Where Do All the Cigar Boxes Go?

I bought some more boxes, and now I’m wondering where all these amazing cigar boxes are going?! The cigar store owners seem to be very ready to get rid of them…like maybe it’s a problem related to selling cigars!

They're all so different!
They’re all so different!

I happened upon a new store recently and thought to ask about empty boxes. At first he said he sells them for $1.99 each, and that a man comes by every two months or so and buys them all – and he offers them to him for one dollar each at that time. I asked him what the man uses them for, but he hasn’t asked (ah well).

So then he offered me 11 boxes for $10. How can one resist? I mean, they’re so weird and different – every one! Some of them even have a little clasp to close them, like on my diary from a million years ago (e.g. childhood)!

So now I own “A LOT” of cigar boxes – some of which are being used for craft supplies (not labeled yet, so it’s a hunt-and-chase situation…mergh…:\ )

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They come in all shapes and sizes (what crafter isn’t “wow’ed” by that alone?!). The one on the left is a trapezoid (I think…whatever, it’s a weird shape!)

 

It has a magic slide top y'all. Seriously.
It has a magic slide top y’all. Seriously. Are cigar smokers doing magic now and we just didn’t realize it?

 

This box has a wooden partition in it that has the label glued on
This box has a wooden partition in it that has a label glued on the edge…which says “Hand Made.”

So much wow.

I think I’m officially addicted now to cigar boxes. (According to all the labels, I’m better off addicted to the boxes than the cigars…have to figure out how to remove all those useful labels…P.S. DON’T SMOKE…but check out smoke shops because they probably have some cool boxes sitting around that they want to get rid off).

 

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Sewing Machine Skills…Check!

I’m not sure exactly why I’ve been so afraid of using a sewing machine up until now…but I was. So I tackled that baby head-on and made two more tote bags (based on this one I made in class).

I learned a lot, made some mistakes (always a part of learning), and I now feel like I’ve conquered my sewing machine (enough to work it anyways). Today I filled a bobbin and threaded my machine with new thread (a first for me, unsupervised), and completed two more tote bags.

Another greenish theme allowed me to use the same thread in the machine as the last bag (lazy and/or addicted to this color palette)
Another greenish theme allowed me to use the same thread in the machine as the last bag (lazy and/or addicted to this color palette)

 

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This one is my favorite – the colors and prints make me inexplicably happy.

The lining inside on these is the same as the top print, which may seem like a waste of print material to some, but I enjoy the happy surprise of a party inside the bag and the darker print on the bottom will show less dirt.

Things to work on:

  • My measuring and cutting needs help – things didn’t line up as well as they did in class and I’m a bit baffled by it.
  • The straps don’t match up exactly on the bottom of my two new bags. I’ll ask the teacher how that might have happened (besides my earlier mentioned measuring/cutting challenges).
  • I forgot to stitch the top of each new bag and had to re-string the machine with the green thread. Pay attention to detail, and good on me for practicing threading the machine again. (What does everyone do with all those half-filled bobbins? Do you just keep buying more for new projects? Do you unwind them when you’re done? Seems like a lot of bobbins…)

In this Saturday’s class I’m going to start on some flannel pajama pants (there’s elastic involved…I’m a little nervous). Wish me luck!

Wet (Nuno) Felting

Today I spent too much time (and money) at my local fabric store buying supplies to make more tote bags (to make sure I know how to make them on my own – I like to repeat newly learned skills early on in hopes of keeping them long-term).

Sidenote: I think these tote bags might make good fund-raising items for a craft fair I participate in, so I also spent some time this evening sourcing cheaper supplies in bulk (I got the price of supplies down from $24/bag to $12/bag!). I thought it was surprising that the webbing (straps) and fusible lining (doesn’t show, but adds stability) were the most expensive at my local store. Much cheaper to buy online and in bulk, then I’ll probably choose my material and thread based on the webbing colors I can purchase online.

