Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wired Glass Jars & Bottles

I love glass jars and bottles.

When we got married - 24 years ago, I convinced my hubby that we should start a collection of art glass pieces. We got a few nice glass pieces for our wedding but that's about where the collection stopped! Once children and bills start taking over, there's not a lot left to spend on expensive hand-blown glass!

So, how have I managed to fulfil my passion for glass collecting??

Recycling glass jars of course!

One day, at a homewares store, I noticed they had cute glass jars with wire handles - that cost A BOMB! It was then that I decided I would rinse out and take the labels off all the cute and interestingly shaped glass jars from food products we used at home. I keep a bottle of this label remover under my kitchen sink just in case I come across a nice bottle I want to recycle.

Sometimes I would buy a certain product at the supermarket just to get the jar it was in! My favorite jars and bottles are - essence bottles, pasta sauce jars, embossed jars, cordial bottles, mustard jars, and antipasti jars.

These ones usually have great shapes and interesting patterns embossed on the glass.

I have added wire collars and handles to hundreds of jars and bottles with these easy steps:

1. Cut a piece of wire twice the length of the top of your jar.
2. Make a loop at one end.
3. Make 2 more loops at the 1/2 and 3/4 points along the length of the wire. These will be the loops for the handle to hook on.
4. Thread the end of the wire through the first loop and tighten the wire around the top of the bottle. Bend the end back so the collar is now secure. Cut the excess wire.
5. Give the 2 handle loops an extra twist with the pliers to tighten the wire collar.
6. Cut another piece of wire for the handle and thread through the handle loops. Bend wire back to secure the handle in place.

I have built up a great collection that I've used to decorate many functions.
I've also added hooks to some of the handles so that the jars can be hung if needed.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

A Giant Wire Chandelier

I've been working on some decorations for a wedding that is being held at a fabulous venue in Sydney called The School and suggested to the client that we make a giant wire chandelier as a decorative feature. She loved the idea, so I decided to make a mini- version as a test and we will be taking it to the venue to see how it can be sized to fit.

It started out as a concept drawing and bit by bit I put it together. Of course, starting with the tools...

Then creatively putting together the different lengths of wire...

I needed to 'tie down' the wire so the struts don't move around the rings. This required an additional short length of wire threaded through the wire loop, and tied down to the ring.

My fingers took a bit of a beating from all the twisting but I was thrilled with the result!

The finished Chandelier - not the easiest thing to photograph!

We will see what works best in the space- either using the wired bottles and jars hanging from the chandelier with sprigs of greenery and flowers, or maybe even covering the whole thing with fresh or even silk flowers.
Whichever way, i think it will make a wonderful happy festive statement!
Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 8, 2012

Corsage Season

Last year, my son was asked to a school formal and aside from all the expenses involved... suit, shirt, transport, cover charge,  (I hate to think what the girls spend on their hair, makeup and outfits....)

there was also the CORSAGE to think about.....

I only had to walk in to one florist to realise that these kids were forking out an unnecessary fortune for a corsage, and so I suggested to my son, that I would make all the corsages for his mates to give their dates.  Not only would I make them, I would make them BETTER than anything I'd seen at the florist.

Some of the corsages I made by hand.

I asked the boys to find out what colours their dates were wearing, and did an assortment of different corsages for them.  They all had a wide satin ribbon to tie on to the wrist so they were totally adjustable.  (We had a 'how to tie on the ribbon' lesson in the kitchen before the boys went to pick up their dates!).

All my corsages had a gorgeous WOW factor - with a bit of drama thrown in with the colour combinations, the addition of feathers, diamantes, pearls, greenery, and floral embellishments.  The girls told me that they were very comfortable to wear due to the quality and width of the satin ribbon that I used.

I've done a lot of work with flowers in decor, arrangements, table settings, and event centerpieces, and now happy to add corsages to that list!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Graduation Event

I've been busy the past few weeks designing and making the decor for a Graduation Event that I'm styling.  I decided to go for a vintage cool classroom theme and have incorporated loads of decor ideas using vintage books and papers.
I collected all sorts of vintage text books including history, physics, music, language, plays, even a 1970 thesaurus.  I try to choose books that have a certain type of paper - quite yellowish, lots of markings and stains, and thick in texture - almost velvety to the touch.
I've used the papers in various ways.
The first idea is to stitch them together to make paper binding - which I have then folded and stitched onto hessian for a centerpiece table overlay.

stitched paper edge binding

binding with mitred corner

finished overlay.

