Saturday, January 29, 2011

Circle Skirt!

I made my first article of clothing! I think it's still quite evident that I need loads more practice, but at least I did it! Gotta start somewhere, eh?

The hemline doesn't exactly want to lay flat... really wants to roll out in some places, but I guess that's just going to require going back and fixing it. And there's got to be some way to do this waistband better so that it will lay more smoothly. But that's what learning is for!

Used the tutorial from Dana Made It (I'm sure she won't want to take credit for this though lol). I saw a lot of different tutorials but hers was by far the easiest for me to follow.

In other news, I dropped by the happy place that is the flea market where I've been finding all my furniture, and they didn't have the right thing in my budget. If I could just sell one more $40 textbook... There were two dressers there that had drawers with DIVIDERS in them! How exciting is that?! I didn't even come away from my shopping excursion with a hardback book. Depressing.

Speaking of my book addiction, I saw the most amazing thing yesterday: a cheap bookshelf hack that could be done with Walmart bookshelves! I've searched all over because there had to be SOME sort of creative solution done with SOMETHING that wasn't from Ikea (which evidently has a deadly allergy to MS) and this is the first I've found, and it's LOVELY!

Just look at that! Just two cheap bookcases bolted together and a bit of trim thrown on. I can do that! I imagine PeskyKitty will have a blast climbing on it and knocking everything off, but this looks so worth it.


I love organizing. My art supplies sorely need it. I want my dresser. Somebody buy a textbook! You know you want the only-good-for-one-semester-Psychology book... or something like that...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kitchen Solutioning

I have the worst kitchen. Don't judge, I'm already doing enough of that myself. I rent, and considering the situation (this is technically a barn, so my horse lives downstairs), the kitchen is definitely not something worth complaining about (my hostile landlord, on the other hand...).

The cabinet fronts are completely unadorned... golden oak, no trim other than some beveling on the edges, simple brass hardware. Not worth trying to paint. My countertop is this hideous laminate that I guess is supposed to look like butcher block. Which I guess could be made to work, if I felt like painting the boring cabinets something that would actually CONTRAST. The tile is the only thing I actually like, but again, it fails to add contrast. Brown, brown, brown, brown. The walls and floor are in on it too. I mean, I like neutral, but this is ridiculous.

But the thing that has definitely bothered me since moving in is the shelf space. The cabinets on the bottom are super deep... but the shelves are 12 and 8 inches tall. Stuff gets lost back there unless you like regularly getting on your knees and digging. And those corners are completely open, so more stuff gets lost in there.

Why yes, a man did design my kitchen.

Oh, and have I mentioned that my landlord never completely finished moving his old crap out? Oh yes. I'm storing it for him. It has been relegated to these dark recesses.

Since I moved in, I've removed the shelf from the isolated cabinet on the right of the oven so I could finally hang my pans from the sides and stack my taller pots and such in the middle. It was a HUGE improvement. I mean MONUMENTAL. Have you ever tried to store your pots and pans and strainers and such in a tiny shelf that's 12 inches tall and mindlessly deep? Ridiculous.

But the cabinet sandwiched between the corner and the oven was hopeless. It was like a black void that disappeared to the back and one side.

Enter Brilliant Idea.

Remember the Christmas present cabinet? Remember how I removed the hideous middle drawers? Well, said drawers have been sitting around my and my man's apartments. I felt bad for thinking about throwing away such sturdy, albeit hideous drawers. I figured that at some point, a Brilliant Idea would hit and I'd know what to do with them. The one that's here with me has been functioning as a kind of tote for my artwork supplies or tools, or as a catchall for my passenger seat (my tiny Tundra has a bench seat and NO back seat – or room for that matter. But I love it even so).

Brilliant Idea time! Said drawer/tote has been sitting on my kitchen table (which is guilty of being rarely used) full of art supplies, and one corner had come loose. I finally got tired of looking at it , put away the art supplies, and glued the corner back together. In my kitchen. In front of the cabinet. And BAM! There may have been a comical doubletake moment.

There was a cabinet/black hole, begging to be reined in.

Here was a drawer.

Would it fit? Yes it would!

And now I have a breakfast drawer. It's not a very polished solution, but maybe at some point I'll yank off that ridiculous trim and downsize the drawer overlap. And add color and a more sensible handle.