ANYWAYS…lighting didn’t work out for pics of those works in progress…so I’m going to show you my Nuno felted scarf from my recent art retreat.

From the web:
Nuno felting is a fabric felting technique developed by Polly Stirling, a fiber artist from New South Wales, Australia, around 1992. The name is derived from the Japanese word “nuno” meaning cloth. The technique bonds loose fibre, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze, creating a lightweight felt.

The beginning: 1st layer wool roving, then thin material, more wool roving. Bubble wrap and warm soapy water...and lots of agitation...
The beginning: 1st layer wool roving, then thin cotton material, then more wool roving. Bubble wrap and warm soapy water…and lots of agitation…

 

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time to work in the felt on the other end

 

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the material and wool before they got “felted into one”

 

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Happy artist wearing her wares!

 

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Another angle

 

In the Light at Home

It’s a frothy thing…

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Chard from the garden – so colorful!

I’m busy sewing up this corset. It’s amazing how many times I end up stitching each panel. I’m finishing seams tonight and hope to have something to try on soon.

In the meantime, here’s what I gathered from the garden for dinner tonight. Such inspiring colors!

the leaves are so big!
the leaves are so big! (see the cute mini-squash in the corner? they were good too)
I love the back view even more!
I love the back view even more!

Most of these leaves are bigger than my face (isn’t that cool when a plant produces such growth?! Chard is such a fiesta vegetable!) I took a few outliers to the neighbor’s chickens (2 new eggs today, both brown). Such a huge vibrant plant that cooks down so tiny so quick. 🙂

Back to netflix and hand-stitching…this corset WILL get done.

 

I used a sewing machine y’all!!

I am taking a sewing machine class that spans four Saturdays. My experience with sewing machines has been: hands-on in 7th grade (the dress I made didn’t fit well over my shoulders…), The End. So I’ve been hand-sewing and hand-mending for the last XX years, living in fear of sewing machines, broken needles and threading mysteries.

The first class we just talked about sewing materials and techniques, but today I hauled my new sewing machine into class and made a tote bag!!

the dark green panels are all pockets!
the dark green panels are all pockets!
the bottom - I made square corners y'all!
the bottom – I made square corners y’all!

 

I'm thrilled with these close stitches right on the edge (it's the small wins on the big projects that matter). Sewing machines are cool!
I’m thrilled with these close stitches right on the edge (it’s the small wins on the big projects that matter). Sewing machines are cool!

OK – So I’m going to sew up 12 more of these post-haste (not really…but I feel inspired!). Just as I suspected: sewing machines sew things up way faster than by hand (soo-prize!).

Kumihimo bracelets…WIP

These are fun and fairly quick to work up (despite the fact that I’m not done yet…need supplies…and rest 🙂 ). Aside: I’ve found it challenging and sometimes tiring to learn new techniques in new media every week. It’s been a great way to spend my sabbatical, but I definitely couldn’t jump around like this on a regular basis.

So first, the semi-end products:

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These need a variety of finishings: end caps, magnets, tassels. I’m liking the silk cord (two on left) more than the silk ribbon (bracelet on right).

 

This is what the ribbons looked like *after* I distressed them with water and *before* I wove them ever so tightly into that third bracelet on the right.
This is what the ribbons looked like *after* I distressed them with water and *before* I wove them ever so tightly into that third bracelet on the right.

Turns out I am a tight weaver coming out of the gate. It doesn’t seem to matter what project – if I’m weaving I’m pulling and holding things tight. I don’t think this is a good strategy all the time…so I’m working on it. In this case, there was a weight pulling the bracelet down through the loom, so I should have just let it do its’ job. I didn’t realize this until the end of the first bracelet (which was the silk ribbon one). Also, I’m not a fan of the big beads that line the ribbon bracelet…I have skinny wrists and these seem pretty big in scale for me. The smaller beads I could use on the silk cord (which is called “rattail” for enquiring minds) suited me better. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what size cord I used in the store to fit inside those beads (p.s. I still had to cut the ends of the cord at an angle then glue them into points before stringing on the beads…not the easiest part of the project.)

