Archive for the ‘Experiments’ Category

* colorform jar labels

Posted on March 13th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Experiments, Home and Garden.

My pretty Weck jars have one issue I haven’t been able to figure out: how to label them.  With the normal jars, the metal lids are single use, so sticking labels on them or writing on them is fine.  I don’t want to deal with picking labels off the glass lids, though.  The Weck boards on Pinterest are a good source of ideas.  It looks like most people live with stickers or tie tags around the neck.  Some sort of easily removable sticker would work best for me.  Apparently, they make water soluble labels for canning, but they seem to all have terrible reviews.

I ended up trying two adhesive solutions: cling vinyl and a 3M reusable sticky mounting thing.  For the 3M stickies, I cut out a little rectangle of ink jet-printable, waterproof, map paper for the label side.  It stuck well initially, but came lose in the fridge.  The ones I got are pretty thick, and rectangular, so they only work well on the straight-sided jars anyway.  So that experiment was a bust.

I’m more excited about the home made colorforms.  I found 4 gauge vinyl at Joann’s and attempted to die-cut it into circles.  Like most everything else about my L Letterpress, the die-cutting is also terrible, so I ended up just cutting them out.  The good news is that even the cheap-y decorative edge scissors worked great on the vinyl, so I was able to make some cute scalloped ones.  You can draw on the vinyl with Sharpies.  The darker colors work best (red, for example, is almost invisible against orange marmalade, which is why these were not photographed on the jars), and I am going to look for white vinyl for future use.  They stick to the jar lids pretty securely, though I’m monitoring their staying power.  They turned out just how I imagined, more or less, so I’m reasonably happy with the results.

By the way, the “several citrus marmalade” was an invention using the leftovers from the cara cara meyer lemon marm plus grapefruit and kumquat.  I used the full sugar pectin this time, and it didn’t really set for some reason.  I was going to try to reprocess it, but it turns out to be a great glaze for marmalade muffins.


* peas planted on Presidents’ Day

Posted on February 20th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Experiments, Home and Garden.

As is traditional, I planted peas today.  Two varieties: Alaska Early Bush and Oregon Sugar Pod.  I’m trying a trick I read about somewhere (if this rings a bell, let me know.  It’s driving me crazy that I can’t remember where I saw it.): starting seeds in seedling mix outdoors to help germination.  The idea is that the light fluffy seedling mix is the best environment for starting the seed, but you still get to direct sow outdoors.  The best of both worlds!

First I dug a trench.  This bed has terrible clay soil that I’ve been working to amend.  I grew a cover crop there over the winter, and we dug that in a couple of weeks ago.  I’m hoping the peas will also give it a boost.  Anyway, I filled the trench with compost mixed with some of the dirt and very lightly firmed it.  Then I took a 2 inch pot and pressed it in to the soil every 6 inches.  Closer than that, and my previous hole would cave in as I made the next one.  Once the pot was all the way into the soil, I firmed up around the edges to ensure it would be structurally sound.  Here they all are.

Then I filled each hole with seed starter mix and planted the peas.  Cute, right?  Seed starter mix costs a fortune for some reason, so I wanted to do an experiment to see if this method actually helps.  I planted more peas in between, just in the compost.  Now we race!


* encaustic ornaments

Posted on November 24th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Experiments, Holiday.

I had this brilliant idea to use my new-found encaustics skillz to make Christmas tree ornaments using wood cutouts from the craft store.  I should have known to abandon the project as soon as my torch refused to light.  Instead I had the bright idea of fusing the wax layers in a low temperature oven.  Not recommended.  This is what happened to some wax sheet cutouts I layered:


A cutout from a doily worked a little better, but had no contrast.


I was really excited about this idea, so particularly disappointed when it didn’t really work: paper snowflakes cut out from tissue paper and layered over one another.  The wax gives tissue paper a translucency that’s really pretty.  Unfortunately, the other layer completely disappeared.


Ah well.  I think I might play it safe and just find a pattern to make.


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* giant friendship bracelet

Posted on May 31st, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Experiments, Jewelry.

I found this “big friendship band” on Pinterest and was instantly struck with a mania to make one.  The original is only $20 and is sourced by a fair trade group in Bangladesh, so I feel a little bit bad about stealing their idea.  Looking around, there are several other examples of giant friendship bracelets (a rug! genius!)

