Sweet, sweet curiosity.

This blog is all about things I have made. You can find intense embroidery, paper quilling mania, crazy gingerbread houses, masks, puppets, steampunk clothes, ornaments, wackiness and sculptures on this site. So have fun and check it out!

Friday, November 26, 2010

CHRISTMAS! MALL SANTA!

My newest exploit has been one filled with holiday fun. In the summer, I was approached by a guy who hired me for my very first job I did out of university ( almost 7 years ago) and he said he had a friend who was looking for someone to build her a Santa Set for the Mall she managed in Milton.  I was interested as I kind of am one of those annoying people who love everything Christmas and do like to enjoy the season as much as possible (December I can't wait for you- my decorations are begging to get put up..). So I began a journey of whirlwind designing, drafting, building, budgeting and organizing for four very busy weeks.

The Concept is "Santa's Workshop" with a Victorian Twist. We wanted something a bit whimsical, a bit traditional and something with a fair bit of depth.  We came up with a Victorian Storefront filled with toys, a little door ( which I liked to think was a magic door that took Santa straight to the North Pole...) ( I know that sounds a bit crazy, but Christmas is fun!) We made the scale so that it was more interesting for kids, they can go in and try out the door, or just enjoy a building that is their height, instead of an adults.  I also added the swirly carved bits at the top to make it feel a bit whimsical and the toys were all found at Vintage stores, goodwill, Value Village and what not because to find toys that are older looking at new stores is very difficult - Everything is plastic nowadays. We also put together a lot of the wooden toys from kits.  Putting the toys into the windows was actually my very favourite part of the whole thing. It definitely brought out the little kid in me, as I was putting the toys in I was saying to myself "this doll should be kind of facing that doll, like they are about to have a conversation", or " I think this teddy bear looks a little lonely he should have a friend." I realize that I may sound crazy again but it's really easy to revert to your five year old self when dealing with Christmas stuff.

We then built platforms for the christmas trees and reindeer to stand on surrounding the workshop.  Then around the platforms we built picket fences that cordoned off the area and acted as a barrier between the mall visitors and the set.  Overall it was a lovely, hectic experience that I learned a lot from and really enjoyed. 

We didn't make the reindeer, the mall had it, I thought it was super cute though.
So if you want to get your picture taken with Santa, go to the Milton Mall!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Geek Craft : Steampunk

Recently I have gotten my geek on. 

Exhibit A : In the summer I went to a great little festival in Milton called Pirate Fest.  It was fun and silly and everybody got dressed up in pirate-type clothing.  There was lots of swashbuckling, drinking and singing irish / pirate tunes. At the festival they had a stand that had some really cool bracelets with some gears and wheels on it. They also had a pamphlet which talked about Steampunk.  I had heard of the Steampunk phenomenon before that but I didn't really know what it was or what it was all about.  After reading the pamphlet I thought that the idea of it was really cool.  I had read a lot of books that were set in Steampunk type worlds and thought that would be a fun, silly thing to get into.

Exhibit B: Fan Expo. This is one of those things you don't need to do very often because it's crowded and silly and exhausting.  However it was also a place where they had some Steampunk Canada representation.  I had heard that lots of people get dressed up for Fan Expo so I took that opportunity to make myself a steampunk outfit.  I had lots of crazy ideas, most of which I couldn't pull off in two weeks and with very limited funds I was definitely limited by what I could get and do for very basically no money.  I had a ton of green fabric I was going to make into curtains for my outdoor arbour, but a tree fell on the arbour so I couldn't use it for that and it was sitting collecting dust.  So I decided to make a skirt and a bustle type thing for the bottom half of me out of that fabric.  I really just used a lot of rooshing. ( I do not know how to spell this word and it looks cool spelt this way.) Which is basically gathering fabric to create a roosh. (or a ruche?)  I had a corset already and a Victorian style blouse so I put that together but realized I needed something to really complete the look so I decided to make a jacket out of corduroy that I had for some other project. So I found a pattern that I had for making a jacket and changed it a little I gave the jacket a high collar, bigger shoulder puffs, and a shorter waist with a fanned tail back.  I also spent a lot of hours watching "Charmed" ( this should really be Exhibit C for my getting my geek on) and while watching I cut big and small gears out of that thin foam you can buy at the dollar store.  I painted them brass and a put a green and rusted patina on them to kind of bring together the colours from the skirt, then I sewed the gears onto the jacket. The next thing I did was put a chain across the front by tearing apart some ugly old necklaces that I never wore.
I had seen little hats on some of the steampunk ladies and figured I could make one pretty easily so  I took a large waterbottle cut out a tube from the middle then cut out a rim of the hat from a plastic plate and covered it in the corduroy. I then added gears and plates from a broken stop watch to decorate it.

