Monday, October 31, 2016

DIY Wall art - When bad things happen to good people

When I created this month's project calendar I wasn't planning in having today's DIY, but after an awful experience that got me annoyed for a couple of days I realized that I needed to do something to get those feelings out of my system.

It's interesting because I have never think of crafts as a remedy but instead as a very pleasant activity that helps me materialize thoughts and ideas that go running in my mind, sometimes even in my dreams, but a few weeks ago I definitely felt that I needed something to recover my usual zen state.

Bad things happen all the time, I'm conscious of that (and willing to deal with that) but I recently had a very uncomfortable situation with one of my suppliers when we were discussing some orders' details and she simply started acting very rude.

The worst thing wasn't that she was not even willing to discuss the issue, instead was her absolute lack of professionalism, because I couldn't imagine being that bitchy with no one, not a friend, not a family member and absolutely not with a customer, in fact, such behavior is simply not acceptable.

We are talking about a (moody) supplier that has consistently messed our orders, charging us incorrect amounts, delivering incomplete orders unable to effectively communicate the delivery dates for the pending items, and somehow even with those BIG issues we were willing to make business with them just because we really loved their products.

In some way I feel guilty for letting things go this far, we should had start looking for a replacement months ago instead of carrying that troubled relationship, specially since all the negotiations were performed directly with the head of their company and since day one it was clear that they had a lot of problems in their organization, but as she told me that day: I should mind my own business (yes, she did say that)

I still don't know how, but I was able to end that conversation in the most polite way, notified my team of the issue, have someone else assigned to deal with their pending order, we internally cancelled the planned orders and start looking for new providers.

Now we are thinking we might start producing that line ourselves, maybe not everything was bad after all, in the end it turned to be a painful lesson learned, but hey, we're still mastering this thing of running a business.

It was the largest intro for any of the projects, but the point was that I wanted to find a way to get something positive from such negative situation and when I found a nice quote in pinterest I knew that I have a task to be completed.

Today's project is a wall art that invites people to be nice with a pun intended.

DIY wall art to keep rude people away

Difficulty: Easy 
Time required: It took me a couple of sessions of 2 hours each, total 4 hours
Supplies needed:

  1. Fabric
  2. Scissors
  3. Glue
  4. Permanent marker
  5. 2 paint brushes
  6. A palette
  7. Acrylic paint: black, and two tones of green
  8. Tree Leaves
  9. A couple of sticks 
  10. Printed letters to use as stencil

Let's do this:

1) Create our canvas

Start by cutting your fabric in the desired shape, for my wall art I decided that I wanted to cut a large rectangle.

Once cut bend it to mark a "seam"

Use the glue to paste the seam, this will secure the ends of the fabric.

2) Add your message

Using your printed letters as stencil mark them on your fabric using the permanent marker.

I bended the fabric to have a reference of where the middle was to help me positioning the letters

It doesn't have to be perfect as we are going to paint inside the letters

Now start filling the letters using the black acrylic paint

Keep going until your message is done, then let it dry.

3) Add the leave stamps

Mix your green acrylic paint in your palette to get different shades: 

Paint on the back of a leave until it is completely covered by a thick coat. For this type of "stamps" it's prefered to use the back of the leave as this side is the one that is full with details that will  create the better "print"

Now press against your fabric

As noticed in the picture below my leaves were not fully defined, I've seen other tutorials where the leaves resulted perfect, not sure if this was because of the leaves  or the type of paint I chose but it's OK, this can be fixed:

Using the same brush with the remaining paint draw inside the leaves to shape them with very subtle strokes:

With a green marker trace the silhouette of the leaves.

Repeat the paint strokes and marker touches until your satisfied with the result.

4) "Frame" it

Place the branches in the top and bottom then glue as we did with the seams, let it dry and you'll be done.

I hanged my wall art in our balcony (although it might be more useful in our front door), 

I was a little upset when my leaves where not fully stamped but now that I see the final result with the subtle leaves I think that I like it even more, it's a little more "artsy" , this must be what Bob Ross used to call "Happy accidents" (or at least that is how it was translated in the Spanish transmission)

I will probably be adding more leaves to this wall art, but by now it has accomplished its mission of turning a bad experience to something nice, and I must say that this looks better in person than in picture.

They say that this world is full of nice people, and that if you can't find one, then you must become one, so please remember this the next time that you feel surrounded by toxic people, it takes only one to make a difference.