When I get the other drawers back from Jackson, I'll be able to tackle the lower shelf.

I'm excited! I love organizing and solutioning!

Now if only there was some way to salvage that skinny cabinet... it's completely open too, and just falls off into the under-sink space. There's nothing there to protect things from disappearing into the void of the corner or falling into the mess that is my under-sink space (again with the storing my landlord's stuff, and there's a LOT of it in here).

ALSO. I may be sewing. A circle skirt. With a lovely wintery fabric that my noobish self is going to call a knit. Which could be wrong. But the skirt will be lovely, and that's what counts. I'll post that later :)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slipcover Pt.2, and Way Too Many Books

One week of blessed, blessed, blessed vacation. The man in my life took all this past week off to simply be with me, and boy, it was a blessed, blessed, blessed good vacation. AND during the few hours we had to be apart, I got some more sewing done at the folks' house.

That's right, I worked on the slipcovers some more. I got the other side of the chair put together, and got the wraparound on the front of the arms pinned and one of them sewn. It was a huge feat for me, considering those were HUGE darts, and very confusing for novice lil' ol' me. And I give you full permission to ignore that little dribble on the front, there was a sick puppy incident. She got the seat too, which unfortunately stained a bit... they WOULD choose my magnificent work in progress to go be sick on, wouldn't they... grrr. But I guess with 6 animals in the house (and before you become all googley eyed with OMGness, most of them are indoor/outdoor, especially the cats... and one of those cats is mine and goes back to school with me tonight) you have to expect some damage.

Though in her defence, my Peskykitty DID "help" with the sewing process. She was very good at anchoring the chair down and attacking any who tried to touch or steal it (including me).

What else have I accomplished in this lazy, blessed, blessed, blessed vacation, you may ask? (or may not?) I stuck it to the man. One old, cranky, crabby, selfish, stick-in-the-mud man.

You see, I'm a bit of a sucker for books. I ADORE books. And recently I've discovered the joys of thrift store bookshelves, and finds such as hardback Anne Rice and Harry Potter and James Michener for as little as 50 cents. And not too far from my folks' house is this wonderful place called Gateway, which is kind of a thrift store that benefits a local shelter. It's HUGE. But, see, there was a problem. They had this pretty decent book section in the front, and a kind of afterthought book section in the back warehouse, but you could see that behind all those shelves, in the OffLimits zone, there were MORE shelves, piled and Piled and PILED in mountains and stacks of treasure and happiness. I finally managed to ask the right person for permission to get back there on Wednesday, and spent nearly an hour poking through the books that were just on top, coming out with a measley pile of books that could have been much larger, except I didn't want to overdo it. I mean, yes, they were 25 and 50 cents apiece, but I'm already having book space issues!

Well, by Friday, I'd been haunted by those lonely, neglected, rejected books, until I didn't really care if I overdid it. Me and my man went back, popped back into that section, and started looking with a vengeance. But by the time we had a really good stack of books going - fantastic books, painting and art and photography and carpentry and welding, some guitaring books of Metallica music for my little brother, and even a little hardback of Marguerite Henry's Born to Trot, complete with full color pages of Wesley Dennis illustrations (I still to this day ADORE his drawings) - a stack so tall we probably should have been calling it quits before we simply couldn't tote them all - an old man appeared at the entrance to the aisle.

What are you doing? he asked, arms folded, cranky expression fixed in place.

Looking for books, I replied. We asked if we could come back here and...

You're not allowed back here. It's not fair to the other customers. You need to get out of here.

Well look, we've got a bunch of books that we want, can't we still buy them?

No, leave the books, you're not allowed back here, it's not fair to other customers.

Well, what's the process of these books moving forward to the regular part of the store? Because we really want these books.

You can't have the books. It's not fair to the rest of the customers.

Frustrated, we left. I sulked. A lot. And kept sulking, and kept sulking, and kept sulking. My man was convinced (and he's pretty good at reading people, since that's what he makes his living doing) that the old man had taken it very personal that we were back there, and felt as though that was his very own stash. He convinced me to call the store, where I spoke to the manager, who supported the man's notion that we didn't belong back there, but for insurance purposes, but said that since we had books that we had wanted anyway that we should have been able to get them. She took my number, and went to look for the books. When she called back, she said she couldn't find the books. There were no stacks of art books. (!!!!)

