Category: WINQ

Display or Display Not, There is No Dining Room

A person cannot quilt 24/7/365. At the very least, I need to stop to eat and – briefly – sleep. And, I’ll admit it, I sometimes get a thrill out of cheating on my quilts with other crafts. I call them WINQ projects, or things to do When I‘m Not Quilting.

Prior to retiring, my husband worked in the biotech industry, mainly manufacturing medical devices. Not surprisingly, expertise like his has been fairly in demand during the COVID quarantine, so he’s picked up a few consulting gigs on the side. After a little encouragement, he decided to splurge a bit with the money he made and help out a small craft business at the same time, buying a custom-built Star Wars lightsaber from Ultrasabers.com.

DoorDoNot

Ultrasabers makes a really high quality lightsaber replica – this model lights up, makes all the right sound effects, comes with a specialized battery charger, etc – but I was still a bit worried about it getting damaged if we didn’t come up with a way to carefully show it off. So we worked together to build a display rack that will sit in the middle of our dining room table and store the piece when not in use. (Yes, he plays with it; how could you not? 😉 )

The rack itself is made from a couple of pieces of poplar wood. I’d have preferred pine, but finding wood that can be delivered to your home in a pandemic is surprisingly difficult. Ok, maybe that’s not surprising, but you know what I mean…

The upright braces have “U” shaped holes cut out of them to hold the each end of the lightsaber. Using a hole drill and jigsaw made the cuts fairly easy to do; finding the right height for each piece so that the saber would be level while resting was the hardest part.

The words were added by graphite transfer and filled in with Sharpie markers and then the whole piece was stained. A little bit of wood glue holds the braces in place and there’s also a few felt pads on the bottom so it doesn’t scratch up the table surface. For a final touch, we added some adhesive felt to the insides of the “U”s so that the lightsaber isn’t resting directly on the stain.

We’re really pleased with how it turned out! It looks great in what is becoming more and more a place to show off our fun Sci-Fi related memorabilia and less and less a place to actually eat. Maybe our next project should be a Star Trek food replicator…

With Ollivander’s Closed for the Foreseeable Future…

Over the weekend, my husband and I made Harry Potter wands (I’m the PottHead, he was just in it for the chance to make something light up.)

hpwands

We both used willow branches purchased online – I am not an outdoors person, so finding our own was out of the question. But willow has always been my favorite tree to admire from afar and there was a nice selection of thin branches (for me) and thick branches (to hide the wiring on his.)

hpwandsglow

That’s actual, unretouched flare from the blue LED!

One of my favorite touches regarding wands in Rowling’s books is how each one ‘fits’ its owner and that’s what we did when creating ours.

My husband’s is shorter, beefier and quite rustic – the gold paint he added to the bands looks well-worn. It’s a mix of high tech – the lighting – contrasted with natural – the leather wrap. And the matte grey color is classically him.

hpwandsmine

Mine, on the other hand, is so representational of me. I chose a wonky branch, with some interesting bends and sanded all the bark off. For the handle, I cut the ends off of a large wooden spool and glued them a hand-width’s distance apart, then fashioned a long snake of Sculpey clay and wrapped it around the area between to resemble thread.

As a proud Ravenclaw, I chose a metallic blue for the color (or I had metallic blue spray paint leftover from another project 😀 ) and added a touch of bronze to the spool ends so they’d stand out.

Our next plan is to create a display, but that might have to wait until we get tired of playing with them. I’m sure at some point I’ll stop wandering around the house saying “Accio!” while waving my wand, but in the meantime… “Evanesco!”

 

Meet My Newest Custom Funko POP

2ndgrade

My actual report on Greece from elementary school (circa 2nd grade)

IIRC, it’s usually around second grade that kids start to study the Greek myths in school. Those first lessons baited the hook… but once I found a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology on my grandmother’s library shelf, it was all over. I’d begun a life-long love affair with the stories of Zeus, Hera and the other gods and goddesses from Mt. Olympus.*

Naturally, as a little girl with an extreme love of learning, Athena, the goddess of wisdom**, was my favorite.

