Because crafts are like crack.

Little boy gifts are my FORTe December 23, 2011

Filed under: General Crafting,Sewing — Casey @ 10:47 am

It is so difficult to find a gift for a four year old boy that does not include lights, sirens or laser repeating action. For the sake of parents, I usually try to give gifts that run on imagination instead of batteries.

This Fort Kit might be the most adorable thing I have ever seen. What a great way to encourage a budding engineer. A thriftier, more resourceful person could make one of these out of things around the house. A poor planner like myself ends up buying a lot of the supplies. And finishes a few hours before giving it thanks to the help of my mother, father and husband. Hence the poorly lit photo.

I found some great flat sheets at Target that could be purchased separately from the fitted sheets and come in a little bag that could be re-purposed. Most everything else came from Lowe’s.

I hope this will bring fort-building fun for years to come.


You… light up my crafts….. January 5, 2011

Filed under: General Crafting,Photography — Casey @ 12:16 am

This is the thing that you need, but you don’t have and now are going to make whether you craft or not. I promise you need one if you have a camera.

Have you ever noticed how some people capture such amazing close up shots while others have such tragic results?

The above is an example of the tragic variety. That is supposed to be ice cream, not toxic sludge. There are actually many flaws here, including focus and composition, but I contend that the craptastic lighting is the reason this picture was never going to be good. The light source is too close and is obviously coming from one small point up and to the right, creating the dementors of photographic shadows.

This picture demonstrates significantly better lighting. It was also taken at night and the only light sources were the overhead ambient light in the room and a desk lamp with a single 100Watt incandescent bulb.

The secret is building a light box.  This is a tool many professional photographers and ebay auctioneers use to get soft, indirect light on a subject. To purchase a light box might take approximately $100, but I made mine with things I had lying around the house. Take that Hoarders… an old box can be used again!

I started my light box with a box from Crate and Barrel. Unbelievably, I had a few of those lying around after the holidays. The idea is to open three sides of the box to allow in more light, so we turn the box on its long side.

Beginning on one short side, I marked about 2 inches in from the edge.

I used a Sharpie to draw a rectangle with a two inch frame on the side of the box. I chose to leave the flaps (that originally would have been the top flaps of the box) intact and use those to block a glare if necessary. However, my rectangle did extend about two inches into the flaps because I was a little worried that the openings might not let in enough light otherwise.

I then used a utility knife to cut out the rectangle. Remember to keep any digits to which you are attached out of the path of your cutting if you would like to stay attached to them. I always have a couple close calls.

Repeat this for the second short side and the top so that three sides are open.

Be sure to leave the back (formerly the bottom of the box) as well as bottom (formerly one of the long sides of the box) uncut in order to maintain structure.

To filter the light, any white translucent material may be used. This is what will prevent harsh shadows. I would imagine fabric would work great, but I have plenty of freezer paper lying around. I cut pieces large enough to cover the three holes and attached them with masking tape.

I used a length of white muslin for the interior of the box, but patterned fabrics or a poster board would work well too.

I secured the fabric to the top rear of the box using mini-clothespins just because I had some.

As mentioned earlier,  I used a desk lamp as my light source.

I would really like to get a better light bulb, but for now I have adjusted the white balance on my camera to compensate for the yellow cast of the light. Compare the yellow cast of the picture below to that above.

And this is the final product! I am really excited to try varying light sources and backgrounds. Not bad for free!

And if anyone has a tutorial for a device that automatically cleans after a crafting session, I would be very interested. As you can see, my dining room table is currently consumed.


Should auld projects be forgot… December 31, 2010

Filed under: General Crafting,My Life — Casey @ 9:47 pm

And never brought to mind! (please?)

2010 was quite the year as I started my new life as Mrs. V (well, not technically since I still haven’t changed my name). On the crafting front, this gave me a chance to really dip my toes into papercrafting. I got to venture into whole new aisles of the craft store! It was also the year that I started with Photoshop Elements and began exploring masks and actions. Still not really confident with that program. I am never sure if what I am doing is making the picture better or worse.

New Year’s marks not only the start of a new calendar year for me, but also the start of another of my trips around the sun; it is also my birthday! So this is my chance to really go beyond resolutions and set some goals. I need to create a little accountability for projects I have envisioned for years. Oh, and can we just pretend that I already workout three time a week, floss daily, and follow a strict budget and don’t need to make any resolutions in those areas? Phew. Thanks.