I had a pack of 4.8 mm piping cord for who knows what forgotten purpose.  I cut it into 4 2.5 yard lengths, tied the ends together, and got to it.  The muscle memory on this is strong.  I didn’t even have to look up the knot, and it’s been probably 15 years at least since I made one.  It went super fast.


The resulting item is about 15 inches long (not including the tails) and looks completely ridiculous as a bracelet (this is the back, btw).


I’m thinking I might be able to use it as a handle for a bag or something.


* granny experiments

Posted on May 30th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crochet, Experiments, Martha.

I whipped up a couple of test squares for a baby blanket project I’m contemplating.  Lion Cotton on sale in Natural, Seaspray, and Paprika.  Left side a G hook and right side an I, which was definitely easier to wrangle.  I don’t know how they expect you to use the F hook recommended on the package.  I also added an extra round of Natural on the right.


The pattern on the left is from the Martha Stewart directions, from which I first learned to crochet lo these many years ago.  In fact, the (inverted) color scheme is from a project in the same article, which I was reminded of after someone pinned this photo on Pinterest.


I still have a couple of tiny thread grannies I crocheted before I lost interest.  Wonder what else I could do with them?

I also consulted the instructions from Purl and kind of used a consensus pattern for the version on the right.  Variables tested (left vs right): turn between rounds, don’t turn; no chain between clusters, chain 1 between clusters.  Not a huge difference, but I think I’m going to stick with the version on the right.

Attic24 has a nice tutorial for joining squares as you go.  Finishing is my baby blanket Achilles heel, so this is very appealing.


* loom flowers

Posted on March 4th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review, Experiments.

Home sick for two days and working my way through the backlog on the Tivo since I dispatched all my Law and Order reruns yesterday.  I found a cache of Knit and Crochet Today episodes from January that I had never gotten around to watching.  One was on using flower looms (to make a truly hideous scarf).  It reminded me that I got a set of looms at a garage sale last year and never gave it a try (typical).

Cathy of California also has a good tutorial.

The first one, using hemp string and a small loom, came out way too country-cute for my taste.  This is not helped by the button, but I needed to cover up my uneven stitches holding everything together.


The second one, of kitchen twine and thread on a large loom with a small inner ring of pegs, is a little more interesting.  But still very very home ec.


Oh well.  They are quick to do at least.


* crochet edging on paper experiment

Posted on January 31st, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crochet, Experiments.

This wonderful valentine of sorts by A Foothill Home Companion got me wanting to crochet the edge of something.


Searching around for ideas also brought up these cute tags from etsy seller sosorosey.


I decided to crochet a frame for a little Jen Corace print I bought a while back.  I don’t want to mess it up, so I did a test first on cardstock.  First I tried punching holes with a tiny hole punch, but it looked terrible.  Maybe with bigger yarn it would work.

I ended up using this tutorial for edging pillowcases by You Go Girl.  The key is to blanket stitch around the edge first, through holes I pre-stabbed with a big needle.  I also tried chain-stitching, using a tiny hook to pull the loop through the card and a bigger hook to do the rest, but that was maddening and I had a hard time keeping it all even.

Once I decided on a pattern and a basic approach, I had the bright idea that I could use the test swatch as a bookmark so I should make it pretty by fusing a piece of fabric to the cardstock.  This also conveniently covered up my measurement marks to guide the hole-punching.  They’re punched a quarter inch from the edge, a half inch apart, which actually works quite well with the pattern.  I used plain cotton 6 strand embroidery thread, and a 2.35 mm hook.


OK, not bad, but a few things went wrong here.  Miscalculation #1 is that I always forget how much thread crochet uses, so I ran out.  Miscalculation #2 is the blanket stitch “stems” go a little too far into the interior for my taste, which serves to emphasize how uneven they are.  I think the paper would be plenty strong to go just 1/8 inch from the edge.  Miscalculation #3, the corners.  The way the waves work, every other hole is worked as a shell, alternating with single crochets.  I also used the shell to turn the corner.  That means there needs to be an odd number of spaces between corners.  Whoops.  I also should have thrown in a couple of chains to help it lay flat around the corner.

So the bookmark didn’t work, but it was a good learning experience and I can tell it will eventually work.  I think I may play with some other borders before I hit the real thing.


