Archive for April, 2010

* herb garden markers

Posted on April 30th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Fun with Lab Supplies, Home and Garden.

For the new herb garden, a set of markers.  They’re wooden tongue depressors from lab, stamped with a pigment ink (all ingredients I already had on hand, I’m happy to say).  A test stick immersed in water didn’t run, so I’m crossing my fingers they’ll hold up to the elements.  Plan B is outdoor Mod Podge, but a test with that did make the ink run.  It’s possible I didn’t wait long enough for it to dry, though.



* herb bed

Posted on April 29th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

Mark built another raised bed, this one half the size of the other one.  I’m going to plant herbs in it.  It sounds like some of them are kind of invasive, so it seems like a good idea to give them a separate bed.  Here it is next to its neighbor.


You can see some of my sprouts growing in the vegetable bed.  The radishes are the cutest.


My fennel sprouts are happily growing away behind them.  I think there’s also a weed back far right, but I haven’t decided yet.  Also growing: peas (so big it’s time to thin them and build a trellis!), beets, lettuce mix (need to thin those too), and mustard.  My indoor starts are all starting nicely too, and the window box nasturtiums grew like 6 inches while I was away last weekend.


* Stitch backissues

Posted on April 28th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.

I was able to get the first wonderful issue of Stitch at a local bookstore (and even made something from it), but I’ve been unable to find any of the other issues.  I finally just gave in and bought them off their website.  They are pricey, costing more than most books I buy, but after seeing all the posts all over blogland, I think it’s worth it.  They just came in the mail and look delicious.



* window redo

Posted on April 17th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

My first attempt at using fabric and starch on a window was a little rough.  Here’s take two, which worked much better.  Modifications: lighter weight fabric with less stretch (a $2.99/yard lightweight cotton from Joanns), a geometric design for easy even cutting, and a lighter starch solution in a baking pan for easier soaking.  The result definitely looks better and lets in more light, and they went up super quick.


The design is a little too small to make a big impact, but up close it looks great.


ETA: thanks to a commenter for reminding me to talk about removing the previous pieces of fabric.  This was really easy.  I scratched up one corner and pulled the whole thing off in one piece.  The starch rinsed right out of the fabric.  There was a film of starch left on the window, but it came off easily with water and a damp sponge.  I found the scratchy side of the sponge was useful for removing the bigger patches, which would then wipe right off with the spongy side.  A last spritz with window cleaner and they looked good as new.


* start tubes

Posted on April 14th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

Grow Great Grub has an idea for simple seed starts in cardboard tubes.  I collected toilet paper and paper towel tubes (cut in half) since I saw the idea, and here they are all filled up.  You tie a little group together for some stability, and then just fill it with dirt.  No closing of the bottoms is required.  The dirt stays in fine.  I am very pleased with myself for thinking of (or rather, remembering that Martha Stewart thought of) using a cut off juice bottle top for a dirt funnel.  The wide-mouth juice bottles fit exactly perfectly into the tubes.


The idea is that you can just transplant the whole tube and it breaks down pretty readily.

I’m a little late with the starts, but I’ve got eggplant, poblano peppers, pattypan squash, lemon cucumbers, normal cucumbers, yellow pear tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkin.


* ugly quilt near miss

Posted on April 11th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

My friend Becket is having another baby soon, so I’ve been working on a baby quilt (previous baby quilt+instructions).  The other day she posted this picture of carpet samples for the kids’ room redecoration:


Here’s what my crazy brain did: carpet blocks…they look like quilt blocks…a carpet-themed baby quilt!  It would be greens and browns and the squares would all have different textures.  Babies like feeling different textures, right?  And it turns out I have quite a few fabrics that fit this theme.  Some time while I was cutting them into tiny squares, I realized that I was making the Ugliest Baby Quilt Ever.


I’m happy to say that the next version is much nicer (and I’ll post it once I mail it off).

But the question remains: what to do with these guys?