More sulking.

The next day, I think my man was pretty tired of the sulking, so we went back, grabbed an unsuspecting employee, who was unwittingly dragged into our plot, and who escorted us back again, thankfully staying back there to help. I found the books - all scattered in. It became pretty evident that the old man had no intention of anyone getting anything out of there, after I had to once more DIG for the same books. The carpentry books never resurfaced. My man theorizes that CrankyButt took them home with him. Finally, with two armloads full of the same books, we escaped with our loot. I haven't counted how many we got, it was somewhere around 15 or so, and I paid $6.50. Score.

And later that night I used a gift card to buy another art book from Barnes & Noble.

I'm terrible. Anybody have some bookshelf ideas that are super quick?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Little Artwork Torture

This stupid snow won't go away. There's no fabric to play with, no garage to drag my plywood into so I can cut it... Though I must say, a certain crafting station I saw on Design*Sponge really made me start thinking that a proper dresser (much like, ohhh, say, the one I just gave away as a Christmas present...) could be turned into a rather happy storage situation for crafts and such...

I'm not crazy about the gray, or the very exposed trays - since my space is limited to my bedroom due to a roommate situation rather than a private situation, all that exposure would just make my bedroom look like it's messier than it already actually is - but the gears are still turning. If I could find one wide enough to accommodate my two Walmart bookshelves... but I dunno, and I already have plywood cutting, so really, I'm just torturing myself doing this.

So, otherwise, I've been occupied with my Illustration class, which has finally resumed after the Great Southern Blizzard of '11. We're finally working on actual drawing type stuff (last week I was very unhappy to spend a lot of time on collaging, which I hate), and this last project is an abecetary (eventually I'll figure out how to spell this), which is an illustrated alphabet. I'm sure you've all seen some sort of what I'm talking about at some point in your life... I know there was one when I was a kid that was illustrated so beautifully that we'd all actually fight to look at it. Can't for the life of me remember what it was called though.

But here's mine. They're still in the sketching/rough stage, and hopefully will be transferred into Illustrator tomorrow. The little Appaloosa horse is an established character based on a pony I used to have, who is still very much missed and loved despite his being gone for seven years. His name is Coco, and the little girl is named Allison, with her little Fievel (sp?) hat, jumper, tights, and crazy hair - not to mention attitude - I've really come to enjoy drawing her. , Think Calvin and Hobbs, with an alphabet thrown in. And a horse instead of a tiger.

Upon thinking of it, I never have had a character that actually described me very consistantly, who would always be recognizable. I really think Allison is kind of me, with my silliness, mischief, stubbornness, and love. Sorry, corny moment there. Carry on.

E is for escapades that we shouldn't have gone on.

F is for friends, because we love them. (the sign on Allison says "kick me")

G is for grownups, because we surely aren't them.

And that's soda, not alcohol in the last image. They're having a burping contest. Just in case anyone was worrying.

L is for llamas, but Allison prefers lugubriousness.

M is for markers, because we're all about spontaneous art.

O is for oscillating ... (aaaaaaand I haven't finished the wording or the illustration yet.)

And this next one is just a chalk pastel piece that I'm rather happy with. Yes, it's been more finished than this, but no, I don't have either more updated pictures or the piece itself... my Drawing instructor is holding it hostage over the holidays. This is a commissioned piece, the horse is AQHA Flits Mad Dash, barrel horse, breeding stud.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fixin' Some Stuff... and a Weather Interruption

So I had some issues with starting my cabinet project. First off, don't use your tailgate as a sawhorse. When you accidentally cut into it, that metal WILL mess up your blade, and then you have to take everything apart and drive to Lowe's, because OF COURSE you don't have extra blades for your circular saw. And then it snows, and of course we Mississippians are complete pansies and WILL freak out when it snows.

This was sometime around midnight on Sunday night. There's around 7 inches at least built up at this point, and it's still coming. This morning when I slid open the barn door, there was (I swear!) something like a foot of drift. Crazy, man! Also, if you look closely, you can't tell the new damage to the truck via the saw vs. the old damage. LOVE my beater Tundra! I swear, if I had a nice truck, I would have started crying.

So my cabinet is on hold, along with my slipcovers (which are left on the wingchairs, half-finished, in Jackson, until I get back there during a break from school), AND my intercession class (how on EARTH are we supposed to make up TWO days of a TEN DAY class?!)... which leaves me with ...