The second style of overlay is made of stitched papers which have been hand stencilled with black gesso, and then taped onto a brown paper backing.  I've folded the edges of the backing paper back over the inlaid section to give it the nice wide edge binding.  Then I stitched all around the edge.

mixed papers including hand stencilled pages.

hard at work!

brown paper backing - with double sided tape to secure paper while stitching.

brown paper folded over the edges to become the binding.

We are having mini blackboards for the table numbers - I was going to use blackboard paint, but discovered that black gesso works well as the blackboard surface - so just painted up a whole load of cardboard and cut to size to fit the frames I sourced.

mini blackboard table numbers.

The centerpieces will be glass hurricane lamps with candles, and they will be standing on a small stack of books that I've covered with brown paper.    Each table will have 3-4 books with the family names of the people at that table printed onto the spines.

covered books packed and ready!  

Lastly, the hall will be decorated with this gorgeous bunting which I've just finished making.  I had a roll of vintage measuring tape lying around which came in handy for this!!  Each triangle on the bunting is 2 pieces of paper just to give it strength.  I tried to make sure that while putting all the papers together, that I had an interesting assortment and variety and also that there were no two of the same next to each other!  Mad!  But it looks really good.

sewing the bunting onto vintage measuring tape.

the finished bunting - with all the assorted papers.

I also designed the invitation, reply cards, DVD covers and programmes, for the event which continues the theme of the vintage/brownpaper/etc look.  

I'm looking forward to putting it all together at the event - but for now, my family and I will be happy to clear out our dining room - which has become my workshop!

Here's the final table centerpiece on the night.  I even managed to do a little matching match box with dymo tape on the front saying 'class of 2012".  Very retro!

The room looked spectacular and the styling was so well received it made all the hours and effort worthwhile.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blessed with Family.

I have a wonderful friend who is facing a huge challenge at the moment.  Today, she is have a double mastectomy for breast cancer - that has come back after 15 years in remission.

It got me thinking about my family, my health, my life.  And everything that is precious to me.

It got me thinking about the gift that I have been given, and the legacy that I am gifting the world - my children.

It got me thinking about my exemplary parents, who are the most selfless and beautiful people, and who have shown me and given me so much.

It got me thinking about my hubby, and his parents, who became my family 24 years ago, and to whom I owe so much gratitude.  My husband has been an incredible role model to our two children, and sure, married life together for 24 years has it's twists and turns, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I am blessed.

We never know when our turn to be faced with something so overwhelmingly difficult is going to come up.  Maybe we will be lucky and get to a ripe old age without suffering at the hands of illness and pain.  Like my grandmother who lived to 103 years old.

But if, life doesn't go to plan, where will your family be?  Will they turn up because they feel obliged or because they love you?  Will they lose sleep and worry for you or will they shrug it off as your problem?  

Family is what counts most to me.  And so I put together a list of old-fashioned tips, some I've learned from my parents, and some are just what I do in my own little family.  But whatever works for you, invest in your family, and keep your family together.  Because when the hard times hit, it's the family that you will want around you the most. 

(and a few of my own tips just because)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Make a Meaningful Gift

There is nothing like receiving a gift that is original and meaningful.  I love being asked to make a gift for a special commission, but it's even better if I can make something for a friend or loved family member, that they will treasure.

Recently, a very close friend turned the big five oh! I hope she doesn't mind me blogging about her age!  She's an amazing cook (and co-author of Monday Morning Cooking Club) and so I thought it would be extra nice to organise a 'foodie' type gift that could include input from a bunch of us girlfriends.

Everyone emailed me a couple of words they thought best described her, and I designed a decal that I applied to a lovely platter.  I ordered the special inkjet decal paper from Renascent College.   Before I printed on the decal, I printed a sample on paper to make sure my design looked good and fitted.

You need to use 3 coats of acrylic spray to seal the decal BEFORE you apply it to the receiving surface (in this case, the platter).  It takes a couple of days to get it together, as you need to wait 24hrs between the coats of acrylic spray.

To apply the finished decal, soak it for a couple of minutes in water  - very carefully.  Watch closely, because the paper curls up and you need to keep it flat.  You then apply the decal to the receiving surface, sliding off the backing paper very carefully, as it slips around a bit.  Use a sponge to soak up the excess water.
soak in water
slide off the backing paper.

 The finished platter looks excellent.

I also included a candle with the platter - as she lights up our lives just by being our friend!  I removed the label from the candle and added a personalised one.  You can do this on your computer, and as you can see, it's up to you how you put together your label.  I did some stitching, and added some twine and a couple of charms.

She was very touched, and it was really special being able to make something for her that was received with such excitement!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Random Tip

Mayonnaise is usually reserved for sandwiches right??

Well here's something else you can do with mayonnaise.

