Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sushi Containers

No photo today...just a quick story on how I got some plastic containers for the felt sushi that I am making for a little girl's birthday.  The sushi is coming along just fine, in fact, and I should have a post up in a few days showing all of the completed pieces.  My biggest dilemma was where to procure a plastic sushi display box.  

I considered going to the United Noodles market, the largest Asian grocery store in the mid-west (or so it claims).  That one's in Minneapolis, but there's an Asian market closer to my house in St. Paul called Dragon Star.  I just haven't been able to get to either store and the birthday party is on Sunday.

So, yesterday, I stopped at Whole Foods for lunch and there was a special on the cucumber-avocado roll at the sushi counter.  I started to think that I could just wash out the container, you know, and go with that.  However, the container was compostable (read: unwashable) and the plastic containers were all filled with icky raw fishes and I did not want to buy one just to throw out all of the contents.

The sushi maker was behind the counter and said hello to me, so I then asked him where to find these plastic containers.  I couldn't hear him very well through the thick prison-like partition, but he seemed to say that I could find them in Chicago.  I looked disappointed and told him that I needed a container to display felt sushi.  

"I have a present for you," he said, and disappeared.  So I hung around and contemplated how delicious it would be to eat a steamed bbq pork filled dumpling...if I still ate pork.  He showed back up a few minutes later and produced a stack of container bottoms.  This stack was still wrapped in plastic and there were probably 50 or so containers.  I thanked him profusely, but told him I only needed one.  He kept pushing them on me, but eventually understood and gave me five  plastic bottoms.  I also managed to get five tops out of him all for free!

Yay!  So I am 87% done with my felt sushi (I am working on an octopus one and I think I should do another California roll or something like that) and it looks awesome in its little container thus far.

Also, I made a salmon roe sushi and I'm going to try my very own tutorial for how to do it, but that will take some time.  It's pretty adorable.  Pictures to come soon!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Retiring Little Women

As I previously mentioned, my copy of Little Women has seen better days.  The binding is gone and it is being held together by a rubber band.  I ended up buying one of those embroidered copies for my own personal library, so I figured that it was time to retire my old copy.

But what to do with it?  The Goodwill would just chuck it in that bin outside the dropoff zone that is filled with all of their castoffs and I couldn't let that happen, so I've decided to rework it...somehow.  I haven't quite decided what to do with it, though.

I know they make those purses out of covers and then I've also seen bound journals, but I'm not a journal writer and I have a lot of purses.  Maybe I should just frame the cover?  That could work.

But what to do with the interior pages, because there are some pretty nice illustrations...

I could always enlarge them and make a coloring book?  I don't know.  Until I figure this out, I think I'll just put it on the growing pile of future projects.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sculpey Fail

So I had this grand plan to make a clay impression of my kid's hand for her first Christmas.  I bought a white pack of sculpey, some sculpey glitter, and rolled out that clay.  Of course, she resisted any attempts I made at pressing her chubby little hand into the clay, so I only managed a thumbprint or something.

So I balled it up, put it in a plastic baggie, and was ready to put it away for another time when I remembered these little Japanese veggie/cookie cutters I picked up in Japan ten or so years ago.  It's pretty hard to get a decent picture of them, but here's the outside of the box with classic Japanese-English:
So I re-rolled the clay and cut out little flower shapes.  I sprinkled on the glitter and poked a hole in the top of them with a bamboo skewer and then followed the baking directions.

Here are some results:

So they'll either hang on the tree next year or I'll use a paint pen and use them as gift tags.  Who knows?

In the meantime, I would still like an impression of my gal's little hand...maybe for her first birthday? I really should research that.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recreate Art: Final Product

I finally finished my Josef Albers wall hanging for the Davis Collection, a private art collection of famous pieces recreated by their friends.  
I suppose I should have done a better job of ironing it.  If I were a professional blogger, I would have done so, but it was just going to get shoved in an envelope and squished by the post office.

Anyway, in case you forgot...the original piece looks like this:
Pretty close, right?  That blue square in the middle should have been darker, but I guess what I made still works.

I used these little plastic potholder loops to assist with the installation of my piece (that's what we in the artsty fartsy world say when we want to hang it on a wall).  I also kept the binding the same color as that outer layer to not disrupt the narrative of my piece.
I also had to give a blurb about my piece.  My husband is the wordsmith of the household, so I enlisted his help.  I wanted him to write something fancy pants, like what you see in art galleries. This is what he came up with:
A dazzling debut in the realm of art reproduction, Rachel's "'Blue Squares'" displays the artist's gift at recontextualizing narrative.  At once modernist and anti-modernist, "'Blue Squares'" teases the borders of the reproduction paradigm while hinting at depths beneath its impermeable surfaces.  Rachel shatters the gestalt of the work before reassembling it with neo-futurist overtones, a signature motif.  She severs the connecting tissue to her antecedents while simultaneously honoring them, probing both memory and the collective unconscious.  The layering of the seemingly disparate elements, suggesting epater le bourgeoisie while eschewing the easy embrace, offers the thrill of the transgressive but only as whispered vulgarity.  Reflecting upon her opus, Rachel mused, "It's just squares, mostly," a winking, seriocomic homage both tautological and not illogical.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I've Got Mail!

A surprise package came today with one very awesome sewing book...
Scrap Saver's Stitchery Book by Sandra Lounsbury Foose (she should work for NPR!) was published in 1978, so you know that there are some fun, retro sewing ideas in there.    I know that I spend a lot of time making fun of these old books with their goofy photos and projects, but I found that I spent most of my time ooooh'ing and aaaaah'ing rather than ridiculing it.  

