which has not been for houses before. It doesn't save the earth to use mondo amounts of new plywood, new vinyl, new insulation, new concrete to build a structure that will outgas formaldehyde and other toxins for several years. It doesn't save the earth to use new construction glues and nails, screws, bolts, washers. It doesn't save the earth to have to put in new streets, pipes and sewers, electric lines, sidewalks, phone lines, cable lines.

Going green is about conservation. It's about using what is already there, rehabbing what can still be saved, valuing what is old and has stood the test of time.

My dream is to live a green life, to love an old house, to recycle, conserve, garden. My dream is roses in the front and a clothesline in the back--the umbrella type, so it doesn't take up too much room and can be brought inside if need be. My dream is asparagus and raspberries at the back fence, so passing neighbors enjoying the treat might decide to grow something also. My dream is drainage made to funnel rainwater into a small pond in the back, thereby saving the basement from shifting again while giving me a chance to grow a small willow tree. My dream is rainbarrels under the downspouts, so that I can water my vegetable garden without being a drain--literally--on the city water supply.

My dream is to take a sadly neglected yard which was once loved and cherished, and turn it into a small piece of paradise, with fruit trees, flowers, herbs, vegetables, berries, a fence so the doglet can run and play *without* a leash for the first time in three years, arbors and trellises, big planters, curving garden beds, a compost pile so that I am not taxing the landfill as much, curbside recycling so I can do my part.

My dream is to take a sadly neglected house which was once loved and cherished, and turn it into a small piece of paradise with shining wood floors, beautifully plastered walls, gleaming woodwork, comfortable furniture, room for us and for us our furbabies, room for our possessions... room for Our Beauty, who herself is 56 years old and will fit into That House as if she were made for it.

We've discovered a Revolutionary War heroine--yes, heroine--named Margaret Cochran Corbin, and we're considering naming That House for her. Margaret seems to fit the spirit of the house, and Corbin means crow... now what could better fit? Margaret Cochran Corbin had a hard life; she was devastatingly wounded during the war; it completely disabled her and she became an alcoholic after. They didn't have rehabilitative therapies back then--or pain meds--and alcohol was probably the only thing that numbed her pain.

That House has been wounded, devastatingly so. I haven't shown you the wall that is so badly bowed out, where the mason shoved it back and forth and made it shake to scare us into hiring him for a complete rebuilding. I haven't shown you the basement--haven;t seen it myself yet, and forgot to give Gryph the camera last time--and I haven't shown you the upstairs, where the last tenant did his most destructive remodeling.

What's different now is that we have rehabilitation for old houses. That House doesn't have to end its days in dissolution, like Margaret Cochran Corbin did. It doesn't have to die young, like she did. There is hope and healing for That House, if only we can find the financing. There is love for That House, if only we can live in her.

Of the other Margarets we found, Maggie Kuhn appeals to me greatly. She founded the Gray Panthers after she was forced to retire at 65, and was quite the social activist for the rest of her life. Margaret Sanger was the mother of modern birth control availability--for me, going green means recognizing that this earth has a serious overpopulation of humans, and needs birth control--and her bravery in the face of overwhelming social disapproval astounds me. There were other Margarets as well... my dream is to somehow commemorate them, maybe with small plaques on the front porch. And the name "Margaret" translates from the original Greek as "mother of pearl" so maybe I could somehow incorporate mother of pearl (or pearls themselves?) into my small memorial.

My dream is live in a house full of character in a neighborhood full of character in a city full of character, a city which values the old, the quirky, the beautiful, the neighborhood, the human connection as much as--or more than!--it values the new, the commonplace, the sterile, the technological.

Mostly my dream is to rescue Margaret, and thereby rescue us.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Rules For Glue-burning

The glue burning is a little tricky. The first rule is, if it *doesn't* set off your smoke alarm, replace your battery.

The second rule is, be sure you sit up straight because if you *ow* get all absorbed in what you're *eeep* doing *aaaack* and you have hunched over side*oof*ways, you will be abruptly brought out of your concentration *EEEP* by a back spasm.


The third rule is, prepare to be hungry for marshmallows. It makes me wonder just what in the HECK they put into marshmallows, since burnt glue smells so much like them.... *huge eyes, with eyebrows into the hairline*

The fourth rule is, don't panic when you catch on fire---er, I mean--when the object in your hand catches on fire! lol!

*primly* We shall not discuss what happened when the dried leaf I was experimenting with burst into roaring flames in my fingertips and WOULD not shake or blow back out..... hey, paper, papery leaf, same diff, right?.... NOT.

Yes, yes, I remain unscathed... except for an occasional twitch now and then...