I have had a watermark stain on my antique baby grand piano - for years...which I've just been covering up with my pile of music books. I came across an article with 35 'great tips that will change your life" and read that if you smear mayonnaise on a watermark on a piece of furniture then it will disappear! I decided it was worth a try - and to my surprise, it worked a treat.

My piano is lacquered, I don't think I'd do it on an unlacquered wood as it would just seep into the wood and make an oily stain.

And as for changing my life... I'm not looking to do that, and if I was, I think that might take more than a jar of mayonnaise!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My new little Blog Badge.

I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I've been, trying to get a blog badge onto my blog.

I just couldn't work it out.  I tried SO many tutorials and spent countless hours... until I came across the instructions from Oikology 101.  Thank you, thank you.  Maybe it was because I'd been trying for so long that the instructions started to make sense.... not sure.  But if you need a badge for your BLOGGER blog, then I would recommend you give this tutorial a go.

Next step is to now start a little collection of cool badges...

Pinterest Spam Alert

I've said it once, and I'll say it again... I love Pinterest. And if you are looking at this post, you probably arrived here via Pinterest.  So maybe you can help me....

I have an issue that I'm trying to sort out....

A few months ago, I put up my very first pin... it was for a repurposed cable reel table which I had made.   Click here for the instructions.

Within a couple of weeks, it had been repinned nearly 1000 times.  I was quite staggered.  (What a pity I wasn't selling them on my blog!!).

One day, I found myself playing around on the Pinterest site, and noticed that if I entered "cable reel" into the Pinterest search box, my little table came up on the screen hundreds of times!!! What the??

So I started clicking on the images, and noticed that some of them didn't link back to my blog (which is what is supposed to happen when you click on an image on Pinterest), they either went to another site selling something, or else there was an alert put up by Pinterest saying:

I sent a message to Pinterest to report this and I'm still waiting to hear an answer from them.

I think I might have to delete my original pin.... and replace the picture with another one.  But who's to say it won't happen again?  I certainly don't want to direct people to spam sites!

Just for the record, I'm going to load up a screen shot of my original pin - which has now got close to 10,000 repins.

I'm not a technical guru, so if someone out there can tell me what to do ... I'd love some advice.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time for a bit of sewing.

Who has time...

I mean really!!?

Between work, family, extended family, cooking, cleaning, gardening, laundry, maintaining the house... sometimes I just get the urge to sit and create something nice.

I had a friend with a birthday this week, so I decided to make her a cute little makeup pouch using a tutorial from the very talented Flossie Teacakes: Lined, zippered pouch / make up bag tutorial.  My friend loves Babushkas, so I found a fun fabric, and had some handy scraps for the lining.  I've got quite a collection of zippers and had just the right size and colour at the ready.  

I also made a beaded bracelet to give her with the pouch.  And of course, I made a spare purse...just for me!
(I secretly wish I had more friends who could give me a homemade gift on my birthday too!!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trying to work out the blogging thing.

Gee there are some amazing blogs out there.

Now that I'm into Pinterest I've been visiting loads of blogs.  Creative blogs - cooks, artists, crafters, builders, DIY people and all sorts of stuff.

As a result, I decided to change my blog header and look. I t's taken me the better part of 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon to do this and it makes me wonder how all these bloggers get the time to maintain and update their blogs.  Also, how do they get the advertising?

Can anyone give me any tips?

For some reason, I also have had about 2000 page views every month - yet I only have 12 followers?  How do these bloggers get thousands of followers?

If you are stopping by my itsy bitsy blog for a peek, please leave me a comment if you can answer the above for questions!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

To Etsy or Not...that is the question?

I've been thinking about trying out a little etsy shop.... but what to make?  I've decided if I go there, it will be with some beading.  Love, love, love beading!  And it's very in right now.  So I tested out a couple of ideas, including the bracelet below, using fabrics, leather, beads, semi-precious stones and other bits and pieces.  I actually gave this bracelet as a gift to a good friend.  What do you think?  Comments anyone?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bring Back Creativity.

What has happened to us?? Birthday presents have turned into vouchers, money inside cards, and electronic gadgetry! I vote to turn the tide and go back to the good old days of presents with a bit of heart!
My niece turned 13 recently and although I know she would have been thrilled to get a voucher to use at the shopping center, I decided I would give her a different voucher... A "learn to crochet with Aunty Debbi" voucher. This idea quickly became a bit more than just the printing up of a voucher to pop inside the card.
I crocheted a granny square, sewed it onto some nice paper and backing - making a little tag pocket for my voucher. Then I got a plain calico bag and personalised it with her initial appliqu├ęd on to some fabric which I embellished with some crocheted flowers and buttons.
I filled the bag up with colored wools and a selection of crochet hooks.