Exhibit C: We spoke of this earlier - watching "Charmed" I watched 4 seasons of Charmed. Ridiculous. A bunch of bitchy witches running around playing with demons and warlocks. yikes.

Exhibit D: I am now a member of the Steampunk Canada Club because really if you have an opportunity to wear Victorian Garb and play with silly props, why not?

wow...I really am a geek but not nearly as bad as three quarters of the people at the fan expo.Don't get me wrong I feel proud of my mid-level geekdom, but I also take comfort in the fact that there are weirder, geekier people out there than me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Portfolio.

Most of the stuff I have put on my blog has been crafts that I have done on my own, of my volition.  I would love to share with you all the work that I have been doing other than that, the work I get paid to do is that of a Propmaker, Scenic Artist and designer.So I have put a little portfolio together, it isn't my full portfolio but it does give a really basic idea of what the heck I do with my time.
 
A roughly sculptured deer head made from all metal, welded together with a MIG welder and shaped with hammers to create the shape. This was designed by myself and made to decorate my garden. 
These huge, head-covering, scary, patrolmen masks were designed by Katherine Lubienski.  I carved them out of blue foam and then used a vaccuumform machine to melt plastic around that shape. All the teeth are soft white fabric cut and sewn in a teeth shape and then stuffed. .

This is a chocolate bar wrapper I created in Photoshop for West Side Story.

 These are Helmets for Caeser and Cleopatra. They are made from a fibreglass mold, though metal pieces were used for the ear flaps, and the red bristles are from heavy shop brooms.
These are a set of gloves that I made for King Lear. The metal has been cut in the right shape then hand peened into the right curve to make them work properly.

This set of dress Armour was created for King Lear and designed by Anne Curtis.  I made the fibreglass chest plate, the fibreglass gorgette and the metal Articulated leg armour. 
This is a Carnival Mask I made for my father's birthday.  I sculpted it in plasticene, then vacuumformed the shape, I then added fabric, ribbon and wire to create the curly features at the top.

These Dead Rats were made for Taming of the Shrew designed by Santo Loquasto.  I made them out of fun fur, stuffing, some wood doweling, glue gun, wire and a couple of beads for the eyes.

 
The mask and costumes in this photo were both designed and created by me for a production of Romeo and Juliet with the Classical Theatre Project in Toronto.

 
When I was resident production designer for Smile Theatre, which was my first design job out of University, I designed, painted, built the costumes and the set for this show "Everything's coming up Rosie".  Even though this was quite some time ago I still love the paint job on this show.
 
This is yet another Smile Show in which I designed, painted and made the costumes.

 This floor is from a show at the Blyth Festival which was wood, coated with durabond then brushed to look like old wood, then painted and stained. My husband Paul built this.

 
This is from another show at the Blyth Festival where we had stained sections of wood to look like watercolour. The effect was quite stunning and it turned out to be a beautiful show. My husband Paul built this too!


Well, I think that's it for now. I didn't want to put anything we're working on right now, because I don't wanna give anything away for the season!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garage Sales 4 Saturdays in a row!

AHh.. Spring time.. I feel  like  I need to dust the cobwebs off this blog because I haven't touched it in sooo freaking long! However my life has been BUSY. .  I have been going to the gym 5 days a week and trying to cook all this healthy food. Which cooking - man there is craft in that.  Something I am ever so slowly getting the hang of.  However Since i started working out and eating right I have lost -53 pounds. Which feels a lot lighter and I can do one hell of a lot more stuff! Like go to a billion Garage sales every Saturday for the past 4 Saturdays. ( this takes dedication.. and a super understanding husband..)

At these Garage Sales I have managed to purchase the following:

1) A sweet 1970's vinyl couch and his and hers chairs that I have recovered- 20 buckaroos for the whole set.