* tissue box cover

Posted on April 10th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

Becket got me a pretty tissue box cover off Etsy a while back, and I had been using it in my office.  Unfortunately, they changed the brand of tissue we use and the new boxes won’t fit.  I used kirin’s tutorial to make a new custom-sized one.  It has a nice Japanese-craft-book quality to it.  And it’s reversible!  The fabrics are a vintage linen I got from the apparently now defunct Make Me Fabrics (see previous use covering a cork board) and a Denyse Schmidt pattern (not shown, but it’s the gray one with the orange flowers).  Elastic is a hairtie that was stretched out and buttons are from the Great Philadelphia Button Score of 2007.  The only addition I made to the pattern was to clip all the corners before turning to keep them clean.  Even then, the quilting-weight side pulls a little.  I’m also tempted to go back and top-stitch the edges and along the fold lines, but I’m pretty happy with it as is.


My little planning drawing for some “process.”  For some reason I think it’s funny that I like to draw on graph papers, but I rarely use the grid :P



* necklace bits

Posted on April 5th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Jewelry.

This is barely a craft, but I did have to drill a hole in the block of wood, so close enough.  New necklaces, one a felt washer I found at the hardware store, and the other a small block of wood from the craft store, strung on waxed linen.


The idea for the wood block one was partly prompted by A Small Collection (e.g. this necklace) and my previous experiments with Dremel+wood jewerly.  I thought about staining it, but I kind of like it au naturale.  Piece of advice for Dremel-ing through a piece this thick: drill ~2/3 through with a big bit, then punch through to the other side with a smaller bit.  Flip over and use the big bit again using the guide from the small bit.  It made it look nice on both sides, and my poor Dremel was unhappy about going more than 2/3 through at a go.


* second impression with L Letterpress

Posted on April 4th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Gocco/L Letterpress.

I am a sucker and ordered another set of plates and some ink for my new faux-letterpress.  Given the cracking problems, I figured I should probably work out the kinks using the plates I already have before the new ones get here (supposedly 6-8 weeks, argh! At least I hope it’s that “fast” given the 4 months delay with the main order).

My mom naturally should get the first card made with it since her birthday is tomorrow, but I am afraid it didn’t turn out nice enough to actually send.  I had the exact same problems Boxcar press identified: the brayer was totally uneven and the plates are practically impossible to ink without getting smudges on the mount or the edges of the print plate.  I also could not get the “repositionable” adhesive to work.  Every time I would pry up a plate, the adhesive stuck to the mount.  I think the most disappointing flaw, though, is that the edge around the print plate also impresses.

Also, I went from small-cracks-around-the-edges to big-cracks-that-make-the-plate-not-print-right.  You can actually watch them degrade with each print; I did the third starburst, then the center one, then the first in the row.  I can’t believe they’re shipping such low quality stuff.  And I can’t believe I am so stupid as to buy another set from them, but I did because it is definitely fun to play with and I still have dreams of lovely letterpress. :P



* L Letterpress test

Posted on April 3rd, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review, Gocco/L Letterpress.

My mother got me an L Letterpress for Christmas (see previous post)!  It only just finally arrived yesterday, even though she ordered it in early December.  The presser machine bit can also be used as a die cutter, so now I am perilously close to starting to look at scrapbooking blogs for ideas of what in the world to use that functionality for.

Here’s my first impression (har har).


I haven’t bothered to ink it up yet since I’m not super thrilled with the pack of designs it came with and you supposedly also need special ink cleanup wipes.  The circle was in fact cut with the dies.  The company blog has some quite good sample projects and tips.

It’s all very easy.  You essentially sandwich various things between presser sheets and then crank the stack through the machine.  I thought I was going to break it the first time I did it with the letterpress ones.  There’s definitely some resistance.  The result to my eye definitely looks more “embossed” than press-printed, though better paper will no doubt help.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially for a home craft device, but my expectations were perhaps excessively raised by the “letterpress” branding.  A real letterpress artisan has gone step by step through how to adjust it to give better prints, so I am hopeful I can make it work.

Even worse, though, my plates cracked around the edges on the first pass through.  Annoying, right?  I must have a defective one.  Apparently, though, lots of people are having this problem.  WTF?  I find it hard to recommend a product when it breaks right out of the box.

Looks like for $40 they’ll make custom designs for you, but it’s probably from the same crappy plastic (ETA: admin post in the forums claims this is not the case, and they’re made from better stuff).  Apparently other places are doing a better job for cheaper, though.  I think for now, I will order a set of the premade ones just so I will have something to play with immediately, and wait for the inspiration to hit for a custom order.


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