Here are some close-ups of the process, in case you’re not familiar.

Here's the disk needed - apparently these come in other shapes and you can make many different patterns.
Here’s the disk needed – apparently these come in square shapes as well and you can make many different patterns with each shape.

 

These cool plastic spools hang off the loom with the beads attached.
These cool plastic spools hang off the loom with the beads attached (they flip open/closed). The shiny thing in the middle is my highly technical weight (it’s a large metal nut, from my teacher). I like that they look like rudimentary flying saucers when they’re on the loom.
Here's a small beginning
Here’s a small beginning (I think I already accidentally missed a bead placement at this point…ah, first projects!).
Here's more bracelet - getting ready to remove it from the loom.
Here’s more bracelet – getting ready to remove it from the loom.

So I need to glue on end caps, use O-rings to attach magnets and put on tassels. I have the teacher’s email address if things get weird. 🙂

I’m looking into buying spools of this silk cord because I feel like I can’t get enough of this kumihimo weaving. It’s very meditative and I really enjoy it. Plus I love finishing projects within a few hours/days (so different from usual crochet projects).

 

Russian Spiral Jewelry…continued

Today I continued to work on these patterns and figure out the kinks (e.g. switching threads, tying off, clasp vs. connection for a roll-off bracelet).

Happy with my progress…

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It was fun seeing what different color combos created.
It was fun seeing what different color combos created.

The clasp on the third bracelet (from left) didn’t work out so I’m going to have to re-work it. (It’s tricky to get the “v” effect from those tiny connector beads (accomplished in the middle bracelet). Still learning, but happy to be wearing the first two bracelets…learning…!

Tomorrow I’m taking a class to learn how to make a Flat Ribbon Kumihimo Bracelet…pictures to follow!

Jewelry: Russian Spiral

I took a jewelry class today to learn how to bead the Russian Spiral pattern.

I messed up A LOT and created one and a half bracelets (I’ll probably re-do the half blue one pictured first below).

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It’s very loose and mooshy – as far as beading goes…but I really like this clasp – I’ll probably undo this bracelet and try again.

Here’s the semi-winner/runner-up of the day…

Interesting variations based on bead size and color...
Interesting variations based on bead size and color… 

I used size 11, red – size 11, rose gold – size 8, red (actual color numbers available on request. 🙂 )

Cool clasp - note that the top bead connect is cool. The bottom bead connect...not so cool...
Cool clasp – note that the top bead connect is cool. The bottom bead connect…not so cool…

I am learning, because it’s the name of the game.

I’m still not sure how to gracefully switch my needle from one set of threads to another (maybe I should just start with 6 full yards of thread – to avoid the tie-off problem mid-way?! Sounds like the possibility of lots-o-knots…). My bracelet is two different widths for some reason (first half is “fatter” and after I tied off and re-started the second half is “skinnier.” I haven’t figure out why yet – same stitches – same threads….) Maybe my gauge keeps getting tighter with my bead stitching as I go along.

Making art and figuring it out as I go along…

Patterns and Rhythms, in Nature and Life

I’m busily sewing up this Alabama Chanin Stitch Corset featured (in pieces) in this post: Hand Stitching a Garment. I’ve since embellished it with beads and I’m putting in seams on all the pieces. There’s more before the end…pics to come.

Meanwhile, here’s some beautiful patterns I saw during our recent San Diego Arboretum visit.

a hollowed out log
a hollowed out log
These brown strands were not on every leaf...
These brown strands were not on the underside of every leaf…
I was so enraptured I forgot to read the sign telling me what this enchanting plant's name is...
I was so enraptured I forgot to read the sign telling me what this enchanting plant’s name is…

Lots of looking up for these pictures, and it was so worth it!