 2) Tons of beach books  -I call them that because it doesn't matter if they get sand all over them, and the plots usually aren't intense, so putting them down and picking them up the next time you get around to it won't be a big deal.

 3) Perennials- I do think this is the best way to get plants for your garden.  It's super environmental because they are just separating their perennials to make smaller ones and not having some big store or greenhouse use the heat to make them and gas to get the things to the store. I got a ton of stuff.. There was one great garage sale that had perennials for a dollar and there I got sweet pea climbers, coneflowers, daisies in a bunch of colours, red bee balm, phlox and feverfew. At a bunch of other ones I got some Irises, some Astilbe, a climbing hydrangea, some ajuga, and a peony!

4) Fabric, I love me a good retro print and I got a couple of them.. so yay!

5)  A little scotty dog porcelain soap holder. CHEESE.! but I love it.

This is really all that I got. The thing that I am reallllly looking for is my dream set of dishes.  I haven't found them yet anywhere - not in a store or a garage sale, but I am looking for em. I just need to find the right ones and the price has to be just right too..

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Speaking of Healthy and Nutritious

So January is over, the month of resolutions is finished and February the month of failures reigns.  That would usually be what most people say about their New Year's Resolutions, however, this year for me, a light bulb went off and it's different.  I joined a gym which is what most people do with the simple feeling of needing to change their lives for the better in the new year. What I got in return, was information about myself that I had been denying for a long time.  At the behest of my personal trainer, I went to my doctor, who after giving me a physical informed me that, I at the ripe age of 28, would be eligible for weightloss surgery.  I think I have always just thought of myself as being just a little overweight, but that information shattered that concept for myself.  The truth of the matter is that I am clinically obese. Reality is kind of a cruel bitch, and she slaps hard. So, I haven't blogged in awhile, I haven't crafted in awhile, because I have been working out, and preparing foods that are healthy.  I am trying to change allllll of my old habits which is hard.  It's a huge challenge, one that I am getting better and better at. The good news is that I have lost 17.5 pounds, my heart rate doesn't spike as fast when I am exercising and my body is starting to show it.  I feel good about what I am doing. I feel good about myself.  I think my next crafting project may have to be making new clothes though, because my clothes are getting a bit too loose to be decent.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Organizing... where did I get so much stuff?

It can be totally amazing how much stuff one can accumulate when crafting.. Today I decided to clean up my act a bit and organize just a little bit more. My aim = put all of the same things in the same spot, on the same floor. My problem was that I had several craft centres around the house.  This was because when Paul and I first moved in to this house, the spare bedroom was going to be the computer room and the "studio" space. However it has very much turned into Paul's Space, and I just end up using the kitchen table for everything anyways. So the large drawers which I had filled with random crafty bits was upstairs, but I always end up downstairs. A productive day today was as I have moved it all around, found new homes for things and organized like with like. It was satisfying, but also a little inspiring, touching all those materials that I know I could use for something cool.. what will it be next?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Can of awesome embroidery

To Share with you today.. I was looking at this great blog and there is an ammmmazing embroidery artist who's work is really inspiring and cool.  I found a really cool interview with the artist on a blog called Faster kittykill! Blog! Blog! I know.. weird right? But the artistry in this embroidery is jaw dropping and mouth salivating. That may be a messy combination but it certainly is beautiful work.


It definitely makes me wonder what else I could do with some embroidery thread..

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A plush Robot who needs love.

Sometimes we can buy way too much fabric.  This is the case for a stuffed elephant I made for my nephew.  I had oodles leftover and couldn't decide what to do with it. Then I started doodling and thought - I think I need to make a lonely robot.
It was a pretty straightforward process. I drew out the basic shapes which were boxes and rectangles; figured out the size for each shape and sewed them together with a machine. To piece all of the shapes together I hand sewed A LOT. However when you are listening to a trashy audio novel like the last twilight book, then sewing by hand is the perfect thing to do to bide your time. To give this cutie lil' robot all the details such as the heart, eyes and mouth, I used some wool roving and needle felted the details onto him. I think he was a good use of excess fabric. The question now is what will I do with the rest of the 6 metres that I have left of this fuzzy Grey fabric. hmmmm..

