Thursday, January 29, 2015

That's How It Goes

So I see a medallion, something with a rivoli in the middle, something using Swarovski bicones (which I somehow never use), something rather floral, and I was inspired so I started stitching.
Almost immediately it was clear that what I was stitching was going to be absolutely nothing like the medallion I saw so I just kept adding beads until it seemed like it was done.

And that's the way it generally goes, only with more undoing or cutting up (there was no cutting). I think I was so pleased to be stitching something new that I didn't need it to be like anything in particular. I started adding the beads I'd set on my table, and when they no longer worked, I reached back for beads that fit into the gaps and continued until there were no more gaps and it held its shape.

Pretty painless actually.

I rather love the colours - I think one or more of my Bead and Button kits should be in this colour-way.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Camp Chez Moi

It's been all Craft Camp this weekend.
I made a new beaded bead.
 I took my old, ugly, stained but still perfectly functional crockpot that even my cat doesn't care for (she declined to climb into it and she will pretty much try to squeeze herself into any container)
and spray-painted it silver. It was either silver, black or red. Yes, that's a drip because I painted it too thickly. It's heat-resistant paint so why not?
Some things actually got completed like this tray that I painted and tiled.
 Bad picture, but it turned out pretty well. The other tray is hideous though:
The glass globs are really close together on the base but as soon as you grout it looks as though they're just floating around in there all antisocial. And the tray thing was hideous to start with; some questionably interesting glass-and-grout just can't save it, but it was an interesting experiment and scratched an itch.

 This, um, thing to hang on the wall is complete except for those magic Command strips for the hanging part. Those brightly coloured bits aren't really - they're holographic paper that tricks cameras (so silvery).

With this little project I learned that I can saw through MDF relatively easily even with a hand-saw. Not terribly straight mind you, but I can get through with minimal pain so that's good to know if ever I'm faced with a large piece of MDF and my life depends on making it smaller and all I have is a muscle-powered saw.
 Yeah OK I painted stuff. I kind of enjoy wielding the Power of the Spray.

I also started something which I haven't yet finished. This awful and pathetic little table was taken apart.
 Painted (when I thought I was going to do something else with it) and covered with tinfoil.
And there are more steps involving I think varnish and stain perhaps (I have to check the instructions) but I may not do them until next weekend. That was messy fun.

I did NOT sew the curtains for my bedroom even though I have no excuse except that I wasn't in the mood but I know, I really should. I neglected what I should have done and focused my attention on silly fun stuff.

My brand-new shower is leaking all over the place and I'm starting to lose patience.

I don't think I use a non-standard showering technique, but every morning after my shower when I scoop the cat-litter there's a massive puddle in the basement which I can see has trickled down from the outside edge of the shower, through the floor and down the concrete basement wall, but when the professionals come to my house and run the shower and do their experiments, it doesn't produce even a drop in the basement. It does however produce a puddle on my bathroom floor outside the shower, and you can even see its escape route.

After I have showered I can find no moisture outside the shower (though I suspect my bathmat covers the aforementioned bathroom floor puddle), nor on the outside of the shower door or anywhere except in the basement and I'm at a loss as to what difference it makes when a person stands under the running water versus when no one does.

I guess my frustration resulted in Craft Camp where we get our hands dirty, glue things and paint things and indulge in other mindless occupations.

It was fun though, and quite productive.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Skip the Queue

There's all sorts of awesome at the hardware store and I really need to make an effort to incorporate more of it into my beadwork.
I finished this last night before bed and added the clasp this evening after class. It barely gets faster than that.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Thing from the Queue

This has been one-eighth done for at least six months and every time I saw the baggie I just set it aside. I guess I didn't have any beading projects which clamoured loudly for my attention, so this finally is complete.

I'm not sure what it's FOR though: I am teaching this at Bead and Button, but (a) this isn't a colour-way I'd planned on (not sure if I can find these same pinch beads again) and (b) sign-ups for this class aren't exactly vigorous - moribund is more apt unfortunately, so I may not need class samples at all. Which is not to say I won't make kits for Meet the Teachers, though (see (a) above) not necessarily in this colour.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

All Candy All the Time

I made a class sample. I know it's pink, I know it's sort of floral-adjacent and for cying out loud yes I know it has hearts in it but still. I still like it.
 Perhaps I'm irrevocably on my way to twee. Or maybe I'm already there.