Hope you liked today's project (it was cathartic for me), next week we'll resume with the holiday's crafts as we are getting closer to the best season of the year.

Until then take care, OK?


Monday, October 24, 2016

DIY: Create homemade oatmeal and honey soap bars (for you or to give away this Xmas)

For anyone that knows me is not a secret that I've always suffered of sensitive skin, I'm usually fighting with dry areas and not so dry areas and can't even think in skipping my night face wash, otherwise I'll wake up with unpleasant red marks or even worst: pimples.

Everytime I visit either a dermatologist or get a facial cleansing I got reminded how I have one of the most sensitive skins of all, specially for someone with a medium complexion, what can I tell them?, I have been like this all my life.

Some weeks ago I was browsing YouTube looking for fruit facial masks and found a video with an Asian girl that had the most beautiful skin, she said her secret was washing her face with oats and showed a before and after picture, it was unbelievable how she could turn her damaged skin to the radiant and glowing aspect that she has now.

I started cleaning my face with oats twice a day and almost immediately started feeling and seeing the changes, I also started drinking more water because there is absolutely no treatment  that can help your skin if you are not hydrating your body

Below you can see my face as it is today (no makeup involved), I mean there are visible wrinkles and moles but it's the smoothest my skin has look in years (and I just noticed how I urgently need to do something with my almost non-existent eyebrows)

Using the oats have been great but everytime I washed my face it was chaotic, no matter how cautious I was, there would be oats in the sink, in the floor and sometimes in my hair, so I decided that I'd find an easier way to continue my oat love  without doing a mess.

After much consideration (and a lot of research) I resolved to create my own oat soap bars, which  I though would also be a great blog topic thinking in holidays gift, right? The best part is that most of the ingredients/tools can be found in your kitchen.

DIY: Oat and honey Soap bars

Difficulty: Extremely Easy 
Time required: 30 minutes for preparation/24 hours to get ready
Supplies needed:

  1. 500 grams of glycerin - easily found in any soap/craft store
  2. 3/4 cup blended oats (uncooked/ unflavored)
  3. 3 teaspoons of oats
  4. 2 teaspoons of honey (it's moisturizing and antibacterial!)
  5. Any silicone mold you already have 
  6. Kitchen knife
  7. A couple of glass/ceramic containers
  8. Plastic spoon or a wood stick (I used a Popsicle stick)
  9. Optional: Food coloring
  10. Optional: Essential oil/fragrance

Let's do this

1) Get the glycerine ready

Start by cutting the glycerine block in little pieces

Place the little pieces in one of your containers:

You'll start melting the glycerine putting the container inside your microwave in 10-15 seconds cycles to avoid burning it, stirring with your spoon/stick everytime you take the container out of the microwave to dissolve any lump.

You'll be done once your glycerine is liquid.

2) Mix the rest of the ingredients

Pour your liquid glycerine on your second container

Add the blended oats & the honey

And mix with the aid of the spoon/stick

3) Mould it

Place some un-blended oats in your mould, just a few (this is only for decorating purposes)

then pour your glycerine-oat-honey mix inside the mould cavities:

4) Optional Step: Adding color and odor

If you decided to add color and flavor just need to put a few drops of both the food coloring and the fragrance/essential oil, mix again and pour it to the mould.

I decided to do it both ways: uncolored & unscented for the bars that were intended for the face wash, but I added some color and fragrance for those that would be gifted and used for the hands or body wash.

If you'll be buying food coloring I recommend to stick to the primary colors (yellow, red and blue) and use those to create the desired shade.

I'd also recommend using essential oils for soap instead of fragrances, the difference is that while both will add a delicious smell to your soaps, using essential oils will also  provide all the associated qualities of the selected plant/fruit.

5) Un-mould and enjoy

Once your moulds are filled let them rest until the next day:

Now you can take your soap out of the mould, you'll just need to pop it out

And you are done now!

I played with different colors, red for the hearts, purple for the tulip and orange for the margarita, I just can't believe how incredibly easy it was to create my natural soap bars and I'm excited with the unlimited options, I'm thinking in floral soaps, fruit soaps, I can even imagine those smells in my house mm mm.

You can also create a soap bar with your favorite perfume essence adding some drops in the mix.

If you want to gift them just need to wrap them, maybe put them in a cardboard box, print some labels and voilá.

