Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fabric Flowers, Feather Wreath

Happy Sunday, all!  I'm enjoy day #2 of a 3-day weekend, by some blessing of the scheduling gods.  Yesterday was a busy day, running errands and working on integrating the new kitty into the household.  So far, things are going well.  We've definitely decided on the name Lancelot (Lance for short).

This morning I got up and decided I wanted to work on something crafty, and I didn't want to drag out my paints with a new, all-white cat around.  That just seemed like it'd end with a cat of many colors!  I remembered that I had bought a few things at Michael's recently to adorn some wreaths, so I set to work.

A few weeks ago, Michael's had a sale on items by Jolee's Boutique (found in their scrapbooking section, at least near me).  I saw these adorable burlap flowers, and I just couldn't resist.  I wasn't sure what I'd do with them, but I knew I'd find something.

I had, even earlier in the year, bought a couple of their feather wreaths, and this morning, inspiration hit me.  I used pins and stuck them into the styrofoam of the wreath, and voila!  

I took a good look at the flowers, and I realized they wouldn't be so hard to make. 

Here's how I did it:

Step 1: Raid your fabric stash. I used a turquoise satin I had lying around, initially planning to make flowers of just one color, but then I realized I had another fabric that would work too.  Embarrassingly enough, the printed fabric is from an old, lightweight cotton nightshirt.

Step 2: Cut small squares from your fabrics, pictured on the far left of the image above.

Step 3: Fold your square in half, and then in quarters, and then into eighths.

Step 4:  Cut a scalloped edge, and then unfold.  You'll be left with the flower-like shapes pictured in the very first image.  You'll want either three or four of these per flower.

Step 5:  Select a pin.  You can either using a color that matches your fabric, or one that contrasts.  Below, you'll see that I used a matching pin, but the flowers on my wreath have contrasting pins.  I think that makes them look more flowery.

Once you've chosen your pin, take one piece of fabric and begin gathering it around the center.  Stick your pin through it.  You may have to experiment a few times to find arrangement you like best.  

Step 6: Repeat with two more bits, and stick them behind your first layer on the pin.  If you find you need more ruffle in one section, you can turn your layers until you like what you see, or make one of the flowers into more of a closed ruffle and tuck it behind your first layer, ie, leave it folded into sort-of quarters.

Step 7:  Keep arranging the layers until you're happy with the way they look.  In the flower above, I decided the satin was too plain, so I disassembled it and made a smaller flower from the printed fabric and used it as my top layer.

Step 8:  Make as many of these as you'd like, and tuck them onto a feather wreath.  If you can't find an inexpensive feather wreath, use a styrofoam wreath form, and wrap a feather boa around it.  The wreaths I used were something like $15 with a coupon at Michael's.

For the large flower in the center, I added a multicolored tulle (blue and white with silver sparkles) to add some depth to the flower, and used the printed fabric on top of it.  You'll see a medium-sized flower below the big one, and two small flowers of just the satin above it.  I also made two tiny flowers of just the printed fabric.

Step 9: Stand back and admire your wreath!  It's hard to see in the shot above, but some of the feathers have a greenish-blue iridescence that plays nicely with the turquoise.

The fun thing about this project is that you can customize your flowers to whatever combination you like.

Maybe you'd like a festive wreath for Christmas.

Or maybe something patriotic for Memorial Day.

 Lancelot decided it'd be fun to help me take pictures.

Also, check out the difference that just using a colored different pin in the center makes.

I decided to make one more wreath, though, to go with the cat-related project I undertook this afternoon - making our three-season porch into more of a "catio."  My husband and I watch Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist who hosts "My Cat from Hell" on Animal Planet.  One of the things he says is that cats need vertical space, and they need multiple routes around the room.  Given that we now have five cats, we thought this was very solid advice.

I found a use for one of the fabrics I bought recently (that I talked about here).  I converted an old bookshelf from Crate and Barrel into a cat-friendly stand by covering the bottom two shelves in felt, and the top two shelves in a funky print.  The very top shelf has three layers of felt underneath the funky print upholstery fabric, for a little extra cushion.

Since my funky print is a combination of reds, oranges and yellows, I made some flowers to match, and the wreath looks like this:

And the finished addition to our catio?

Don't worry.  The wreath isn't staying there.  That's just asking for it! 

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Completed Peacock & New Kitty

I finished my peacock painting a couple nights ago.  It's now dry, so here are some shots of the final piece:

It's mostly done with pearl and metallic paints, as you can see in this image.

Instead of framing the canvas, I decided to paint an edge detail.  I then painted glitter over it. I couldn't help myself!  I love sparklies!

A detail of the tail.  There are a few colors that are a satin finish, 
which really shows up at this angle.

New kitty - who may be named Lancelot - is settling in nicely at home.  He came home last night.  

 All the boys outside new kitty's room, curious.

Kitty at the vet.  In this picture, you can see his eye color - very light blue near the pupil, but pinkish-lavender near the outside.  I think he's albino. 

In full hunter-cat mode at the vet.