I dunno.

I started reading Vanity Fair, which villifies poor Becky a lot more than the movie did.

I rode in the snow, which was ethereal. A broad pasture full of smooth, unblemished snow is dizzying - almost like you're riding across a white void. Fancy kept having to slam on the brakes and put her nose in the snow, just to make sure the ground was still there. Yay for an insecure horse! lol

I fixed her warm blanket. I'm not sure how she did it, but she yanked one of the rear leg straps clean off, in the middle of the strap. So I washed the whole thing, twice, with plenty of baking soda to get the poo smell out, and then used my handy-dandy new sewing machine to fasten the strap back on, and then reinforce some of the other straps where they were coming loose at the joint (is that the right word? where they connected to the blanket). Now if I can just get some fabric to fix the neckline, since it sits so badly on her withers... drat this area for having only one fabric store, in a very inconvenient location, and two Walmarts with ridiculously stupid crafts sections. Obviously I didn't change my thread, but I figure she'll stain that white into brown quickly enough... The strap on the left is the one that she snapped. But I'm VERY happy to have my sewing machine. Otherwise, I'd have had to consider this blanket messed up, wasted, and it would have been trashed (or horded, since I likely would have been convinced that someday I could fix it or something...).

So now, considering the temps, we'll likely still have a frigid, snow-covered day again tomorrow, and no class YET AGAIN (I wonder, will I ever learn illustration techniques at this rate?), I get to wander through yet another aimless day. Maybe I'll accomplish something though, who knows?

Also, please, please, please don't judge me for the trashy looking area around where my truck is parked, or the nasty vinyl "wood" flooring. I rent, and I get what I get. The fact that my horse lives downstairs has made almost everything bearable. ...except my landlord, who has bad temper tantrums... lol

Also, just to throw this in, I had the obligation honor of decorating my folks' house over December, pre- and post-Christmas. So here's the mantle, since I haven't shown it off yet.

For Christmas.

I wish I had pictures from previous years. This is a HUGE improvement. For all that everybody always expects me to churn out something interesting every year, I was never really given much to work with. But this year, I was allowed to pick a theme and run with it - complete with credit card. The apothecary jars, garland, and mirror are new. I felt like a mirror was necessary in this really very dark room.


Keeping with the apothecary jars, and the ever-present brass candlesticks, I changed out some of the white tapers from Christmas, put my grandmother's mantle clock back up, and started fiddling around with little decor things from around the house. Ended up with a bird theme, and then pulled out my grandmother's Lady with Lamb figurine, and my Dad's rather corny anniversary gift to my Mom, the Snuggling Couple figurine. Never leave him with no gift ideas!

It still looks rather unfinished. Since the whole thing is essentially a frame over a big, colonial reproduction cooking fireplace, it really needs to be done *just right*. And I haven't figured that out yet. And of course, the antique candlesticks are varying widths, so the ability to get straight-looking tapers varies, and kind of looks silly.

Meh, that's it. Wholly uninteresting, I'm sure.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Uh oh! I saw Ana White's Sketchup tutorial last night and kind of got going on that... next thing I know I've got my cheap Walmart bookshelf drawn out on it (the medium height, 3 shelf model that sells for about $15 in my area) and I'm going from there to building a cabinet to set it on. And of course today I couldn't help but stop by Home Depot to snag some plywood.

You see, I'm in a bit of a tight spot. I had gotten a bookshelf about 6 years ago, by Thomas O'Brian's Target line, that was beautiful.I FOUGHT to get this bookcase. There are 2 Targets in the Jackson area, and I hounded both of them for three months before either got this bookshelf in - couldn't even order it online, and yet there it was, standing on display in both stores! I got this home and didn't even wait for my boyfriend to get home to put it together (back then that boyfriend hoarded, rather jealously, all construction rights). And promptly loaded it with my rather hefty collection of books. And it all FIT! And still had room for picture frames! It was a miracle! However, I should have taken the hint from the model that was being dropped from Target's line, and was later replaced by a smaller, sturdier, though decidedly less attractive version.