Speaking of that possibility, I finished the painting the colour gradations and while I kinda sorta think I like them, those colourful ceramic knobs I bought at an art fair about twenty years ago have had their day in the sun.
 I got a bargain on a job lot of cast-iron outdoor faucet handles, so I scrubbed them and painted them (the same colour as the lamps) and replaced the drawer knobs with them and I'm pretty pleased.
 I left the handles on the other dresser as (a) they don't annoy me too much and (b) they don't annoy me enough to want to fill and sand and repaint three holes per handle on each drawer.
 The old oak dresser also used to have colourful ceramic knobs and even though the bronzy faucet handle knobs make for a more monochromatic look, I much prefer them, though I do have some Ideas About Colour, but they're more musings than urgent plans.
Here's a closer look at a few of them (they're not all the same):
The dresser? It used to be white and used to live in the spare room in the house in which I grew up and my mother kept her fabrics in the two big drawers, but apparently it was my father's from when he was a child. For an as yet undetermined reason (I asked once and did not get a satisfactory answer), before my parents left South Africa, they stripped off (most of) the white paint and it turns out that this is one of the few pieces of inherited furniture which I actually like, as opposed to all the useless fussy antique chairs and impractical ornate little coffee table and more.

So this was fun and all but I'm really ready to make something which doesn't involve paint or a cordless drill. This stuff is gratifying, but it feels a bit like junk food: after a while you need something that you can sink your teeth into that really feeds you in a healthy and sustaining way.




(But in no particular order except really I want knitting to be number one the way it was before my hands betrayed me).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Usual

I have a few inches to go on the current kumihimo rope so I quickly added the clasp on this one to avoid an ever-lengthening queue of necklaces waiting for clasps. I need some motivation, any motivation sometimes.
Even though the bead probably has equal parts teal and purple shimmer from the dichroic glass, I'd hoped the purple seed beads would be the dominant colour (black and silver aren't really colours) in the rope but if I'd stopped to consider a little more carefully I'd have realized that the colour I liked, being a rather muted shade had no chance in a battle of volume over bright teal, merely because I favoured it.

Funny how that works. Just having a preference does not in fact alter reality. Would that it were not so.

I like the way it turned out anyway but I still wish it read more purple.

Two years ago I'd have looked at me funny if I said this, but the truth is that any time I do anything with my hands that feels as though I'm applying any kind of force, I worry about damaging my thumbs more. And during the day if my hands are achey, I worry that even if I rest them, I'll get no relief and I'll never ever be able to do the things I enjoy, and that over time, not only will I have to completely exclude what I love, but the pool of things I kinda like will keep growing ever smaller.

And it may well be so eventually, but not yet.
Sometimes, when my hands are having a good week, I can knit for an hour or so on a few consecutive days.

It's not much but it's marginally better than nothing.

With a bit of luck I might have a new pair of gloves to wear before spring obviates the need for them.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Chores and Paint and Wood

If you're here because you want to see beading, I'm sorry, not today. I had all these intentions and lists (really just the one list), and the intentions fell by the wayside and the list, while in decent shape actually, was beset by digressions.

Remember the lamp from Wednesday?
 It has a sibling. A fraternal twin if you like.  One for each side of the bead, you know.

(And that little thing on the left is an experiment which I believe to be successful but which I've decided I won't use because it's really only Plan B and Plan A is in process. It's a drawer pull, in case you were wondering).

Lampshades, that's the thing. I can't quite. They're sort of balancing in the picture above, while below I hit on the genius idea to use that foam insulation tape to make a snugger fit and keep it upright.
Genius except for the white foam tape glaring through the frosted glass. Truthfully, this is not the shade I really want, but the one I do really want involves wire parts which I suspect I can't make successfully and which I'm not keen on buying for more than the entire lamp (excluding the bulb) cost me, even if I could find them in the appropriate size so that's on hold for now.
I found a thingie in the plumbing department which doesn't really support the shade any better, but it looks more finished, so I guess I need another one for the other lamp. No, I don't have pink light bulbs - I'm all out of LEDs and the stupid CFL just won't do anything but be pink. I'm so over CFLs and I have a whole box of indoor flood CFLs which are horrible and represent a year's allowance for a very small and possibly somewhat deprived child but which I'm thinking should just be donated somewhere because they're just awful.


There were projects on the list which fell by the wayside:
Stupid warped wood. I can't keep it firmly clamped forever, but I might have to hammer some nails which I can do, though not reliably. They go in crooked. That I'll tackle another time.