Relaxed as can be, at the vet.  I haven't gotten many good shots at home yet!

And finally, a question.  The phone camera is clearly not really cutting it.  Anyone have any suggestions for a not-too-expensive, decent quality camera?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An addition to the family & Etsy window shopping

I haven't been posting much the last couple weeks, and I'm so very sorry for that!  I've got a couple projects in the works, and I've just finished up my peacock painting.  Hopefully the last touches will be dry soon and I can photograph it.

I've also continued to work on adding art to the house that isn't my own.  Most of the cat watercolors are hung, and I've received the paintings/prints I ordered from Etsy.

The biggest project I've been working on lately, though, is preparing the house for the addition of a new family member.  We're adopting another cat (oh, dear), and I think this definitely moves us to the realm of "insane," but I'm comfortable with that!  So we've been working on preparing the "nursery" and catproofing it, since we like to introduce cats veeery slowly.

In the meanwhile, let's talk about Etsy.  I've been lusting over a few things lately.

Oh, so pretty!  Love the colors, and there's a great selection of others in a rainbow of hues.  Haven't ordered from this shop yet.

I love its mellow gold glow, and the etching on the plate.  Very glam, in a classy way.  Have not ordered from this shop yet.

Oh, wow.  I can't stop drooling over these.  Pricey, but gorgeous.  What a great fabric!  Saw this shop on Sadie & Stella.

Stunning tapestry here, pricey, but there are much less expensive suzani embroidered throw pillows in the shop.  Have not ordered from this shop yet.

Awww!  It's a kitty pouf!  And the kitty's pretty darn cute, too.

I love the colors and details in this.  I actually ordered a set of 4 prints from Cate, and they're beautiful.  Great communication, and she shipped quickly.  They're printed very nicely, on sturdy, quality paper.

Just... wow.  Love the colors. It's like stained glass meets the most gorgeous ikat ever.

(I keep thinking of Tiffany's Color My World Challenge, here, with the green!)

I adore this couch.  Believe you me, if I had the extra cash to shell out, it'd be winging its way to New England right this instant.  The colors of the fabric - mm, that copper velvet! - along with the curves of the piece are simply stunning.

Love, love, love the fabric!  Amy Butler has some pretty prints out this season.

I absolutely drool over anything MoMo Soho makes.

I've known this shop owner for a bit, through a perfume company we both adore.  Quite talented, though I haven't bought any of her pieces for myself yet.  Yet!

Love this.  Such pretty, clean lines.  My husband got me a cat pendant from this shop a couple years ago, and it's beautiful.  Highly recommend.

I can't recommend Paintbox Soapworks highly enough. The owner is a doll, and her soaps and scrubs are great.  This one smells just like lilacs.

Ooh, shiny!  

So whimsical, but I love it!  Haven't bought one yet, but I love that this designer uses all recycled textiles in her coats.

I haven't tried their brownies, but I have ordered some of their cupcakes in lieu of a whole birthday cake for my husband.  Delish!

Back to kitty proofing!  And trying to eradicate the "I'm a sucker for cats" that's tattooed on my forehead.


Edited to add: Do you have any favorite Etsy stores?  I'd love to hear about them!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Changes and a Peacock Painting

I'm playing around with the look of the Handyvergers... please feel free to leave feedback on any of the changes I've made!  If anything seems wonky, I want to know. :)

But for now, a preview of the painting I'm trying to finish currently.

The sketch

A detail of the tail, partially finished.

Getting closer to being done...

Hopefully another post to follow later today.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Adding Art

I'm surrounded by white walls, mostly.  Although the Handyverger house is riddled with pink, we're fortunate that many of our walls are white.  Normally, if I wanted to inject a little color into a room, I would start with the paint color on the walls.  That's less of an option here, where most of the walls are wallpapered.  The living room and dining room open into each other, and they're papered with a white-on-white damask.   The nearby halls are papered with a simple white-on-white stripe.  If I have to live with wallpaper, at least this gives us a nice neutral slate to start out with.

We've been adding color to our space with curtains and upholstery, but I've been longing for some art to hang on the walls.  Recently, with the loss of our kitty Pippin, I decided to have a portrait painted of him.  I loved the work of George Birdman on Etsy, so I asked George to paint a custom portrait of Pippin... which then led to paintings of all the cats, past and present.  They arrived in the mail the other day, and I adore them!  I couldn't be happier with how they turned out.

These were all painted from photos I emailed George, and I am absolutely thrilled to have these on my walls!  At the risk of cat overload, I'll put the rest near the end of the post.  Here some are, though, hung:

Sorry for the blurries - this was hard to photograph!  I hope to add more to this wall, but it's a start.  These are the three kitties who are no longer with us, Cleo, Pippin & Horatio.

So, while I bought some art, I also have been working on creating some.  Here's my first finished piece.

I'm so thrilled with how this turned out.  I call it Atlantean Grove.  I'm not quite sure where I'll hang it, yet, but I'm sure there will be a home for it!

More kitties below from Birdman Art, and another post to follow with other artwork that's in progress and/or winging its way toward me, even as we speak.