Now that I’m an adult, I have additional obsessions, one being collecting Funko POPs. They have a line of myth-themed POPs, including creatures like Cyclops and the Minotaur. Since there are no gods or goddesses yet, (and, as usual, way more male characters in the line than female,) I’ve had to customize my own Athena POP ~

AthenaFunko

hippolyta

She started as a Hippolyta figure from DC’s Wonder Woman movie. I wish the hair had been curlier, but the body of the doll was pretty close – Greek-style clothing, check; body armor, check; sword, check.

Although modern research shows that statues of gods and goddesses were often brightly colored, when I was first learning, images of Athena always showed her dressed in white. So I painted most of the clothes on my doll Titanium white. And painted. And painted. You would not believe the number of layers of white paint there are on her! Eventually, though, it was opaque enough and I could move on to other things.

To personalize her a bit more, I fashioned an accent for the bottom of her cape and a breastplate from modeling clay (some Sculpey I had leftover from another project worked great.) After baking, both were spray painted gold and then attached with Zap-a-Gap glue. I also changed her hair color to black to more closely resemble women of Greek-heritage.

Finally, it was time to focus on the most important part ~ her aegis, complete with Medusa head! I knew I didn’t have the skill yet to create a monster-headed shield out of clay, so I started searching for an option online. Eventually I found a Medusa pendant on Etsy that was the right size and splurged on having it shipped from Turkey.

I had to cut the bail off the top and sand it down, but once that was finished, the piece was really starting to resemble a shield. After a couple layers of gold paint, I added the black accent and glued it to the figure. From the front it looks like it’s always been there! (If you look closely at the side, her arm as molded isn’t actually holding it, but you work with what you have…)

In the end, my Athena POP looks just like little 7- to 8-year old me would have imagined, if I could have seen into a future where Funkos existed. 😀 I couldn’t be more pleased!

 


*Just FYI, I get my mythological fix nowadays with Jason and Carissa Weiser’s Myths and Legends podcast. Highly recommend!

**I had forgotten that, in addition to being the goddess of wisdom and war, Athena is also the goddess of crafts! No wonder she’s my favorite! 😉

Craft Apron WINQ

As a quilter, I sew, of course, but I’m not a seamstress (and, yeah, trying to explain the difference to non-sewists is a fun conversation to have.) But I needed an craft apron for when I’m using the long-arm quilting machine so I decided to give this cross-back apron tutorial and pattern from Purl Soho a chance.

apron

Turns out all the straight seams made it easy for this quilter to adapt 😀

I chose to use a twill instead of the recommended linen, which made some of the seams overly thick but the finished apron feels sturdy and comfortable at the same time. You can kind of see how deep the side pockets are in this photo ~ I will be able to keep so many long-arm quilting accessories close while I work! And I’m thinking about adding an embroidery to the front to personalize it, but haven’t decided yet what might work.

Maybe I’m a seamstress after all.**


**Just kidding. Don’t ask me to hem your pants.

It’s a FAAAAKE! :: ‘Fabric’-ated Plant WINQ

A person cannot quilt 24/7/365. At the very least, I need to stop to eat and – briefly – sleep. And, I’ll admit it, I sometimes get a thrill out of cheating on my quilts with other crafts. I call them WINQ projects, or things to do When I‘m Not Quilting.

Sorry for titling this post with an obscure Star Trek:Deep Space Nine quote, but I do love that particular episode (In the Pale Moonlight). And even though the scene had nothing at all to do with the mock fabric plant I was making, while working on this WINQ, the actor’s over-the-top line reading kept going through my head over and over until it stuck.

In any case, the real reason I decided to make a fake plant was that our kitty would eat any real ones I put out. So I pulled a bit of fun green fabric from my stash, found myself a tutorial online and made this cute little addition to our living room decor ~

plant

It’s definitely a fake; no one’s going to mistake it for a real plant. But it’s just what the coffee table needed and was very easy to create. In fact, I’ve started looking around to see if there are any other spots in the house that could use a splash of pseudo-succulent color. This may not be my last ‘fabric’-ated plant! 😀

Lookin’ Sharp :: Cactus Table Runner WINQ

A person cannot quilt 24/7/365. At the very least, you need to stop to eat and – briefly – sleep. And, I’ll admit it, I sometimes get a thrill out of cheating on my quilts with other crafts. I call them WINQ projects, or things to do When I‘m Not Quilting.