Oh and one more thing, don't worry about damaging your containers/moulds, the glycerine can be easily removed because once dry you can peel it just by pulling it from any surface.

Hope you liked today's project, if you are still hesitating in the whole soap making you can start by using the oats in your face wash and you'll probably get hook just as I did.


Monday, October 17, 2016

DIY: Reading nook conversational wall art in an hour (or less)

Since we decided that our house style would be Minimalist-Scandinavian we've been very cautious on the elements that are added, from furniture to pictures, carpets, appliance, you name it.

As we also embraced the declutter movement we make sure that anything that we add is essential because we don't want to end up with a bunch of disposable junk.

With that in mind I have been analyzing the possibility to add an interesting hand made wall art that I found in Pinterest:

The "bon appetit" art was linked to Anthropology´s website and I was so in love with it that I started browsing their site to order one BUT when I read the reviews I was very disappointed to see that most of the people was complaining because the item they received was simply too small.

I decided that I wouldn't order it but somehow I keep seeing it in Pinterest and thinking how it was love at first sight, a love that simply couldn't be, until I saw the following image:

This image was attached in a tweet where there was a message about how we need to remember to stay present instead of living through a smart phone screen, I loved the idea of being unplugged and after some meditation I though that this was the project that I would be creating next, a wall art made of an electric cable.

That moment of inspiration made me think of a quiet corner in our house where we have a very comfortable coach and where we keep magazines and books, I've been thinking that this might be the perfect reading nook and I finally was convinced once that I pictured this space with the "unplug" sign on the wall, it would be THE place to read, to rest and to simply get disconnected from everything else.

DIY: Conversational wall art in an hour (or less)

Difficulty: Easy 
Time required: 60 minutes (or less)
Supplies needed:

  1. Your desired message printed (use a font that keeps all letters linked without spaces in between)
  2. Electric cable (any kind is good, just make sure you can bend it as required, I used 2 meters (78 inches approx) 
  3. A simple plug
  4. All purpose glue (hot silicone is also a good option)
  5. Mini binder clips
  6. Tweezers
  7. Removable Mounting tape

Let's do this:

1) Form your letters

Place the plug in one side of the cable (just for measuring purposes) and start bending it following the printed sign:

Use your fingers to press the cable so it takes the desired form, once you got it right you can use the tweezers to secure that position.

As you can see my cable was very malleable so I could keep bending it simply using my hands

While bending your cable, you might encounter  some portions that you can´t replicate exactly as the printed letters, that is OK, simply find an easier way to place your cable, you can check in the image below how my "g" and my "p" where slightly different from the source but it didn't impacted the final result.

2) Glue, glue glue

Once you are done with the letters, use your fingers (or a q-tip as pictured below)  and start applying glue in the conjunctures to secure your letters:

The glue that I used required me to first apply a little in both of the surfaces that I'd put together, wait some minutes then press one against the other and wait again:

I used the mini binders as clamps to allow the glue to dry:

3) Adding the plug

Although this "plug" is only for decoration I though it would be better to perform an "installation" close to what I would do if I wanted it to be functional:

I stripped the end of the cable with the tweezers, then remove the plastic and pass the cable through the plug.

I placed the end of the cable around one of the screws then secured the screw then close it.

4) Mounting it

With the aid of scissors I cut small pieces of mounting tape:

I removed one side's protection plastic and glued to my letters:

I repeated this step along the letters and placed a larger piece of mounting tape on the plug:

Once it was all covered with the tape it's ready for the wall:

And you are done now, this is how it looks in my wall:

And this is how it looks in my reading nook corner, you can see my couch, some cushions and my wall art.

This picture was taken with natural light, as there is a large window behind the couch you can see how bright this space which make it just perfect for my reading purposes (and it's not far from the kitchen, what else can I ask for?)

By the way, it doesn't look that uneven in person, not sure if this was because of the perspective that it looks kind of odd (or it's just me?)

Hope you liked today's project, you should use this technique to create your own message, the "bon appetit" phrase would look incredible in your kitchen or any phrase that gets you going and that you won't mind seeing everyday, which by the way, is the reason I used mounting tape, because I want to be able to move it somewhere else if I ever get tired of seeing it at that space.

Before I go I must say that I'm incredibly excited for the coming posts as I have already started listing holiday's crafts, easy home made gifts that don't suck, centerpieces and ornaments, can you believe we're only 10 Friday's far from Christmas?

Anyway, hope you have a great week, take care!