Here are some must-do projects:
 Barn bag with animals!  These are so cute!  I love that the patterns throughout most of this book are already life size.  The barn, unfortunately, is one of those "one square equals one inch" patterns, but that seemed to be the exception.

And a kraken for my kraken!
 And I'm always drawn to these novelty boot Christmas stockings.  I love that ice skate, though I'd probably attempt to modify it to make a roller derby skate.
Fun!  So thank you, mystery sender!  What a happy surprise in my mail today!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crafty Gifts

It's not yet a month past Christmas, so I think I'm still within the acceptable timeframe for posting about some crafty Christmas gifts that I received from my sisters-in-law.

From Laura I received a kit on making sock monkeys and other sock creatures!  I've been secretly collecting lone socks for just such a project!  
 And then from Liz I received some fun little cupcake buttons.  I must admit, though, I thought they were faces for the longest time.  Seriously, turn your laptop upside down and they look like little faces with blue hats.
 She also sent along this pouch made out of measuring tapes.  Pretty nifty!  And it was filled with all sorts of goodies!
Thank you, ladies!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


 I've stalled in my sushi-making progress, but this is the shrimp that I made a few weeks ago.  I used a pattern from an etsy seller.  I'll have to pick up my felt food-making if I'm to meet the birthday deadline in early February, but then I feel bad for focusing on my neighbor's kid, when I should be finishing up the birthday presents for my niece and nephews...their birthdays were in September (!) and December.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hemmed Curtains

I have this little alcove in my living room with a little bench that opens up.  That's where I keep my Halloween skeleton, which is pretty creepy, I guess, and always reminds me of Arsenic and Old Lace.
So after almost two years of living here, I finally got around to finding some curtains.  Of course, the problem with all curtains these days, is that they are super 84" long.  So I had to hem them, which is stressful, because you have to measure and add length for a hem and then you need to fold them all precisely in order to get the bottoms to align.  It is so much easier to put sleeves in, than it is for me to hem curtains.  Anyway, I found some that I liked at Pier1 on super sale...
I need to get something to provide some support to the middle of the curtain rod and I also need to find something better to use as a tieback instead of bias tape, but this works for now.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Serger Progress

It is out of the box and on my sewing table...covered in fabric.  Oh well.  At least I have acknowledged its existence.  When I was pregnant and swollen, I was using the box (with serger inside) to elevate my feet.

Friday, January 11, 2013

More Books

 I seem to have a growing collection of odd craft books from the 1970's or 1980's.  Here are my most recent acquisitions:
Better Homes and Gardens:  Patchwork and Quilting
26 Lively Letters: Making an ABC Quiet Book by Barbara Williams and Carol Grundmann
The patchwork book is filled with classic 70's projects, as it should be, given that it was published in 1977.  I found the following window decor to be quite hideous:
Why would you do that to yourself?  So awful.

But I was drawn to two applique quilts, one with butterflies and one with wildflowers.
Of course, getting the time and energy to convert those graph paper applique patterns to real size patterns will never happen, so I will just have to gaze longingly at these photos.

As for the book on making an ABC quiet book, that one was also published in 1977.  It has some good ideas:
A is for Airplane
But then it has these three terrifying ideas.
E is for Earring
N is for Nose
M is for Mirror
So ugly and weird!  Especially the one with the witch's nose!  And then the googly-eyed one is horrible.

I do have it in my head to make a quiet book and this does have some good ideas, but I think the problem here is that anything with a face is quite terrifying.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Recreate Art: Behind Schedule

I'm a procrastinator.  Always have been.  Always will be.

That being said, I'm behind schedule with my Recreate Art piece that I mentioned back in...June.


I suck.

The good news...I am almost done.  I just have the quilt binding to finish, so that will probably be completed tonight during Project Runway.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Trim-trim-er-ee, Trim-trim-er-ee

I found these three trims at Treadle Yard Goods when I went in for some fabric.  I bought a yard of each at $1.65 per yard.  Pretty fun stuff.  Look at the little witches!  I have absolutely no use for these whatsoever at this point, but they were too cute and who knows if I will ever see them  sold again?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fabric Thrifting

Here's a batch of fabric from two or three recent thrifting adventures.
The top one is very heavy, so perhaps a nice poncho for the kiddo?  The Christmas fabric will be turned into gift bags.  Then there was the nutsoid purchase:  two separate things of Vikings fabric.  I thought my husband would be super pleased, because I could make him pajama bottoms or something, but he wants nothing to do with this fabric.  Boo.  Though he did suggest that I use some for when I make the I Spy quilt for our little girl.  Next up was some ugly floral.  I don't know why I keep buying ugly florals.  I have an addiction.  And then there's the final bit of yardage...purple!  There's a lot of this, too...maybe four or five yards? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I got inspired by a $50.00 set of wooden sushi, so I thought I would make some out of felt.  It seemed like a good idea to break me into the business of felt food construction.  Plus I have a birthday for a little girl coming up and she loves sushi, especially avocado-shrimp rolls, so I'll be sure to make one of those.  

But I started with an easy carrot roll and then I moved onto a California roll.
Most of the images I found online were made with a black felt for the seaweed.  I went with a forest green, because that makes more sense to me.  I used pinking shears on the rice to give it a rice look and then my favorite part...
Black sesame seeds!  I just stitched some onto the last strip of white with the full number of embroidery threads.  So cute!  

I ordered a pattern off of etsy for the non-rolled sushi, because I didn't feel like thinking too much about that if someone had already done the work for me.  I want to go to an Asian food store and pick up some empty plastic sushi containers to display this.