Sunday, March 25, 2012

Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Danger Will Robinson!  The robots are coming!

My friend, Laura, is having a baby.  Her first boy following two girls.  Since three of my children are boys, I'm pretty excited that she'll finally get a taste of boyhood.  She announced that she is decorating her nursery in grey, orange and a "pop" of turquoise.  And robots.  Ok, having noticed a few of her favorites on Pinterest and knowing that she keeps her walls bare until she's absolutely positive what to hang...  I decided to applique a robot for the nursery.

You all know I have just a few (sarcasm intended) vintage scraps (along with a million pieces of yardage) to choose orange, grey and a pop of turquoise from. That scrap stash has been growing exponentially.  These are some that fit the color profile.

I found some pictures of robots and combined elements that I liked.  Also, this had to be a sweet, friendly, gentle robot since he was going in a nursery - namely, he had to be smiling and I wanted him to find wonder in that butterfly I found.  After laying out fabrics, our little friend started taking shape on the ironing board.  Buttons would work for joints, huge snaps for eyes, rick rack for radio waves, and more buttons for knobs - all vintage.

Our robot was going to need a frame.  This is what I do for frames:  find one at thrift that works for size and paint it.  I do this because then I don't have to cut glass, cut a new mat sometimes, buy or assemble a frame, etc.  I used to be a custom framer and I often lament not having the tools, choppers, cutters, joiners, point guns, etc. that I had access to in the art gallery.  But I make do.  I found this frame at Salvation Army for around $5.  I decided to first slap some orange paint on it, and I mean slap.  Nothing fancy - just craft paint.

 Next, I took a votive candle and rubbed it on the beadwork and other edges.

 I chose matte aluminum for the frame - seemed mechanical, roboty and grey.

After the paint dried, I took a clean cloth and rubbed the places
where I wanted to see a little orange come through.
This took some elbow grease.

 But look at the payoff.
Some nice dimension to the frame, rather than just flat spray.

Next, the mat.  The robot needed a mat.  I took the existing mat from the thrift frame and made it narrower using a box cutter and metal ruler.  I didn't want a very wide mat - just narrow to add a border of color.  And it didn't have to be perfect because I was planning to cover it with fabric.

Time to prepare Mr. Roboto's word bubbles.
What would a happy little gentle nursery robot say?
Using a set of antique wooden letters, I stamped, "Beep! Blip! Bloop!"

 Ok, time to refine the pieces, check the layout, size, and border color...
our Gort is shaping up. Should I have his hand on his hip?
I really wanted him to be holding the butterfly!

 Covering the mat was easy with the old glue gun...
just like Carly's frames.

Now it was time to actually sew down the scraps onto the cotton ground.  I chose to do all the stitching in black.  Oh, by the way, before stitching, I tucked a little Stitch Witchery under each piece and stuck it down with a hot iron so it wouldn't shift during stitching.  I also could have done all the pieces with Heat 'n Bond, but I wanted to see raw edges and some fraying.  Heat 'n Bond, which I love,  makes things rather perfect.  I wasn't going for perfect.

Wanting to keep it three-dimensional, I opted for no glass.
Sure hope Laura's little guy likes his robby. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let's Brooch The Subject

The creative bug has really bitten me lately.  I can't seem to even think of giving a gift if it's not handmade right now.  I know, kind of hard to find enough time - especially with school board elections in a couple of weeks.  It's becoming a heated race for two seats on the board - one left vacant by yours truly.  Yes, let's broach the subject.  I did follow through on the statement that I was not running for reelection after serving on my suburban school board for almost 13 years and as president for seven.  Now I'm down to only a few weeks left 'til my last board meeting.  I feel a new dawn coming with freedom on the horizon.

Perhaps I'll blog more about that later, but for now I want to tell you about a little gift I made for a friend's birthday.  A few weeks ago, at our Valentine's day church activity with the 12 and 13-year-old girls we stitched little felt heart-shaped brooches or pins.  Since then, I guess I had an unfulfilled desire to actually give one a serious effort.  Here we go.

The buttons I chose were in a certain color palate.  I don't know why, I just love these colors together.  In the picture, I was picking through my teeny, tiny mother of pearl buttons to choose some for the centers of other buttons.  I'm not very good at dating buttons exactly, but I know all of these are pre-50s with the exception of the blue one - which I didn't end up using.  I really love the tiny yellow button on the white daisy.  To give you an idea of size, that whole daisy is only about 5/8ths inch wide.

Next I laid out the buttons on a vintage piece of cream colored felt, wanting the shamrock to be prominent.  This pin is all about the pink shamrock because it's for a daily-brooch-wearing friend named Erin who was born into a very Irish family the day after St. Patty's day.  And because of that, every year she gets tons of green and themed gifts.  I thought it might be nice for her to receive something that wasn't green for a change.   Yet the vintage pink four-leaf clover is still a nod to her love of all things Irish.

After a quick check on the net for a diagram on how to embroider leaves - I did a few lazy daisy stitches on a stem.  Add a couple of French knots, fasten the buttons on, stuff it with three cotton balls, and finish it off with a simple blanket stitch using... you guessed it, vintage embroidery floss, add a pin back and voilá, it's a brooch!  

Happy birthday, Erin.  
I hope you have something to wear this with!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sometimes You Get Lucky

Thrift shopping can be like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get... I mean... find. And a few weeks ago, strolling through our local Salvation Army, I got the foil-wrapped truffle bon bon from the center of the box! There, by all the other worn out, dated sofas was this brand spankin' new looking mid-century modern couch.

I looked it over.  Lusted after it.  Wondered over it.  Could it be vintage?  It looked so new!  No, after closer inspection, I could tell it was authentic vintage.  And I also knew it would look perfect on my 60s retro turquoise porch.  But (OH NO!) I just got another cute frisĂ© late 40s, early 50s sofa from a friend, so I just couldn't use this darling piece!  Sigh!  And how much did it cost?  There was no price.  Perhaps it had been sold already.  Oh well, couldn't buy it anyway.

Upon returning home, I casually mentioned it to my oldest son who, with his wife, is temporarily living with us in between stints in China and possibly Glasgow.  Anyway, this son enjoys quirky and retro and he's very curious.  So, unbeknownst to me, he went over to the store to check it out.  He also got them to price it.  Would you believe only $20?  YES!  So, he bought it.  And it ended up on my 60s retro turquoise porch anyway... in front of the other couch... for now... or at least until someone returns from Glasgow I guess...  hmmm...

Well, it does match.  Take a look at the weave close up in the sunlight.  
So cute.  Some blue, some olive and some brown.
How perfectly mid-century modern.  

Happy thrift shopping to you and yours and
may you also find the foil-wrapped bon bon of chocolates on occasion!
That's what keeps us going, right?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Carly's Kitchen - Update!

A post ago, I showed you some Victorian die cut roses I framed up for a friend. Well, she has them up in her new kitchen and isn't it all perfect so far? Nice job Carly!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Suess

In schools throughout America, today is Read Across America Day:  a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2nd - Dr. Suess's birthday.  "In honor of my years on the school board" (I am not running for reelection after almost 13 years - my term ends in April), I was invited to be the guest reader at one of our elementary schools this morning.  So, thank you Valley View School for such a fun visit today.  I loved reading to you and having you rhyme with me in your colorful pajamas! 

Keep reading!
err... um, I mean... your school board president... for another five weeks
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