sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
$20 later, I've come home with some really awesome craft supplies.

3 small wooden boxes from a local Dollar Store (which is something of a misnomer, since just about everything there costs more than $1, like those boxes), which will be sanded down properly, painted, probably have a coat or clear something-or-other added to them, lined with soft shiny material, and then probably sold on ArtFire because I can't think of anyone who'd want them as gifts and I don't have a credit card to get an Etsy account.

Also got a bamboo pencil case which will also be decorated, though I'm not quite sure how yet, as there are enough gaps in the box design that just painting it as I would a flat box won't surk out very well. It'll take a little planning, but I'm sure I'll come up with something good.

And a small folding wooden paint brush case. See above on the decoration. That one I'll probably keep for myself, though, since it's such a handy little thing and I rather like the style of it.

Then Rei and I paid a quick visit to the Salvation Army store, where we found not only two small twiggy-looking star decorations (perfect for the pagan home), but also a rug hooking kit for $3. I've been wanting to learn how to hook rugs for a while now, but have been reluctant to pay $20 for a small kit at a normal retail store or craft store. This one came with a very small part of it already done, and no instructions, but all the materials are there and I can find basic instructions online, and for $3, it's a good investment so that I can learn and master how to do it in order to do more complex ones later on.

Add all that to the embroidery floss and Aida cloth that I dug out today in order to start making winter holiday cards, and that leads to one happy crafty me!

I'm sure I'll end up taking pictures of most of these things, too, once they're all finished, so I can show everyone what I mean. Besides, this journal needs more crafty content!


Sep. 27th, 2010 12:26 pm
sarasvati: Greyscale image of Sae, from Hidamari Sketch (happy)
Do you know what the world needs more of? Unconventional greeting cards.

It's true. I can go into any store that sells greeting cards and find 101 cards that wish me a happy birthday or a merry Christmas or congratulations on graduating or commiserations on the death of my grandfather. What I can't find are cards that I'm actually looking for. If I want a card, I usually have to either make them myself or settle for some generic thing that doesn't express properly what I want it to say.

Then there are the annoying gender-specific cards. For children, males get the cards with Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels, and girls get My Little Pony and Barbie. And given that they all use gender signs on the cards ("Barbie wishes you a happy birthday, little girl!"), what is one supposed to do when they have a four years old girl who loves playing with cars rather than playing dress-up in princess clothes? Adults don't fare much better. For women, there are time-honoured jokes about shopping sprees and lying about age, and men gets hot ladies and tools. I saw a birthday card once, intended to be from the father of a girl just turning 18, which made jokes about how the girl always spends way too much of daddy's money on clothes and perfume. Yes, funny, ha ha, but where are the cards for girls who don't fit the norm? Where are the cards for boys who don't fit the norm?

Where are the cards for non-mainstream (in the West, anyway) or non-Christian holidays? I'm not just talking about a card that says Samhain instead of Halloween, or Yule instead of Christmas. What about a simple card that celebrates the fact that the seasons are changing? You can find greeting cards from pets, so long as you have a cat or a dog. Mom has a parrot and you think it'll be great to get her a birthday card from the parrot? Too bad, you're out of luck.

Or how about a card for people who are/were like parents to you without actually being parents? Or the friend who's so close they could be a sibling, but the situation isn't one in which this sentiment is appropriate?

Hell, where are the cards that say, "Cthulhu will devour your soul!" I know a few people who would get the biggest kick out of that!

I can't be the only person who goes looking for greeting cards only to be disappointed by the fact that neither I nor the intended recipient fit the molds that the cards define for us.

So why not make them? Not just for myself, but for others who are looking for something special but can't find it elsewhere? Even traditional sentiments with a unique touch could be appreciated, so that you're not giving everyone the same thing you gave everyone else last year and the year before it.

I may have just found my niche? I have designs in my head for quite a few cards that have printed images on them, or fancy text, but I also have ideas for more artistic cards, like some with little images sewn on the front instead, or more abstract one incorporating different art styles. I'm sure I could sell a few of them at the local craft fair around the winter holidays, and it's possible I might be able to convince a few friends with local businesses to stick up an ad or two for me, too, for more year-round designs.

Time to get out of graph paper and sketchbook and start designing!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
It's a beautiful day outside! It started off chilly, cool enough to really make wearing my new autumn coat feel really good, but it's warmed up a bit to a more comfortable temperature. But underneath the warmth, there's still that bite of autumn's chill on the breeze. It makes me feel refreshed, and makes me want to get in the kitchen and cook all sorts of delicious things.

Which is exactly why I went out and bought another bag of beans today, and a ham steak. I wanted to get bacon, but the store only had Ready Crisp bacon, and that wouldn't work very well with the beans, so I settled on the ham. It was a good price, and will add some tasty flavour to tomorrow's bean supper.

