Saturday, June 30, 2007

June 2007

Coming "clean"

Yuk, yuk, and yuk

After all the comments flying about the positive impression of my home, I feel I must come...ahem...clean. How awful is this? I mean, my guests and I are supposed to enjoy a meal here?

How does something like this happen? Being honest as I can, here are the problems I think that have lead to this particular mess:
  • I love books. (That's kind of obvious, I guess.) Still, does loving them mean I must keep them the rest of my life? I'm realizing, no.
  • I have a small home. I love living here -- for the last nine years -- so, duh!, time to scale myself accordingly.
  • I've been working on the "book problem" for a while, but I need a faster, eco-consistent way to clear them out. (I can't bring myself to simply throw out books, as my boyfriend has shockingly suggested.) Bookmooch is great, but it's slow going.
  • I have no idea how I would like this space to look without the books. The books keep me from implementing anything attractive. I need a creative vision.
  • And lastly, I have the weird ability to turn a blind eye to whatever I don't want to see. Taking this picture made me look at it.

That was therapeutic.

Now, it's time to stop yaking about the yuk and do something to rid this eye sore. It's time to get real, and real serious.

Dear readers, I'm making a vow to you, to the visitors to my home, and myself. I will work on this problem spot, using the little a day method, and post pictures of my progress the last day of next month. And the next month, and the next month, whatever it takes until I get this area cleared, and well on its way to its potential for a happy space to dine or to sip coffee in.

A blog experiment! That should light the fire under my behind. Any body else want to join in?

Friday, June 29, 2007

My custom speed cleaning solution

Speed cleaned and re-arranged bureau

When I was a kid, I was pretty good at housecleaning. I helped my mother clean weekly and I kept my room neat. (You vouch for that, don't you, Mom?) But as an adult I've struggled with house cleaning. It's such a chore! I'm so disorganized! I'd rather do something fun! I'd rather poke a hot stick in my eye!

Lately, though, I've come up with this trick to help me clean house when the whole house needs, like today, a good once over.

For each room, I set the timer for 15 minutes. This helps me keep in a "head down a** up" state of mind. This little trick helps me see quickly what needs to be done and to get busy doing it. Otherwise, when I'm faced with a messy room to clean, I am likely to quickly stray. I'll begin cleaning out a drawer, or reorganizing a bookshelf, or deep cleaning behind some door somewhere -- any minute task that is not part of the big picture.

If I feel I must take a break -- and, truth be known, it's not uncommon for me to feel that way -- I again set the timer for 15 minutes. When it rings, time to get back to cleaning. This $6 Ikea timer, for whatever reason, works wonders for me.

Rrrring. Break's over!

Ebay? Etsy instead. " Your place to buy & sell all things handmade." I've bought a couple of things in the past -- couldn't have been happier -- and have drooled over my monitor for many others. Next time you are looking for a gift, think of Etsy where you can find a gift that not only will you love giving, but you will love buying because it supports independent artisans.

This pair of mooncake soaps were a gift for my mother, bought from Etsy seller MidohanaGoods.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Passionflower vine

Amber globules on a passionflower bud and leaf

There is always a lot of activity on my passionflower vine, what with the bees, caterpillars, spiders, and butterflies. But I have no idea what these globules are. Since it is amber-colored, I have a feeling it has something to do with the Gulf Fritillaries, but I'm not sure. Anyone have ideas? Could it be butterfly pee?! ha

Update: Well, I'll be! It's not butterfly pee, but I'm not too far off. A Google search of "Gulf Fritillary life cycle" revealed that the liquid is called meconium, expelled soon after a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. As one site describes it, "Don't be alarmed if you see a red liquid which looks like blood coming from the tail end of the butterfly. This is called meconium. It’s the left-over color and unneeded tissues from the butterfly’s wing formation." Aha! And that is why it is amber. I learned something new today. :)

(Credits: this picture gave me the name of the stuff, and this text explained it.)

Here are a few more pictures to give you an idea of all the goings-on there. The vine, the blooms, the fruit, Gulf Fritillary egg, Gulf Fritillary caterpillar, Gulf Fritillary butterfly:

It's a little world of wonder in there!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Shrinky Dink and Minwax

Pin cushion I made for Star Bright's birthday last year, with Shrinky Dinks of butterflies we have around here.

Shrinky Dink

I don't know what else to call Shrinky Dink, so I'll explain what it is for you crazy for'ners. ;)

It's a common item found at hobby stores. The packaging is geared toward kids, but the baking definitely requires adult supervision. It comes usually 10 sheets of plastic in an 8 X 10" package. There are several different varieties available, each with its own qualities -- kinds like frosted and another kind for printing on your printer. You draw on it with a pens, colored pencils, and I suspect water color would work although I've never tried that.

You cut out your drawings, lay on a cookie sheet, pop into a preheated 325 F (163 C) oven and -- the best part -- watch it shrivel, twist, straighten itself out through the oven window. In just a couple of minutes your pieces have shrunk to 1/3 its original size and is now much thicker. You can make key chains, Christmas ornaments, and all sorts of do-dads. If you want to hang it, remember to use a hole punch before baking.

Here's a tutorial with pictures of making pins.

MinWax's Polycrylic


And now for the mysterious Minwax. This is the stuff I use as a finish on a lot of things. You can buy it easily at the hardware store, typically around the paint isles, a pint for around $5 USD. It comes in a matte finish as well I believe. It's probably intended for use on finishing wood, but I use it to finish collages, instead of ModPodge which I don't like because it stays tacky. I'm certain there are other brands of this kind of product and I suspect they would work just as well.

After several coats of this stuff, maybe ten, it gives your collage a smooth finish and intensifies the colors. It becomes a clear, thick sealer enabling the collage to be handled pretty roughly without damage -- an important quality for things like the collaged luggage I made for Kitten. I've also used it to finish acrylic paintings to give them a protective coat as well as bringing out their colors and giving a nice finishing sheen. It doesn't have an odor, is not sticky, and water wash-up is a snap.

I love this stuff so much I even tried using it as a glue, but it didn't work. Oh well, I'll keep using my kid's white school glue with a paint brush.

Oh, and here's Minwax's page about this product. They say to let dry 2 hours in between coats. Um, I'm not that patient. I wait only until it's dry to the touch. And sometimes not that long.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What can you Gocco on?

Click image for a larger view

This evening I wondered what kinds of paper would Gocco work on. I took out my experimental master screen from the fridge and gave it a whirl on these things I found around my office/craft room.

Top row, left to right:
  • Transparency sheet
  • An acrylic I painted and had finished with quite a few Minwax polycrylic coats
  • The front of a Diet Coke cardboard
  • The back of Diet Coke cardboard
  • Rice paper
Bottom row, left to right:
  • A magazine page
  • Shrinky Dink (unshrunk as of yet)
  • A page from an old Gregg Shorthand book
  • (Below it) a plain white letter-sized envelope
  • A piece of marbelized paper I did a long, long time ago
  • The frontispiece of a book.
I also wanted to try a photograph, but couldn't find a "scrap" one to print on. I'm sure, however that it would work because everything I tried, but one, turned out perfectly! The only one that didn't turn out is the frontispiece of the book. Three-dimensional things are tricky to fit in the press.

The mind does race with possibilities for implementing prints into collages, stationery, and other fun things.

Close up for Rima

Rima commented that she wanted to see the "watercolouring" that I did on my first Gocco prints. Shhh. No one tell Katlynn I used her set.