My bathroom, by the way, finally has its second shower door and is all inspected. Finally.

I had this thought about bathroom vanities. (Also kitchen cabinets, but I'm not on a Quest in that room right now).

So there's a big rather deep space and if your bathroom is anything like mine, much of what is kept in the vanity is small, except for maybe the toilet paper.  Or a hairdryer, but mine isn't usually in there. And oh, you know, toiletry bags for travel but STILL, most of it is small stuff and in Bathroom 1.0 there was a crappy dollar store plastic bin which (a) overflowed and (b) was not a useful size being too small to contain everything and yet too big to find anything in it.

I keep thinking I can do woodwork because my father was fabulous in that regard and I spent hours in his workshop watching him, and all three of my brothers are pretty capable too - though admittedly they're all replete with power tools: drill presses and table saws and belt sanders and planers and whatnot and all I have is one corded and one cordless drill as well as a small assortment of not fabulous hand tools.

But still, I keep thinking I can, especially when I see instructions and pictures of all these girls on the internet doing all sorts of remarkable things with wood.

With power tools but STILL, I'm sure I could.

What I wanted to make is a bunch of drawer-type things - I mean, how hard could it be? You can get the drawer glides and there are plenty of instructions both anecdotal as well as from the manufacturer about how to install the glides so surely I could do that small amount of woodwork.

Not so much with only two cheap mitre boxes and only one saw between them, and a hacksaw which works (not accurately in my hands) for dowels and PVC, but not so much for planks of wood. This means that any woodworking I do must be with the full cooperation (and their three free cuts per board) of Home Depot and/or Lowes and it's not as though the cuts are accurate so perhaps I should leave the drawers in the vanity until I'm better equipped in the workshop department.

What I was able to make though I'm quite proud of - not as much for my mad woodworking skills but rather for the idea.

You can't really use the space directly under the sink because it's oddly shaped and then there's the problem with all the pipes.  I'm against bathroom furniture whose sole purpose is the storage (and all too often the display) of toilet paper. There's just something wrong with it. You know toilet roll covers are an abomination, and the multi-roll holders really aren't much better. It's not as though I'm Victorian in my attitude towards toilet paper - I do not for example refer to it as "bathroom tissue" - but it seems to me that there must be a better storage solution that utilizes that funny little space under the sink.

You know, something made out of vinyl-coated wire because there are at least forty-seven things out of vinyl-coated wire that are ridiculous and unnecessary as well as a few things which are useful so surely there must be a well-designed space-saving TP dispenser? I mean, there are soda can dispensers (I don't drink it) and canned soup dispensers (I might buy a can of lobster bisque once a year when the memory of the last can has faded) but no. No sensible TP dispensers.
 So I made one.
It lives under the sink, is slanted, hold four rolls and honestly could have been an inch lower but still it works as designed.

Installing it though, that was a bit of a logistical puzzle but as you can see, I managed. It doesn't even wobble (much). No more piles of toilet paper that come tumbling out every time I open the door,

And this was on the list!

There's been a whole lot of painting, some planned and some unplanned.

I have a pair of unmatched nightstands/dressers which are both wooden, mostly, but have "oak finish" which is probably a veneer with a varnish which ends up yellower than I've actually ever seen actual oak. Not crazy attractive, but perfectly functional and I'm pretty sure they could be improved upon.
 Yeah, I've already removed the bottom drawers so that I can have my way with them.
I still haven't rehung the overmantle by the way. See? It's still resting against the wall.
Looks a bit funny with one plummy drawer.
Yeah, there's an ombre thing going on. I mix paint colours the same way I mix dye colours the same way that your great-grandmother cooks: sort of by feel and/or trial and error.

The larger dresser will probably keep its handles but the smaller one will not. Those artsy colourful ceramic handles are no longer beautiful in my eyes and they will have to go - just as soon as my eBay purchase arrives.

This job too was on the list.

When I moved into this house about fourteen years ago, there was a very ugly thing (a few ugly things actually) attached to the wall on the little landing to the basement stairs which were held there with screws and red plastic wall anchors. My parents, who were visiting at the time, brought me a few things which I believe were intended to be placemats but which had been painted by some so-called artist and which they placed on the walls of the landing to the basement steps to cover the ugly things in the wall.