Guess I'd better take some pics and do a tutorial, eh? Maybe this weekend... today I am celebrating my favorite holiday: payday. Thanksgiving dinner, here I come!!

See ya at the grocery store! *blows kisses*

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Door Wreath, Incarnation # 3

The color is off some; those leaves are more brown than purple and the purple cord's not quite that dark--but my photo program couldn't fix the colors so I left them. It's enough to give you an idea what the wreath looks like this month, anyhow. *smiling* Tis very ephemeral, this wreath. Everything is twisted, braided, woven... only the thread (which binds the feather on) and the purple cord are secured with knots. The leaves are just tucked into spaces between the twigs and when I change the wreath again, they'll come out so new things can take their places.

I kind of like it this way. *grins*

.........wish those leaves really WERE that purple, lol!

That House--exterior pics

This is the front of That Rollercoastering House; sloppy and way too plain, but easily fixed with paint and a little woodwork. The tree on the left is in the backyard. I don't know what the street tree is, but I suspect some kind of oak.

Notice the brick street? Original to the neighborhood. Many of them have been asphalted over, but this one remains. Even one of the alleys was once brick paved.
The truck belongs to a roofer who was giving me an estimate on repairs today.

Ignore the roofer, lol; I didn't mean to take his pic. This pic is really of the north side of the house. The first two windows are above the living room fireplace; the rest are the bedrooms and bathrooms on both floors. That line on the roof is the original built in gutter. The second chimney back by the second floor is from an old gravity-fed furnace, and isn't in use any longer.

The wind is pretty fierce today and I couldn't stay any longer to take more pics. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Glueburning: Because everyone needs a special birthday present...

Tis Gryph's birthday, so what better than a gryphon?

This is the white inside of my flour bag. I just *knew* that paper was good for something! *grin*

Happy birthday, darlin! May it be the start of your best years yet!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Glueburning: I keep going back to basics

There are some crafts that just never get old for me. Have you burnt glue lately? I actually deliberately spent money on 18 gauge floral wire stems and some paint--despite our tight budget!--to be able to do these this year.

Remember what they are? Hint: Aleene's Tacky Glue.

Hint: recycled crafting.

I dangled some beads from the single hearts after I cut them from the main piece of floral wire, but the doubled hearts are on one stem which has been twisted at the top to make a hanging loop. The tassels are just crochet thread which matched the paint.

Hint: Simple craft, easy as can be.

Hint: You need ordinary scissors and a candle.

Got an angel in my pocket... Sometimes instead of dangles or ornaments, I make plant pokes. This angel was just a little too big and kept drooping in on itself over the candle flame, so I ended up picking up the candle and "painting" the flame over the whole surface.

Figured it out yet?

They're made from a USED brown paper grocery sack covered in wet glue! Remember? You glue cutouts together with wire down the middle, coat them with Tacky glue, and burn them over the candle flame. They turn absolutely black with soot (it does make some smoke; you might want to open a window), which you wipe off... and voila! antique metal! Then you drybrush, dab, or sponge them with metallic paint or gold-leafing, and there you are!

MY very expensive, fancy paintbrushes were wadded up damp paper towels. *eyebrow waggle* I used three paints, Folk Art Metallics Antique Gold, Metallic Copper and Metallic Amethyst. The ric-rac scarf on the angel, the crochet thread tassels, and the beaded dangles were all made from leftovers and/or scavenged from other projects. One evening's work total, including the time it took to remember how to efficiently use the candle and whether it matters if the glue dries before you burn it (nope).

I haven't had so much fun in an age. *grin*

That House--kitchen, bath, and laundry room tackiness

So yanno, when you're looking at an old house, there's the gorgeous parts and then there's the "modern, improved" parts.... I've already shown you unimproved gorgeous. Now here is the view from the back door, all the way to the front door.

I don't know what purpose the laundry room once served, but I would think it was probably a mudroom and laundry room even before automatic washers were invented. You can see this is where they brought the electricity inside.
One wonders JUST how tall these people were? lol!!!

Ohhh my gosh, let's NOT look down, okay? I cannot safely descend into the darkness, so the basement post will need to wait until I can get up and down the steps.

Moving through the laundry room and kitchen now... remember all those doorways from the dining room?

Here is the hall closet, between the front bedroom and the bathroom. One wonders what it looked like when it was new; surely not like this?

And here is the bathroom. The window has been hidden behind the panel on that back wall. The owner did this remodel/update (presumably in 1981 when he bought the house) but the vinyl flooring is courtesy the last tenant, the one who did the unauthorized remodeling which involved so much destruction.