I love that Rei likes the beans that I make. They're incredibly cheap ($1.28 per pound of white navy beans), filling, and tasty. A pot of them costs less than $5 to make (including the tomato soup and the meat that I usually add), and will usually do us both for two meals. When money's tight, it's hard to get much better than that.

I expect we'll be eating a lot of beans this winter, too. The heating vents in the apartment don't actually go into the kitchen, so if we want to keep that part of the house even tolerably warm, the oven has to be on for a long time. No better way to accomplish that than by making baked beans, unless, of course, I'm also baking bread!

Or baking anything, really, but I do need to get more practice with my bread recipes, so this winter will be a great chance. Helps to warm the apartment and keep us fed!

I've been feeling the urge to do some embroidery again lately. I've got a half-finished cross-stitch butterfly pattern that I need to find and get back to, since it'll be a Christmas present for Rei's aunt this year, but until I can be arsed to find it, I'll work on a needlepoint kit that my mother got me ages ago but I have yet to do more than just look at. I haven't done needlepoint before, but it looks simple enough, and I can't imagine I'll have too many problems with it. My only complaint is that I don't like the stiff canvas that it's done on. I much prefer the pliability of Aida cloth or evenweave fabric rather than something that feels all plasticky without being actual stiff plastic canvas. I'm one of those people for whom textures can make or break a thing.

But I'll try to get used to it, since I like the pattern and want to actually complete it some day.

I'm thinking of doing some cross-stitch Christmas/Yule cards this year, too. I like making my own cards, and doing so can keep me amused for hours. Drawing, painting, stitching, you name it. I haven't made too many, mostly owing to the fact that I keep forgetting about such things until it's too late, but maybe this year I'll try to get a head start on them. Even if I only make a few embroidered cards and paint the rest, that'll be something.

That's another thing that fall weather does to me! It gives me a great burst of creativity!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I've been doing a lot of cross-stitch again these past few days, which has made me start thinking back to when I first learned this incredibly addictive for of embroidery.

I don't remember how old I was when it happened, but I know I learnt it when my mother was going through one of her obsessive phases of crafting. She would cross-stitch for hours in front of the television, and eventually I decided I wanted to learn to. So she taught me, and unlike her efforts to teach me to knit, I actually took to this form of needlework quite quickly. She got me a little cross-stitch kit, and I went to it.

I got pretty good at it. Sure, sometimes I'd make mistakes, but I learned from them and moved on and kept at it. I made no more mistakes than she did, I'm sure, because she taught me how to read the charts properly.

Then came the time where she decided to buy me a big kit when she bought her next kit. I browsed through all the patterns and kits at the store, and finally settled on one that was, if I recall, a pattern of a carousel on black Aida cloth. She bought it for me without question, and said I could start it when I finished the project I was working on at the time. She put it in her closet when she got home, to wait until that time came.

I finished my project, and asked to start on the carousel. She said she was busy, and would get it later.

This kept on for months. Always I'd ask, and always she'd say she'd get it later, she'd get it tomorrow, that I should do something else first.

Finally she told me the truth. She said she had realised only after buying the kit for me that the black Aida cloth would be too hard for me to work with, since it would be more difficult to see the holes to put the needle through. She had given the kit away.

I wasn't devastated. But I was mightily ticked off, and I told her that she should have at least told me that. Besides, I argued, it isn't hard to feel where you are on the fabric, and if you push the needle through a wrong hole at first, you take it out, adjust, and try again. She made some noncommittal noise and went about her business.

It wasn't until much later that I really understood what she meant when she said the kit would be too hard for me. She meant that it would be too hard for her, and that therefore by default must be too hard for me, because I couldn't possibly have greater skills after less practice. She didn't even give me the chance to try before giving away something I was looking forward to.

She had a habit of doing that. She would make things, saying they were for me, and then give them to somebody else. She was working on a complete collection of Cherished Teddies cross-stitch patterns a long time ago, just before I entered my teenage years, and she said she'd give them all to me so that I could decorate my room with them. Even though I wasn't big on teddy bears, I was thrilled that she'd work so long and hard at something, all for me!

Then I discovered that she'd given nearly half of them to a friend-of-the-family's daughter, out of the blue, and that she wasn't going to bother finishing the rest after all.

Like reading, I sometimes marvel that cross-stitch wasn't something that was ruined for me by crummy events in my childhood. I enjoyed it, but she always managed to find some way to ruin it for me. But I've grown up now and still enjoy getting lost in that soothing pattern of stitches, watching the design unfold piece by little piece, being able to sit back after only an hour and see a measurable difference in what I was working on. It's calming, it's pleasing, and I love it. I have the skills to tackle difficult patterns, and I have the skills to design my own patterns to boot. But it would have been so easy to get lost in the disappointment felt in other situations relating to it, squashing any enjoyment I could have gained.

Instead of it being squashed, it thrives. So much so, in fact, that merely talking about it makes me want to go back to stitching instead of spending the evening with a book.


sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)

August 2011

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