We recently had to reupholster an oversized chair in our living room, which kind of led to a moderate freshening of the whole space. A little paint, some new art, a rug, and, most recently, a new table runner for the coffee table…

cactusrunner1

Originally, the runner on this table was a sunflower design embroidered on bright red felt by Steph at TwoKazoos. While I’d done some felt crafting in the past, Steph is so amazing – I actually own several pieces of her artwork! – that it’s really inspired me to up my embroidery game. The result was this cactus-themed decor piece ~

cactusrunner2

Steph does her stitching completely by hand, while I had to sew mine with ¼” inch guides, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out. I tried a few new-to-me embroidery stitches, the running stitch and 8-point stars, so it was a fun learning experience, too.

My plan now is to have the cactus-theme decor up for winter and spring, then switch back to the sunflower designs for summer and fall. I read somewhere that if your artwork and home decor doesn’t change once in a while, your brain starts to take it for granted – you walk right past and forget to appreciate it the way you did when it was first displayed. In other words, it’s good shake things up occasionally!

While looking for cactus inspiration on Pinterest I came across this quotable that was just too funny not to share

a-cactus-is-essentially-an-aggressive-cucumber-framed

Yeah, that’s going to need to go somewhere in our new decor at some point, too. 😀

2019 Whimzie Wrap Up ~ Checkerboards, Countdown Calendars and More

I’d hoped to write this post before 2019 was over; instead, I’m writing it in mid January and will backdate the post 2-3 weeks. In a way, it’s kind of fitting, because the whole point of the Whimzie Wrap Up is to touch on projects I forgot earlier in the year or ones I couldn’t mention earlier because they were custom gifts – everything covered below is already late, so a few more days doesn’t really matter!

Quilted Checkerboards

This quilted checkerboard game was a request from returning customer DeVon D., a last minute Christmas gift. Since she needed it quickly, I offered her some fabric choices from my stash and I’m so glad she chose this adorable red and grey cat fabric!

DeckertCatCheckers

I ended up offering the checkerboard as a gift with purchase for DeVon’s most recent custom quilt order – a lucky request, since she’s placed so many custom quilt orders with me, I had no idea what to make her as a thank you this time!

This cute checkerboard request came through Etsy back in June. Carol A. was making her daughter and son-in-law a care package, including a quilt, for their new RV. She didn’t have enough time to make anything else quilted, but wanted to include a game for them to play on the road…

CampingCheckerboard2

I was really honored that a fellow quilter liked my work enough to ask me to step in. The funniest part was, while she didn’t request a specific fabric for her custom board, I ended up choosing the exact same fabric line she was using in their quilt!

Quilted  Countdown Calendars

You may remember the original Star Trek series-inspired Advent calendar I started offering in my Etsy shop several years ago… in 2019, I added a TNG version for sale ( and a DS9 one for myself 😀 )

2019 was actually a big year for new quilted countdown calendar designs, including some colorful new characters…

and some on-trend designs.

Plus, I created this Tour de France race stage countdown calendar as a Christmas gift for my husband who’s really into cycling.

TdeFCountdownCalendar

He really loved it! Which has got me thinking about other non-holiday countdown calendars I can add to my Etsy store – vacation countdown calendars, birthday calendars, end of the school year, … if you have an idea, please share it with me in the comments!

Quilted Mug Rug Sets

This was another gift with purchase for a long-time customer, Cynthia H. She asked for a bee-themed mug rug set that was classy, not cutesy, for her tea loving friend.

HannaBeeMugRug

I especially had fun picking out a trim to add to the edges – it mimics the fancy stitching on the bee wings so beautifully!

WINQ

I’m going to wrap up this wrap up with a When I‘m Not Quilting project from July. We’ve had this print for nearly 20 years (purchased at an art fair my then-finance/now-husband and I went to not long after we moved in together) and I’ve been looking for the perfect frame all this time. Saw this originally gold one while thrifting, but of course, I needed it a different color.

rub_n_buff_frame

An internet search about how to silver age a frame turned me on to Rub’n’Buff. HOLY COW! That stuff is AMAZING! It totally lived up to everything mentioned in the marketing and I was thrilled with the outcome. Our print couldn’t have a better frame and it is finally, finally! hanging on the wall.

And this wrap up is finally, finally!, over, too! Thanks for sticking through to the end. Hope your 2019 was full of warmth and whimzie ~ here’s to an even better 2020 for all of us!