And now for the ultimate in tacky remodels.... here is the owner's idea of what a kitchen should look like. *sigh* If the cabinets were not cheap and broken particle board, it might not be so bad... but not only are they cheap, they are filthy with years of cooking grease and general grunge. I really don't want to put my food or dishes into those cupboards, but if we do get this house--when we get this house--redoing the kitchen cabinets will be pretty low on the priority list. Buying a stove, refrigerator and washer/dryer have to come first. We'll just have to see whether cleaning can work a miracle...

It took us a while to figure out why the vinyl was missing from this patch of floor on the opposite side of the kitchen, and why there was a 220 outlet there. It was hours before I dredged up from my memories how excited my mother was to buy a freezer that just plugged right in, that didn't need a special outlet... my best guess is that there was once a chest freezer in this corner that was SO HEAVY they couldn't move it to lay the flooring.

The wood underneath here is absolutely gray and I couldn't tell what kind it is, whether oak or pine. The next time we get to go inside I will take another look.
Till later!

Friday, November 14, 2008

That House--full size pics

This is what has me so completely distracted from everything, even the internet.... Gryph and I have fallen in love with That House. Tis a Craftsman Bungalow, built in 1920, and although there are many things wrong with it, including two bad remodel jobs, there are also many things which could not be more right. This is the living room--well, one end of the living room!--with the original gas fireplace and built-in glass-fronted bookshelves. You can also see the badly built window seat a tenant installed. It was evidently the same tenant who painted the iron front of the fireplace gold, and left Christmas tree lights inside it. *eeep*

The floor is solid oak. The woodwork is original.

This is the view out the back door. The concrete is extensive; dunno whether it was a patio or a driveway originally; it might have also been the foundation for a garage, since many of the houses in the neighborhood have detached garages at the back. What the concrete would be for me? Space for flower pots, stand-alone small greenhouses, a patio table and chairs....

The doorways into the bedrooms, hallway, bathroom and kitchen from the dining room. You can see one of the original furnace vents at the lower right corner. Some of the doors are missing, but the frames are all still intact. This floor is also solid oak. The floors in the bedrooms are solid pine. The kitchen floor is covered with vinyl, so we don't yet know which wood it might be, but I suspect the bathroom floor is pine like the bedrooms.

The dining room windows, and the return air vent for the furnace. These windows face south. The top window is diamond-paned "wavy glass" although it looks flat in this pic. I don't know why it was popular back then to make a window that curved in and out.... because they could? lol!
You cannot tell from the inside, but these windows are the site of the worst structural damage to the house; the wall outside has bowed out as the foundation shifted, and has separated from the windows. It did give me the chance to peek inside the wall and see that the house is built with an inner brick wall, an air space, and an outer brick wall.
Some of the interior walls still have their original plaster.

From the kitchen, through the dining room, to the front door. You can see the windows on the other side of the living room in this pic; the fireplace is on the north wall, these windows are on the south wall. The door and the light fixture are not original... but then, they don't have to be. They're still part of the history of the house. *smiling*

Tis my dearest hope to be able to buy this house! More pics later.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mousie, mousie

Sometimes one comes across the oddest things... recently, I came across leftover felt pieces for making catnip mice cat toys. I can't make them for my cats; you might see why if you look closely at this pic...
Yes, yes indeed... Self-Installing Canine Application, Module One, running on the DogMyFootsteps Platform.
Mousies are just about the easiest sewing project I know of. You cut three ovals out of felt and sew them together with embroidery floss, using a blanket stitch. I evidently had gotten fancy here and tried to cut a snout--trust me, it didn't work the way I wanted it to.

I twisted a length of embroidery floss into a tail and sewed it into the mousie as I put the first two ovals together, then immediately joined the third oval in, starting where the tail joined. The open side is at the top in the pic above, but it didn't stay the top of the mousie. That's the beauty of the oval shape--you can flip it over if it looks better the other way, and no one will ever know that you're not a genius. *grin*

Ready for stuffing.

All stuffed now, with catnip tucked into the middle of the mousie and polyester fiberfill all round. The mousie is stitched completely shut, the "nose" is given critical inspection--and by that point I was certainly feeling critical! lol--and here you can see the first ear, ready to be sewn on. The slit is to make it easy to pull into mousie-ear shape.

One down... to go. You can see that one doesn't even have to cut the thread (floss); just go through the mousie to the other side.

After the second ear was on, only the whiskers and nose were left. Again, no need to cut the floss. Tis one continuous piece from seam to ear to ear to nose to whiskers.

They always come out a little different. Wonder what this one's listening to?