* tape drawing

Posted on January 19th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Art, Experiments.

We’ve got a plain Jane Ikea cabinet in the living room.  One side is a door and the other side has shelves.  I’ve been trying to come up with a decoration to liven it up.  I initially looked at wall stickers, but nothing was quite what I had in mind.  I was mainly looking at geometric patterns, and the idea hit to draw something myself using the Japanese masking tape Becket got me for my birthday.  After looking for masking tape art on the internet, I wasn’t finding anything easy to imitate.

Enter inspiration: I just recently came across Anika Mari‘s artwork. I especially like her neat gem/crystalline/geometric sketches (apparently her dad’s a geologist!)


Her watercolors are pretty great too.

This one is the one that got me to try something out myself.  I made the concentric angular rings, and then connected the nodes.


Hmm, looks pretty amateur.  As you can tell, the couch is right next to it, so you could see every little piece and where the ends overlapped.

I think the idea could work, but I ended up finding a good enough wall sticker instead.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.


* printed fabric vs iron on

Posted on August 30th, 2009 by maitreya. Filed under Experiments, Toys (cat and kid).

For anyone else thinking of making print-out dolls like the ones in Parasol craft or my last post, I thought I’d post a little comparison of Bubble-jet-set vs iron on. I made two dolls using the exact same pattern and fabrics, but the left one was printed directly on bubble-jet-set-treated fabric, and the one on the right was ironed on to the fabric.  For both, the backing fabric was a patterned cotton (the instructions come with a printable backing pattern that matches the dresses, but I didn’t have enough iron ons or treated fabric to use it).


Bubble Jet set iron-on
finish matte shiny
feel soft plasticy
ease of sewing easy slightly tricky (especially by hand)
color washed out saturated
stuffing more uniformly plump seems lumpier
seam allowances be more generous stronger and narrower, but stiffer
technical difficulties printer might jam easy to iron on unevenly

I think the slight advantage goes to the iron ons for this project. I kind of like the plastic finish; they seem like vinyl toys or something. The color saturation is also really obviously superior for the iron-on.

I think it’s a toss up which one will stand up better to real life child use. The iron on will eventually crack, no doubt, but I don’t know if the bubble-jet-set will fade or bleed over time.

I would be willing to bet that digitally printed fabric wins hands down, though, (for doll patterns you designed yourself, anyway).  True Up has a great comparison of the quality of the different services available


* bad Jamie

Posted on August 29th, 2009 by maitreya. Filed under Experiments, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

One reason the doll patterns in Parasol were so appealing is that I’ve been working on another printed doll project on and off for the last couple of weeks.  The idea sounded ok at the time: my friend Becket‘s daughter just turned 2.  She loves the family kitty, Jamie, but Jamie does not feel the same way about her.  So I was going to make her a Jamie doll she could manhandle as much as her little heart desired.  The idea is modeled after these pillows on Craftster (sadly, the pictures have disappeared, but trust me, they were awesome) and this cat stuffy by Wisecraft.

Perfect opportunity to try out the Bubble-Set-Jet I bought a while back.  I had even gone so far as to presoak some muslin panels, so it was printer-ready.  Here’s where the plan started to go awry: instead of asking Becket for her best high-res picture of Jamie, I wanted it to stay a surprise and downloaded a picture off her blog instead.  Then I erased the background in a graphics program and printed him out as big as my large-scale printer could do, which was close to life size.  (One cute tip for running fabric through the printer: stick sheets of printable labels to back the fabric so it feeds smoothly through the printer.  I’ve also ironed on to freezer paper, but didn’t have any around.)



After sewing around him (backing was the background fabric in the photo, a nice corduroy I got in Australia a few years ago), he looked really bad, though.  It’s partly because I didn’t leave enough seam allowance, and I should’ve made him rounder instead of following the profile.  But I think the main problem is the photo is too pixelated and low contrast and not a good profile.  Mark’s first reaction was “where’s his head?  He just looks like a gray blob.



OK, well, lesson learned.  Off to plan B.

fwiw, I was pretty happy with how well the Bubble-Jet-Set worked.  Very little ink washed out, and there was no obvious bleeding.


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craftlog is under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license. That means that you are all welcome to take and repost my photos, replicate my projects, remix my ideas, whatever you want as long as you give attribution (a link is fine) and it's noncommercial. Thanks!