Thereby Hangs a Tale ~ Our Quilt Hanger Project

Most of the quilts I make are for customers, so if you look around our home, I don’t have a lot of my work on display. Several are folded in a cabinet, a smallish one hangs in the library, there’s some pillows – but when people drop by and want to see my work, there hasn’t been much to show off.

Until now.

Earlier this year, I finished Sew Geeky, which combined my love of Sci-Fi TV and quilting into one fabulous work of art. I knew I wanted to display this piece early on, but it ended up being huge (81″ x 88″), so big that we were left with just one place in the house that it fit – the half wall in our 2-story staircase.

quilthanger

Finding a location it fit turned out to be the easy part. We couldn’t just use a normal quilt hanger as it had to be hung over 19 feet in the air! Plus, we wanted to do it ourselves to save money and all we could use was a small ladder as the stair landing is fairly tight. To give you a little more perspective on what kind of space we were working with, this photo is taken from the first floor looking up –

hanger1

It’s really tall and really confined at the same time.

We spent several months considering and discarding different hanging methods. Ultimately, we determined making a frame out of galvanized plumbing pipe would be the best solution. It would be sturdy enough to support the weight of the quilt, but could be anchored near the bottom, eliminating the need to climb too high. The rustic industrial look also blends well with our Southern California home-style.

It took some time to find a supply place that could cut the pipe into 7 ft lengths – most places either couldn’t accommodate that length or didn’t have a pipe threader on site. We finally turned up a location in Barrio Logan that both had the right diameter pipe and could cut it to fit. I was a little bit embarrassed to explain to the guys working there what it was for – normally, their customers are plumbing projects like hotels and hospitals! – but they got the idea right away and were really helpful.

My husband cleaned the pipes and painted them, while I added a contact paper sleeve to the top rung (after all the work I put into this quilt, I didn’t want the painted finish to damage the fabric!)

Then he attached the flanges into studs near the bottom of the wall. We kind of lucked out because there was a huge header built in there already to support the weight of the second floor. Although this was probably enough to hold the quilt up, we decided to add an addition wooden support part way up the wall. We do live in an earthquake prone area – better to be safe than sorry! You can see the wood brace about a third of the way up on the right side of this photo –

hanger4

I wish I’d pre-painted the silver eye hook before we attached the frame, but I still hope to get that done one day soon.

Now for the best part… the SPECIAL CONNECTOR –

hanger6

None of this would have worked without my husband’s idea to use a union fitting, a special type of pipe adapter that connects two same size pipes. Most pipe connections are permanent; you tighten them and they stay tightened. But that doesn’t work with something like this frame which had to be mounted on the wall first. If we’d tried tightening one side support after mounting, the whole frame would have swung around, smacked into the wall (and probably us!) and stopped. There would have been no way to completely tighten one side, let alone the other side. But these union fittings allowed us to fit all the permanent mounts, then just tighten the union fittings to hold everything in place.

And there’s an added benefit of the union fitting – it means we can take this quilt down again if we ever need to! It can be washed or changed out (though I have no plans to make another hanging quilt this big anytime soon :D)

hanger3

I have to admit, I was terrified the entire time we worked on installing this frame. I thought for sure it wouldn’t work, that it would fall and smash the chandelier or collapse and impale one of us. There were several times I nearly gave up. But my husband powered through and made it happen. The first words he said to me after it was up? “I think I deserve an honorary structural engineering degree now.”

hanger2

After we were done, I stood below, looking up, and was speechless. It turned out so amazingly well; even better than I imagined. And now I get to enjoy my favorite quilt every time I go up and down the stairs!

Team Work Makes the Halloween Nightmare Work

Halloween is my husband’s favorite holiday, so every year I try to add at least one crafty item to our decorations for him. Since he’s home more now, this year we were able to work together, and the result was three spooky cool projects…

Spider Web Halloween Countdown Calendar

While we have several candy holding countdown calendars around here (including this Count Von Count one I posted about earlier this year,) as we get older and, well, rounder, I’ve started looking for non-food options 😀 Which is why we decided to recreate a countdown calendar I originally saw on Pinterest ~ each day you add a toy spider to the web. No additional calories at all!