She was delighted! And we will be starting our first lesson this weekend.
My grandma would be so proud of me! There should be a world wide movement to get kids off the couch, away from gadgets, out of malls, and back to creativity and sports!!

I'm all for that concept.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Personalised Recipe Binder

I just finished a beautiful personalised recipe binder - made for a client who wanted something special for a pre-wedding kitchen tea bridal gift.

I love taking ordinary stuff and giving it a WOW factor!

The client asked for whites and neutrals, and explicitly asked for it to be extra chunky and textural. So this is how the front detail looked:

As you can see, I embossed a wooden spoon as the focal point for the front, and added a beautiful big coconut shell button, which I wired up with beads to make the flower. I added the natural meshy leaves which were originally part of a big bow that I found in the millinery section of the craft store.

The divider pages have been detailed with a strip of paper which I cut to size and machine stitched onto the plastic divider sheets. I then used my label maker to make the labels for each section.

I made a cute pocket for the inside of the binder - to put magazine recipe cut outs.

I also designed a sheet that can be photocopied - to keep track of all the dinner parties/celebrations/entertaining that the couple will do. (I actually have my own book which I've kept for the last 23 years, with all the dates/visitors/afternoon teas/birthdays/entertaining etc. that we've done!! - It's a wonderful thing to look back on and see what we ate and who came over!)

Here are the instructions if you want to have a go at making one yourself.
Materials List: Binder, dividers, Fabrics, iron on interfacing, papers/buttons/embellishments, label maker, spray adhesive.
Tools: Scissors, sewing machine, iron, paper/pencil, hot glue gun, double sided tape, bull clips

Step one:  Measure your front cover fabric adding about 6cm all around.  This extra will be folded around the binder edges and glued down later.  I used 2 fabrics and sewed them together.  Iron on the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.

Pin the cover around the binder and press with your fingers.  Lightly press with the iron.  You can now see where the edge is - which makes it easier to decorate the front cover.

Put the cover aside, and now get to the fabric lining the inside of the binder.  Measure the inner fabric to the exact size of the binder.  Cut a piece of interfacing 2cm shorter all around and iron on to the fabric.

Fold the edges of  the lining fabric and iron down.  Stitch around the edge with your sewing machine.

Now, we come to making the template for the hole for the binder rings to fit through the lining fabric.
I used a piece of scrap paper and eyeballed the size and shape of the binder rings and drew it onto my paper.  Then I cut out the paper to check I had the right size and that it fit around the binder rings.  You need to cut the paper as you see here - with a notch and fold to the edge.  This is where the fabric will be folded and sewn around the binder rings.

To position the hole on the lining fabric, line up your lining fabric with the binder cover, and place your paper template in position.  It will be uncentered, as the binder rings are not usually centered.

Trace around your template.  Check measure before cutting, that your opening is in the right position from the top and bottom of the fabric lining - remembering that you are about 2cm away from the actual edge of the binder, as the lining is 2cm shorter all the way around.

This is how it looks on the fabric lining.

Cut out the hole and diagonal notches to the corners.

Fold the edges to the inside and pin down.  Check that it all fits over the binder rings!

Stitch around the folded edges.

Now you are up to decorating the front cover and making a pocket.  Pin everything down using the ironing lines as your guide to where the edges are.  Then stitch in place. 

Cut your pocket and iron on some interfacing to the wrong side.  Add your embellishments and sew into place.  Then stitch pocket onto fabric lining.  You won't be able to stitch anything onto the pocket or front cover once they are glued down onto the binder.  So make sure anything you want to stitch down is done now.

To make the dividers, put double sided tape at the very edge of the divider - including on the very edge of the tab.  Stick down a strip of scrapbooking paper.

Stitch the paper in place using your machine.  I used a zig zag stitch. Turn the divider over and trim around the divider tab shape.
 I made 10 divider tabs - starters, soups, salads, pasta, fish, meat, chicken, cakes & desserts, inspirations, and entertaining.  Use a label machine to make the label tabs.  I used a similar one to this.

Now, for covering the binder.  
Spray the  outer side of the BINDER with spray adhesive.  Position the cover and press into place.  
Carefully spray around the inside EDGE of the BINDER and fold over the cover fabric.  Clamp down using some bull clips.
Spray the inside of the binder carefully, and up to about 2cm AWAY from the edge.  Stick down the lining fabric making sure the edges are firmly glued down.

Lastly, add on the chunky details using your hot glue gun.

Add the dividers and plastic sleeves and voila... you have your recipe binder.
If it's all too hard... you can contact me and I'll be happy to make one for you!!