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Duct-tape-tastic!


I am sure many people think it a compliment when told they resemble a famous piece of sculpture. I discovered after having spent 3 hours being wrapped up in duck tape to make a dress form clothes judy, that I most resemble the famous 22 000 year old sculpture, "The Venus of Willendorf". It apparently was a symbol of fertility and the new spring.
 
(photo of "venus of willendorf" courtesy of wikipedia)

SO.. Why did I make this crazy thing of myself? I like to sew, and I like to make clothes for myself. I was never really able to try and make clothes by dressing on a judy because nothing was my size and I really wanted to try some draping techniques. I found that I could purchase a dress form for 300 bucks and it would still never be as big as I actually am. So after going to chapters and browsing through a craft book that was too expensive to purchase, I saw this idea of wrapping yourself in duct tape, then stuffing it and voila! ; a dress form that is exactly what you look like. Now I can make clothes that will fit me directly on a judy. I basically copied what they said to do in the book however, I didn't purchase the book so I made a bunch up as I went along.
    To do this I started by putting on a crappy t-shirt, which I would then use as the base to put the duct tape on to.   My husband sat on a chair ( If you ever decide to do this, there is no shame... so find someone you trust, or someone you can laugh a lot with to do this with). He started by putting smaller pieces on me to deal with the curves.  Then I began to get bored so I just starting spinning around. Not a great idea. Dizziness will follow.  You will also get to a point where you can no longer bend over and peeing just won't happen until you are totally done. So don't drink too much while you do this.
I put on about 4 layers of duct tape then we cut up the back of the shirt carefully not cutting me or my bra. Then I cut pieces of cereal boxes out to fill in the shoulder hole and base.  I then had to stuff the thing.  Though I knew I wasn't a small woman, I found it difficult to fill the space my body inhabited. I did have stuffing but it barely filled it and I didn't want to spend money on stuffing, so I just started crumpling up newspapers and filling the judy with them.  The only problem I discovered with the newspapers, is that they will, over time, lose their shape.  There are parts that are definitely pushed in now, that on my body stick out just fine (thank you very much).
Doing this - gave my husband one more good solid reason why his wife is crazy, but it was fun, funny, and useful. Well, sort of, I used the judy maybe three times, and then the back seam came undone.. so I think I will put the venus of willendorf out of her misery in the garbage.. However she was fun while she lasted.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Can of delight for today: Upholstering the tub chair

   As I have stated in another post - the only way to get experience upholstering is just by doing it. I let my father know that I was interested in reupholstering furniture and if any of the friends of the family needed stuff done I could help them out. My father being the man he is - never let me down!  Neighbours from down the street needed a tub chair and a lazyboy recovered. She bought some nice brown fabric for the tub chair and off I went to modernize it.  I haven't even started the lazyboy yet ( I will admit I am a bit intimidated by it...).
   Some of the things they were interested in doing were losing some of the buttons on the chair as well as getting rid of the skirt to try and make it look more modern.  I accepted my mission and began my second upholstery journey.
   Taking apart this chair took me one hard long day in which my hands were so swollen afterward I couldn't fit my wedding ring on my finger anymore! It also took me two days to heal from so I would suggest perhaps doing the stripping of the chair with a partner or a team as it can be hard on the hands. This chair also had an exorbitant amount of staples. I feel like the original upholsterers may have had a bit too much whisky and thought the staples looked pretty as they glittered or something cause there were piles of them underneath the chair. It was also made in the Seventies, so that might explain it. 
   The most difficult part of this chair was the pillow backing, it was a complicated pattern, that I could not figure out, so although I knew I shouldn't have, I used the original fabric as the pattern. I took copious notes on how everything fit together because I didn't want to screw up their chair, as well as that this was such a complicated chair that I needed all the help I could give myself.  I originally didn't want to put the buttons on the back of the chair, but quickly realized the purpose of the buttons was to hug the pillow to the springs at the back it, so they were necessary. However the side buttons and the puffy side pillows on the arms, which I didn't like, had to go. I replaced some of the foam as it had deteriorated, and just stapled and shaped the front of the arms. Taking out the skirt was fairly easy. I just put piping on the bottom to give it a finished look then brought the fabric up and under the chair bottom.
    The other big difference with this chair was that I hand sewed most of it together. There are pieces that commercial upholsterers use to quicken the time it takes to upholter the chair called tack strips.There are varying types and sizes of tack strips and when I took this chair apart there were at least 8 strips of different types. Not only are these difficult to find for a non-professional upholsterer but they often look bulky on the furniture and I've heard that they are the first spot to show wear and tear so I just sewed these sections on by pinning and hand sewing. I was also told that the finer upholsterers all hand sew these types of areas anyways.
   So this project, all told, took me about seven hard working eight hour days to finish.  I gave it to the neighbours just before Christmas and I hope it lasts them a long time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Erma Lee ; a crafter remembered