So here is my countdown to New Years:


This blogging is a new endeavor, but I would like to keep up with posts. Not only will this give my mom something to read, but it should help me keep focused on the remainder of my goals. Ideally I would like to average a post a week. Since I know there will be several weeks that I’ll be doing good to sleep, it wouldn’t hurt to work ahead during these cold months.


Hold a knitting and/or crochet “class”. I have so many people wanting to learn and I always talk about having a group over some weekend… but other things keep coming up. No more! 2011 will be the year of the yarn classes!


Complete a project for each baby born this year and make sure the baby receives it in a timely manner (way before the 1st birthday).


Complete a photobook for Costa Rica and wedding pictures including all of the editing.


Practice. Practice. Practice in Photoshop. I just need to spend a lot more time playing around.


Work through some UFOs.


Put together a real crafting center that works. No more dragging 6 boxes upstairs for each project.


Finish decorating the bedroom. Say goodbye to the last of the dorm furniture and create a peaceful space to which we can return each night.


Throw 4 parties… preferably with themes.


And as a Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to me… I will make something nice for myself this year.

So here’s to a Happy and Crafty 2011!


Merry Christmas to all! December 25, 2010

Filed under: General Crafting — Casey @ 11:02 pm

We have had a wonderful holiday and Santa brought some exciting crafting surprises. I made a couple gifts, but focused a lot of energies on my present wrapping.

I think I might be in post wedding paper product withdrawal as I found myself creating elaborate gift tags. And we are going to ignore the amount of money I spent on ribbons this year.

I even created gift receipt envelopes!

One might think that the end of the holiday season would signal a break in the crafting, but for every project completed, two spring up in its place!


Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! December 12, 2010

Filed under: General Crafting — Casey @ 5:35 pm

When it looks like this outside…

I figure it is Mother Nature’s way of telling me to craft. Of course I assume that just about any time the mercury drops below 40 degrees. Essentially the axial tilt of the earth is all for my crafting pleasures.

These tote bags from ashleyannphotography.com seemed a perfect addition to a couple of Christmas presents. Maybe it is my need to carry needles and skeins everywhere I go, but I find I can never have enough totes. So I made a stop at Hobby Lobby earlier in the week and raided my craft corner.

I started by ironing the bags to make sure I could get a smooth final product. I used spray adhesive to stick the doilies to the bags. These are the twelve inch doilies, but a smaller doily would look great centered on the bag. Per the directions on the back of the can, I made sure to let the glue dry for a couple of minutes to make the bond tacky, but not permanent.  I made sure to press firmly all around.

I used acrylic paint, but fabric paint would work well. I started by using a sponge brush, but switched to a regular paintbrush as the sponge was applying way too much paint. I think I might try using a stippling brush the next time. Be sure to get all of the little holes and remove the doily while the paint is still wet.

While I waited for the paint to dry, I printed letters from the computer. I found a font I liked and used enlarged it to 400 pt. I traced letters onto the freezer paper, glossy side down and then cut out the letters with an exacto-knife. I found it worked best to pull the knife down towards me and turn the freezer paper as needed. Try to make as few as cuts as possible to prevent burrs on the paper. Remember these will make a stencil, so I had to save the center part of the A.

The stencils were then ironed onto the bags and filled in with a brush and paint.

I think the final product is cute enough to dress up a present. I will probably fill them with nice lotions or a pair of pajamas for some friends.

Some time in the future I will get some more doilies and try again with the paint. I have decided that a lighter hand is better. I was also a little surprised that the doilies were not reusable, but they seemed to lose shape after being peeled off. I may try to make it to the cake supply store to look for other variations of doily patterns. I have never noticed before if there was some sort of doily standardization.


Four weeks early or three years late? December 3, 2010

Filed under: General Crafting — Casey @ 10:46 pm

The following was a conversation with my brother.

Bro: “You cost me money.”

Me: “Hunh?”

Bro: “I bet you wouldn’t have P’s advent calendar finished until December 26.”

Me: “In fairness I meant to have it finished for his first Christmas.”

My unfinished objects are legendary. But I think this finished project is pretty cute.  And relatively simple.

It barely qualifies as a craft. I created some 2″x2″x2″ boxes and then filled those with some fun treats… M&M’s, bouncy balls, crayons, Silly Putty and whatever other tokens I could find in bargain bins. Each package was tied with twine and I attached numbers printed with a holiday font. The crate is a vintage Coca-cola bottle carrier I won on ebay.