I never really liked them but I only really started disliking them a few months ago. They were attached with that double-sided foam tape which when you attempt to take it off invariably peels itself partially in half, leaving both surfaces with some jagged janky foam and some adhesive, and removing these placemats was no different, so I removed two of the four and let the other two glare at me every time I walked down the stairs. Or up. Which I do a lot as my studio is downstairs and the TV is downstairs and oh yeah, the washing machine and my two drills (corded and cordless) and the nails and screws and miter boxes and all that are all downstairs. And the paint.

Yesterday I reached my limit and pulled off the remaining two placemats, yanked out the red wall anchors and filled in all the holes and then thought about what I'd done and what needed to be done.


A stairwell.

What, scaffolding? Not really.
 But I can tape off the areas I can reach and perhaps sometime I'll add decorations along the probably barely visible lines between the new white paint and the old most-likely-used-to-be-white paint.
I'd thought there was plenty of paint in the basement but the first three cans of white were completely dried out.
Luckily there was paint that was useable and so I set to work. The temporary shower curtain made a pretty decent drop-cloth and I picked up a little "helper" along the way, but it turned out she really didn't enjoy the process, although she did watch me carefully, especially when I painted the edges around the door. She seemed to think that was pretty interesting, but declined to offer any further help.

This patch and paint job was absolutely not on the list which is nonetheless in pretty good shape (more things crossed off than not, even counting the extra things I added afterwards).

Not that I'm itching for the weekend to end so that I can back to work, but still, it was generally pretty satisfying.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Some Success

Hey, Bead and Button registration opened yesterday and I have seven classes! You should sign up, all your friends should sign up, and all their friends should sign up. You can find my classes HERE!

A class sample for yesterday's class. I'm finding that copper-twards-pink (rather than copper-towards-orange) colour quite appealing.
 And then I finished my table lamp which I have declared successful enough to make a mate (which will mostly match) and to order parts for a floor lamp and possibly more.
While PVC couldn't be easier to work with and cut to size, it's also rather flimsy and because I don't necessarily cut accurately (not because I don't want to, you understand, but because I suck at it) I'm not satisfied with the stability of what I've made with PVC (except the lamps with holes in them. I'm pretty satisfied there). The metal pipes are less forgiving, more expensive and less versatile in some ways, but I like the look much better.

In case you're interested, some of the pieces were what's called black steel and some were galvanized (not so black) but I cleaned and painted all of them a colour they call dark bronze but which could more accurately be described as dull copper.

And no, the house didn't go dark when I switched it on, and I didn't electrocute myself.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Apparently when I'm de-stressing I just don't get much of substance done. I think it's OK though because I feel Much Better.

I fooled around with glue and glass globs.
 Candle holder.

Looks pleasant in the dark. (As do I increasingly so as the years pass).
 I've been painting my bedroom and I'd be done, but for one thing.

I have a lovely oak over-mantle that used to live in my parents' cloakroom in the house in which I grew up, and has been living over my dresser since I moved into this house over a decade ago. My father put it up, and I vaguely remember something not going all that well in terms of aesthetics, but it's been secure on the wall so I haven't given it any thought.
 I had to take it down (with the help of my son) in order ro paint the wall, at which point it sort of started coming back to me when the screw and its anchor fell out of the wall when I moved the screwdriver away, leaving a hole.

No worries, I'm magic with the putty knife and joint compound, so I happily filled smoothed waited and painted.

When I went to drill the hole for the new anchor a couple of days later, the patch was still soft, so I removed the misbehaving soggy joint compound, bought some heavy-duty stuff which claimed to dry in one to five hours and used that.
 Over the paint, unfortunately.

It took about a day to harden, at which point it was dimpled by the few fingertip tests which verified its slowness to harden, so I'm waiting for the next layer to dry and meanwhile my muscle (a.k.a. my son) is off on vacation for a week and a half so the over-mantle rests on the floor against the wall of my bedroom.

I turned my eyes to another project but it's not quite done yet.
 It involves replacing this ugly lamp which I never loved but now positively dislike with something which starts with a block of wood, drilled and stained and varnished.
There's glue and paint drying in my back basement.
And some wiring to be done (electrical as well as the bending type).

This project is a proof-of-conceptt type of project in which about ninety-eight percent of the time was evenly divided between looking up instructions and prices online and buying and returning parts to and from Home Depot and Lowes. And I'm not done with that part even.

Its partner should take about fifteen minutes in total, evenly divided between ordering the parts online and assembly. That is, if this one turns out to be successful.