This past holiday season, my grandmother passed away. It has been incredibly sad in all respects as she was such a gracious woman, who was incredibly loved by so many people.  I did not get to see my grandmother as often as many of my cousins, as my family lived about an hour and a half away, but every Christmas we went and stayed with my Grandmother.  Her cooking was always exquisite (a trait in which my mother seemed to have been blessed with, but somehow skipped me), her wrapped candies were always out, and her tree was trimmed with some really amazing ornaments.  One year for Christmas she had knitted my sister and I sweaters during the grunge/nirvana phase of our adolescence when the big chunky decorative sweaters were in style. I remember thinking how awesome the sweaters were and I am pleased to say I still have and wear mine on really chilly nights. When I began to get interested in knitting myself, my mother gave me one of my grandmother's sets of knitting and darning needles. It was in a fabric case which was hand embroidered decoratively, which I imagine she had done herself. Inside of it were many needles, most of which I didn't know how to use or what they did, but I took them happily.

I look at them now that she has passed and get more than a little teary eyed.  They are bent, well used and well loved - evidence that she had made many things with those needles. She came from a generation where making your own clothing and knitting was an essential skill. Even when her own children were grown she kept knitting for her grand-children. She was also constantly knitting booties and little sweaters for babies that she would give to the Salvation Army. When I imagine my grandmother I see her with a set of knitting needles sitting on her lovely brown chair and her evil cat named 'Boogers' tucked in close by.  I loved my grandmother very much and I will miss her.  I hope that one day I can honour her by knitting something beautiful for someone that I love with these needles - just as she had done for me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Canned puppy! warm!

   I am starting to think that I am getting to be one of those people who will proudly wear a shirt that says "I (heart) my Scotty" with a cheesy picture of a Scotty dog playing with ribbons, all pastel colours, eighties cut and awful - purely because there is a scotty dog on it. I actually screamed in a clothing store because I found Pajamas that had a scotty on them. I got those for christmas. 
   As I realize that I care probably too much for Peter, my young Scotty dog, I decided that in this wintry land of Canada, my dog needed more of a coat than he already has. Instead of forking over $15-$50! buckaroos on a dog coat, I decided to make my own.


   I began by going to a dollar store and buying a fleece blanket that was red with little dog paws all over it. (I know, it's just one more sign I am going to be a crazy dog lady eventually). I would actually suggest not going this route though, because it was a really small dog blanket and there was not enough fabric to do what I really wanted to. 
   I then measured his back length and around his belly to figure out how much of the blanket would actually go around him.  The fleece was kind of thin so I doubled it up by folding the blanket in half. My basic shape was a rectangle with rounded corners. I made one side more round than the other so as to give the back a nice shape.  Then I cut it out, sewed it together leaving a small section to pull it out through, sewed up that spot and did some decorative top stitching. When I put it on the dog, I thought it looked better if I flipped back one side almost like a collar, so I pinned it back and sewed it as well. I was orginally going to go with a velcro fastener but I didn't have any. What I had a LOT of was some thick black band elastic, so I measured and pinned the elastic on the coat with one band around his neck the other around his belly. I simply took that off the dog and sewed it all together and voila! A quick coat for my wittle precious puppy... oh man...I am doomed.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A difficult can to open: Upholstery on a budget

