Sunday, August 21, 2011

Seeking Interior Design Help!

There is a terrific blog called Common Ground that has offered to give advice for those difficult design challenges and their challenged owners.

Boy,  do I need their  help!

I have a very unique space in our home that I cannot figure out how to even begin making it functional and inviting.

The home was custom built by someone else in 1985.  I've been told it is fashioned after what is called an envelope design. 

As a result the front of the house is actually an enclosed porch that runs the length on both levels.

The porch has large rooms on each end with a narrow walkway in-between the rooms and there are windows everywhere! 

The house is in Minnesota and has a very up northwards look.  The front of the house gently slopes down to a beautiful river allowing you to have great views from this porch.

Here are the issue.  By design, this area insulates the main living areas of the house from the extreme Minnesota seasons. In the heat of the summer or the extreme cold of the winter, quilted shades can be lowered to keep out the heat or keep in the heat.
That said, these rooms are fantastic to be in when the weather is cooperating, but impossible to be in when it's not.

There are extremely tall vaulted ceilings and as I said before large windows everywhere.

The end "room" of the porch in the picture above has a sliding glass door to our master bedroom suite.  I've added a small coffee bar, refridge, microwave, and bottled water at that end to make a small kitchenette off the bedroom.  I like that area.  Above is a picture.  Although, I have to admit the air conditioner is an eyesore.

The design challenge begins with the length hall is in front of 4 large windows and the room at the other end of the porch.  The two wooden rocking chairs are getting ruined from being in the sun and heat.

What can I do to make this more inviting and up to date?  There are two shuttered windows in this room that look into my husband's office. 

I would like love to be able to sit comfortably and take in the great view. As you can see the windows sit table height so seating needs to be fairly high on the other side of the room so that you can see down at the river vs just the sky.

The yellow couch as seen it's better days.  I'd be happy to recover it given some advice on style and color.  The wicker could easily go or be spray painted, but it's not very comfortable.

I guess given the great room of the house and master bedroom is all cedar, the only thing that I don't want to change is the ceiling and walls.  If you click on my sanctuary post on this blog you can see the interior great room.  My craft studio is in a loft in the great room.

I would love some advice on flooring, curtains (if any, we have no neighbors within view so no need to cover up these great windows), and furniture.

I would love to do an updated rustic like you'd see in Texas, Montana or out east.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wedding Rehearsal Button Bouquets

A new bridal tradition in my family.  

I have made the three most recent brides in my family a button bouquet made in part with their great grandmother's and grandmother's button collection.  Two nieces used them as rehearsal bouquets and then placed the arrangement by the guestbook during the wedding itself.  On the bouquet above I added soldered charms of the bride and groom's pictures and wedding date to the end of ribbons that hung down.

They are easy to make but fairly time consuming.  I loop white floral wire through buttons and twist to hold them stable.  I wrap the wire in floral tape, but don't cut the wire to length until after I have finished arranging the bouquet.  I add white ribbon around the stems to make holding the bouquet feel wonderful.  Adding short lengths of ribbon twisted in the same way as the bottoms to form ribbon leaves and adding some simple crystal flowers really add that bit of glamor to the final product.

This bride asked for as much color as possible and she actually used it as her wedding bouquet.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Found Object Bracelet

Lost object art.  Why is it called that?  
I like to think of it as Found Object Art :-)

Here's one of my favorites.  Garage sale repurposed chains, beautiful vintage buttons, crystals, soldered scrabble pieces (those are fun to keep from burning when you are soldering them!) and one very special piece of my baby's picture done with my first attempt at metal clay and resin! 
I'm said to say that I don't think these pictures really do it 
justice. It sparkles and clatters when I wear it and I just adore it.

Beaded Lariat Style Necklace

A year or so ago, I bought this focal bead from Jeff Barber at Lakeside Art Glass and it's been sitting on my workbench ever since just challenging me to find some design that will honor it's beauty.
I finally brought it with me to the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee in June and found some perfectly matching beads. 

Okay.  Now on my bench a whole new bunch of beads joined Jeff's bead.  Before they could start taunting me, I sat down and just started sewing.  No pattern.  No plan.  

I was inspired by the techniques in Laura McCabe's book Embellished Bead Weaving. I think it's turned out to be one of my favorite necklaces.

The stash comes together!

I used a simple spiral beading pattern for the necklace and sprinkled in a few crystals.  
Jeff your work is stunning!  Only hope I did your bead justice.

Vintage Plate Cake Stand

Another quick and easy gift!

1 inexpensive, garage sale candlestick
1 beautiful plate
Gorilla Glue


The only trick is to center the plate and make sure it's level.
Vintage games litter garage sales and I always snatch them up.  I love them. At first I hesitated to cut them in order to make these journals, but my hoard of boards began to overflow.  I figure with such common games I wasn't really jeopardizing my son's  "I'll sell mom's precious antiques" college fund!

I just cut these into different sizes on a band saw.  I did put a bit of thought into how I cut them so that I got nicest graphics.  I also considered what I wanted on the front and back and made the cuts so I got the front and back oriented correctly.