We scoured thrift stores for the perfect gothic frame, which he cleaned and painted while I sourced and attached the numbers, web and spiders.

halloweencountdown_spider

I’m showing a picture from earlier this month with just a few spiders, but as October goes on the weight of those cheap plastic arachnids is really stretching the web! We’ll need to solve that problem for next year.

Haunted Dollhouse Mansion

IMG_4386This is project that took the longest – we’d actually been biking to garage sales for over a year, hoping to find a dollhouse available for cheap. (Once, after seeing a dollhouse stored in an open garage during a ride, I almost knocked on the door to see if they’d sell it! I couldn’t go through with it, but that I even thought about doing something so brazen should tell you how determined I was to create a haunted dollhouse this year.)

We ended up lucking on this Calico Critters Cloverleaf Mansion at a thrift store one afternoon back in July – lots of missing pieces as you can see! I tried eBay for doors and porch, but they either weren’t available or people wanted exorbitant prices. So we made the missing parts ourselves…

hauntedhouse_done

Here it is glowing at night –

hauntedhouse_full

and a close up so the purple of the lights shows a bit better –

hauntedhouse_closeup

A LOT of work went into finishing this project, but I thought I’d just call out a few things if you are thinking about making one yourself.

One, Blick Art Materials (used to be called Dick Blick) has an AMAZING supply of spray paint in shades you just can’t find at the local hardware store. The main gray for the body of the dollhouse came from there – 3 cans! (This is a really big dollhouse :D)

Two, we tried several different ways to get the silhouettes in the windows, but what worked best was transparent overhead projector sheets. Given the ubiquity of PowerPoint these days, I hadn’t thought about overhead projectors in years, but going old school did the trick. (The silhouettes themselves are free printables created by Dave Lowe. He’s an illustrator as well as a set and prop designer and I’m combing the archive on his blog for other amazing Halloween decor ideas. Stay tuned!)

Three, there’s black foam core on the backside, trimmed to fit. Partly to clean it up, but also because the purple lights in the windows shine brighter with it there.  The lights are just mini LEDs you can get almost anywhere, but ours came with remotes which makes turning the lights on and off so much easier than removing the foam core back ever day.

Cat Eye Chair Covers

Since these were sewing/embroidery, this was a project I did alone ~ but my husband did make it easier by being gone on a solo bike ride while I was working 😀

I was particularly excited to reuse the cat eye embroidery design I purchased for the “Got My Eyes on You” Halloween countdown calendar in my Etsy store.

cateye_chaircovers

(The TRICK / TREAT quilted pillows are from 2013! Sometimes when I look up stuff like this to post, I can’t believe how long ago I made them; feels like just yesterday.)

 


 

Doing these Halloween projects together was a lot of fun and there’s plans for a (my favorite holiday) Christmas craft or two that take advantage of both our skill sets, as well. But time’s sure passing quickly ~ maybe we should add working together to build a time machine to our to-do list!

Harry Potter and the Failed Craft Project

Have you ever have one of those projects that you just can’t make work no matter how hard you try? Welcome to my latest disaster…

34947_HarryPotter_AdventCalendar_Front_GLAM_1_largeAlthough I was originally on a wait list, I ended up getting a Funko Harry Potter Advent calendar when they were released last year. It was a lot of fun opening the doors each day during December. But, while the Pops themselves were nice quality, I worried that the cardboard box they came in would not hold up long term and I started looking for a different option.

Ultimately, I purchased a wooden Advent calendar that looked like a book ~ perfect for Harry Potter, am I right? ~ back in January and have been working to update it off and on for about nine months now.

I HATE it.

HP_BookCalendar2

The paint is both too thick AND too thin (don’t ask me how).

The pearls look so cheesy.

And the hinges don’t line up.

I thought I found the ideal numbering system in the wax seals, but they aren’t coming across like I’d hoped.

The interior picture keeps coming loose in spots.

And to top it all off, the drawers themselves aren’t large enough to hold some of the Pops!

HP_BookCalendar

I’ve finally decided to give up.

I’m just tired of looking at it and fussing over it. I’m tired of spending money on it and I’m really tired of spending time on it.

So, for now, it’s off my to-do list. In a few months, I might come back to it… or I might throw it out.

It’s always disappointing when an idea in your head doesn’t come together like you hope. But, as much as I’d like to be, makers aren’t magicians. Sometimes, a project just fails.

Evanesco!