Fast forward 4 years: I'd broken up with that boyfriend, and stowed this shelf in my folks' garage with the rest of my stuff while I moved around in transition, until I finally settled down in the rental house with my older brother. The place was a ranch built in maybe the 60s, with a foundation typical of a lower end home sitting on top of yazoo clay: slightly wavy. And I didn't realize it, but the wall I placed my lovely bookshelf on sloped down away from the wall. So here I was several months later, with a fully (heavily) loaded bookshelf that I realize is beginning to lean over the bed, evidently contemplating dumping my brass and/or marble bookends on my skull in my sleep. Either set features a wonderfully spiky unicorn head, so it could potentially end up a rather gory situation. So I purchased the first of my little Walmart bookshelves, reduced the load on my lovely bookcase, did what I could to ease it back to the wall, and moved on.

Fast forward to the present day: I'm back in school with a new apartment with blessedly flat floors, but the bookshelf continues to look dangerously unstable despite the lesser weight. After literally tying it back to the wall for a while, and then later using my little dining table against it to hold it there, it's finally been deconstructed. The refugee books have formed their camp on my little dumpster rescue hutch that's been serving as my entryway console table/shelf/thingy, but they're over capacity, with my textbooks from 4 semesters simply piled on top as neatly as possible. My keys, as little often as they ended up there like they were supposed to (I am forever losing my keys!), now have no clean surface to be set on, when I think to do that. On top of this, my art supply cabinet (also from Walmart, the tall skinny one) is also beyond capacity, since I'm taking art classes (yay art supplies), doing woodwork rather regularly (yay power tools like circular saws and such), and of course now there's the new sewing machine from Christmas and all its fun supplies that have yet to begin accumulating (my crochet supplies have long since been relegated to a little storage ottoman).

I am grossly under-storage-optioned. I can't even shove artwork under the bed anymore since my bedframe broke after an ill-aimed flop collapsed a leg - and I promise, I am not even anywhere near overweight! I have books piling up, and of course I can't help but snag new ones fairly often - especially new old hardback classics from thrift stores. I need storage - lots of it - and my budget is TINY. I am an unemployed college student, after all! And so it falls down to my being stuck with having to make just the right thing for myself! Which leads me back around to the Sketchup drawing.
The top half is the Walmart bookshelf, plus an added trim around the top. The bottom is a 2 shelf, 32 5/8" tall, 15" deep, 29 1/2" wide cabinet that can host my spillover books and tools. Since I have 2 of these bookshelves, I'll work to get 2 of these cabinets constructed, before making the bookcases themselves obsolete with a taller, perhaps ceiling-height, 5-shelf model, made by myself. Because quite honestly, these are a bit short... I've actually got them stacked on top of each other right now and it's an awkward looking height.

At least that's the plan. I do get a bit ambitious sometimes. Remember: I have no patience! But I have a weekend ahead of me with only a little bit of collaging competing for time for my intercession Illustration class. It should even snow Sunday, so I can spend my day warm and indoors playing with plywood. So be watching for later this weekend!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Present Dresser Pt 2 and Starting to Sew!

Hola! So I finally finished that dratted dresser. After many, many, many, many, many coats of crappy black paint, which I finally finished up with a coat of spray-on poly, which left white marks on the black, and so which finally got sprayed over with All-Purpose Rustoleum (at $9/can, it had better finally protect those drawers!), as well as getting those shelves finished out (thanks, Dad!), and the top stained (and resanded and restained again after a surprise rain spotted the finish)....

The dresser is finished and out of my hair!

And no, it's not crooked, I've got one side propped up on a skateboard so I can maneuver this monster around without having to ask for help.

Thank goodness! I was actually rather sick of dealing with that thing. There's only so many repaintings and touchups that I have patience for (and I'm really not a very patient person).

So let's compare this to the before:

So now, after I got my awesome Bernina Activa 210 sewing machine for Christmas (really my only Christmas present, except for a crazy whisk that my brother got me - I have a thing for whisks), I have begun the easiest project under the sun - slipcovering wingchairs!

Using the handy-dandy tutorial from Much To Do With Nothing's blog, I have made a cushion cover, which I messed up somewhat, and I'm working on the rest of the chair today. LOTS AND LOTS of pinning, marking, and cutting. I feel like I'll spend all of today just making pieces to stick together tomorrow.At least I can use these pieces to trace out pieces for the other chair... lol! But compare that green and white fabric peeking out to the white all over. SO much brighter in that dark room!

But that's it for now!