    At my job, I needed to know how to do a little upholstery but I didn't know how - so to rectify that problem I ordered some tools and a DVD to teach me how to do the more complicated upholstery stuff.  I was determined to teach myself to upholster. I am a pretty good sewer to start so I had a good grasp on making pillows and piping but I had never applied it to furniture before. I had a couch that badly needed to be redone and so I began on my first upholstery journey.
   I watched the DVD and even though the teacher had poor taste in fabric and was drier than a desert, I managed to glean enough to think I could attempt to reupholster my own couch. I can tell you right now, that my first mistake was starting with such a big project.  Having never reupholstered before I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

   Finding the fabric to do such a large piece like this turned out to be a challenge. To do this couch I needed a whole heck of a lot of fabric which can cost a lot of money - money I didn't really have! I went everywhere I could think of to find cheap fabric. I learned that a huge complication with cheap fabric is that it's difficult to find large quantities without any problems in it. I didn't find anything at Fabricland for exactly that reason and they didn't carry rolls long enough for me to complete the project. I had to go to Toronto, to Designer Fabrics, in order to get what I needed.  I ended up with a $7/yard green soft wash denim, that was hardy enough for upholstery but was pretty on the eyes and soft to the touch.  I also purchased other cheap fabric for the inside parts that was strong but also pretty just in case it was seen. 
    I then began the grunt work: taking the couch apart.  I really believe that the hardest part with reupholstering is taking the old fabric off. Well made pieces of upholstery often have about a million staples in them.  Those commercial upholsterers do not joke around. They don't take any chances and so they staple and staple some more until there are piles of wasted staples on top of wasted staples. It's a bit ridiculous.  Taking this couch apart took me a week merely because getting staples out of hardwood is difficult and by the end of each day my hands were red and swollen.   Putting the couch back together took a lot less time - about 3 days.  I had taken photographs of each step of the couch and copious notes on how it was put together so that I could properly put the new fabric on in the correct order. I had been told more than once not to use the fabric I took off of the old couch as a pattern pieces for the new couch.  This is because fabric stretches and a lot of fabric gets trimmed off of the couch once it has been stapled. As well,  you often need extra fabric to hold onto while you are stapling on the new pieces. I added an extra 2 - 3 inches on to my pattern pieces to allow for this.

    When I began this couch I wanted to do something really funky but found that my pocket book could not afford the really pretty fabrics that would have accomplished that easily. Instead I chose to use a darker green piping to give the couch a more updated look. It's still pretty conservative for me, but it's the amount of funky I could afford. Most books on upholstery say the only way they learned was by just taking stuff apart and learning from what was already in the chair. So to my couch and the people who originally upholstered it - I say thank you for the lesson.

Friday, January 1, 2010

In the can today: the crafter erratic

I can remember as a child crafting with my mother. We made ceramics and painted them, created ornaments from cork, walnuts, paper crafts, sewing, knitting, moldmaking, plaster casting, and many more but none of these crafts ever stayed long in our house. We would start with a craft, invest in the tools and then a year or so later, start a new craft. The tools would then becoming fodder for some garage sale in the spring. I can remember thinking at University how that would never happen to me as an adult because money was so tight then ( not that it isn't now) but I cared for my tools and imagined myself using them for decades. I thought then, my mother and I were so fickle with our crafting.
Now that I am an adult and craft on my own, I too, somewhat shamefully find myself to be fickle. The tools I once cherished in University, I haven't touched in years. Last year I thought needle felting was beautiful, interesting and something I wanted to do. I purchased all of the tools and lots of wool, and made a lot interesting projects but this year I find that I am bored with it. I tried to use the rest of my wool and found no inspiration. Then I went shopping in Chapters and found a whole bunch of needle felted ornaments exactly like the ones I had made for my friends and family the year before. I felt two pangs of differing emotion: excitement because what I had made was interesting and cool enough that people in Indonesia also felt it was cool and had to make some, but then I also felt disappointment that this neat idea was now commercialized. Like buying a record and loving a song that hasn't been made into a single yet, and when it is released on the radio the song is somehow tarnished. So needle felting, though it's still in the early stages of becoming a craft in every home, has now lost some of it's appeal to me as a crafter. I don't think I am ready to give up the needles quite yet, but I might think twice before I shell out the dough for a new up and coming craft.
It also makes me think that other people must also be erratic with their crafting choices - What tools have you spent money on and now no longer need, want or look at? How many crafting tools are sitting in boxes waiting for your next garage sale in the spring?