I taped the sides simply with colored tape from the hardware store.  My preference would have been to use bookbinding tape, but I didn't have any handy.

I took a ream of paper (yes, another garage sale purchase) and my boards to my local print shop and asked the owner to drill the holes for me.  I figure that really saved me a lot of time.  And, she traded me her work for one of the finished notebooks.  Score!  I added notebook rings from the office supply store and my journals are complete.  The rings were actually the most expensive item in this project.  These make great gifts.  My son snatched one up quicker than lightening when my back was turned.  Next thing I knew it was filled with his best Pokemon drawings!

I plan on making a charm bracelet with the game tokens soon, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cool's PAPER!

Look at that swirl!  How fantastic!  I swear I can sit and stare at that all day.  It just draws me in and sort of invokes a relaxing, mesmerizing sensation.  It's just plain fascinating.

Here's the story.  My son came home with a fabulous 3rd grade project.  I thought his version was terrific.  I was even more delighted when he turned to me and said, "I could teach you how to make one." How priceless is that?

We ripped pages from an old colorful magazine (a lot), and began folding, and folding, and folding, and folding...well you get the idea.  We used a metal ruler to fold against which ensured a consistent size for all our strips. My son sort of wandered off at this point...he felt his work was done. 

I challenged myself to make the layers really tight so I wanted a lot of strips.   I used my bone folder to make the edges nice and crisp.  I then sorted them to get the colors the way I liked them.
HERE's the trick...taught to me by my 10 year old!  Take each strip and rub it end to end on the edge of a table until it starts to curl.  By doing that step they curve naturally and it makes it easier to wrap them around each other and make it really easy to get a tight wrap.

I wrapped the first strip around a pencil and kept tightening. I took out the pencil and continued to coax the strip into a really tight coil.  As I wrapped more strips on to the initial coil, I put a bit of glue on each strip, which really worked to keep it tightly wrapped and I think it helps makes the work much more stable and solid after it dries. I wrapped enough strips to make a large coil about the size of a hockey puck (I live in Minnesota and everyone here knows the size of a hockey puck...3 inches).  The bigger you make this base coil the wider the resulting bowl.  My bowls turned out the size of a large cereal bowl.

Once you have the base coil, just start adding strips about 1/8-1/4'' higher with each new layer.  Make sure to specifically glue the ends down completely or they stick out more than you probably want.  It can get fairly tricky to make sure you are wrapping tight and straight so the bowl isn't crooked.  Just make sure you keep turning and stop and look at how the bowl is shaping up from all angles as you add the strips.  Put it on a table and get down eye level and look to make sure it's not leaning one way or the other.

I saved some strips that had cool designs specifically for the top of the bowl.  After the glue in the bowl had dried nicely,  I coated the entire bowl with Modge Podge and it made a great sheen.  I now have a great candy bowl on my office desk that everyone picks up and looks at.

My last secret:  In hotel lobbies there are always colorful tourist magazines highlighting the area attractions and shops.  I made one whole bowl from the pages of three such magazines while sitting pool side watching my son swim the afternoon away.  I saved special pages for the last strips that clearly identified the area featured in the magazines.  Every heard of the Wisconsin Dells? Pretty cool souvenir from a trip huh?

Here's some more pics....Hope you give it a try

Monday, August 1, 2011

Polymer Clay Lightswitch Covers

The main room of our house is cedar from floor to ceiling and has an old west feel. I was tired of glaring old white light switch plate covers which were extremely noticeable against the wood.  I wanted something that blended better in my room and was more decorative, but when I searched Etsy or other web sites the costs ranged from $8 - $14 for designer covers.  I have 10 switches and outlets in my living room, so as the costs added up I started thinking more creatively.

In high school I did some leather tooling and still had my tools.  I thought about doing leather covers, but to be honest, for me Polymer Clay was quicker and more forgiving.  Cheaper too.

Here's what I did:
- Start with 1 oz (1/2 a package) of Raw Sienna colored Sculpey Premo Polymer clay.
- Condition it until soft on a pasta maker.  Using the widest setting on the pasta maker and roll out a piece big enough to cover the plate.
- Use an Exacto knife to cut the opening for the switch and use a straw to poke holes for the screws.
- Put a piece of parchment paper over the top and roll a brayer over the clay gently.  This should be all it takes to adhere the clay to the switch plate cover.  The parchment paper allowed me to easily smooth the sides.
- Cut off the excess clay around the edges.

I hunted around the Internet for some leather tooling patterns and found several I liked.  I even took bits and pieces from different patterns and made a unique design for my pieces.  I used a pencil to trace the pattern onto the clay.  The leather tools worked great on the clay.  Mine didn't stick, but if they had I would have sprinkled a bit of water on the clay.

There are several good video tutorials on youtube to show you how to use leather carving tools.  Tandy offers a number of them. I found that I could also use normal clay sculpting  tools to smooth out any areas of imperfection.  Bake as instructed on the clay package.  Enjoy! (I stole that from Julia Child since this was beginning to sound like a recipe.)