Monday, June 20, 2011

A Girl and Her Cuff: A love story

I'm not one to shy away from crafts with a lot of time consuming steps, but I LOVE projects like this that serve to remind me that some of my favorite things are the simplest and quickest to make.

As evidence: Comet Wrap Cuff
(space background to aid in visualizing the comet aspect)
Once upon a time, this leather strap was attached to one of my bags. I soon realized the bag was way cooler as a large oversized clutch, so off went the strap to my craft room until a new use for it presented itself. I found my inspiration when some brass charms showed up at work in a pile of things to be thrown out.

*leather handbag strap
*3 miscellaneous charms
*2 rivets
*copper O-ring
*brass hook
The first step to transforming this into a bracelet was to cut off the metallic clips at both ends of the strap and replace them with better looking hardware that would also make getting the bracelet on and off much easier.
I started with the O-ring, folding one of the strap ends around it. I picked a good place to put the rivet and marked it with an ink pen.
Next, I used an awl to puncture the leather over the mark (making sure to go all the way down to the mat). When I unfolded the strap, this mark had been transfered to the other side of the fold. Directly over these these two marks, I made the actual hole with my punch and mallet.
Now I just needed to set the rivet.
*If you haven't set a rivet before, but wanna know how click here.
And the first end was done.
I repeated these same steps on the end of the strap, now with the hook, beginning with marking the rivet's placement.
Ultimately, both ends ended up looking like this: nicely finished and ready to encase my arm.
The only thing left to do was place the charms. I wanted them located in the center of the strap, so that when the bracelet ends were hooked together on the back of my wrist, the charms would be centered in the front.

Using the awl, I pre-punched a hole in the leather where the charm would be secured, and sewed it into place. I repeated this to attach the second and third charms.This was followed by making new holes in the leather at the bottom of the charm, on either side of the pendulum, and stitching down. Aside, from anchoring the charms more securely, this also prevented the pendulums from being able to move around (i.e. be less annoying to wear).I had hoped to sell this piece on Etsy but I, uh... ended up wearing it.
I took it down from my shop that day and it's mostly been on my wrist ever since.

*leather punch
*rivet setter and pedestal
*needle and thread
*cutting mat

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Grandma's Upholstered Mirror

This project was 100% inspired by discovering that I owned a handheld mirror. I know they're incredibly useful for hairstyling and such, but anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that my most complicated hair fashions are matted bun or disguising the mysterious dreadlock I wake up with every morning into a braid. Before adding the mirror to the Goodwill pile, I decided to brainstorm a bit. Not only did I get something viable from all of the junk I combined, but the result also had sentimental value to me thanks to a 40 year old fabric remnant from my grandmother's sofa.

Materials used:
*2 frames of varying size without glass
*backing material
*handheld mirror
*black paint

Not a whole lotta prep work was involved, but right away I wanted to get past the part of the project that could’ve made the rest of the steps moot: getting the mirror out of its plastic casing without it shattering. I prepared for the possible breakage by laying down some newspaper on my work surface and wearing a pair of gardening gloves. The thin, crappy plastic turned out to be easily snipped away, but ultimately I did leave some of it attached where it had been glued to the back of the mirror. It was too thin to affect the finished results and to fuss with it any more definitely would've been tempting fate.

Another step that I wanted to get out of the way was painting the small frame to match the big one. This included not only the top and sides, but because my mirror wasn't an exact fit for the frame, I painted its underside as well. Otherwise, when I glued the frame to the mirror, the contrasting color of the bottom side would have been visibly reflected.

To begin assembly I first decided where on the backing board to position the mirror, making sure it was far enough from the side for there not to be any overlap between the two frames. Once it was in a good spot, I hot glued it down, then set the small frame over it and traced around. This would prevent me from having to guess its exact position when it was time to glue it into place.

Next, I put lots of hot glue down onto the backing and began sticking the stuffing to it.

Once this step was done, I draped my fabric over the whole thing and cut away of the excess with the exception of an inch on all sides. Then I drew an X on the fabric just over the center of the mirror.

I took the fabric off of the mirror and placed it on a cutting board so that the X could be cut into, using a rotary blade. I extended the cuts an extra couple of inches which created four triangular flaps.
Now I placed the fabric back over the mirror and backing and gently flipped it over (making sure that the fabric didn't move from the right position) and hot glued three of the four fabric edges to the board. Leaving the fourth side open would allow me to add extra stuffing later.

With it again facing right side up, I began folding back each of the triangular flaps and gluing it down onto the lines made where the small frame had been traced. In some places the cuts in the fabric needed to be extended a little, but it was way better to do it this way than to risk cutting too far right off the bat.

Once all four sides were glued down, the small frame was then glued into place. This was also a good time to put some extra stuffing in spots that needed it and then glue down the remaining fabric edge on the back.
Finally, I attached the larger frame to the rest of the project making sure that it had enough glue to stay stuck, but not so much that it was oozing. As a final step, I trimmed away the excess fabric on the back and ran some masking tape down the edges where it met the back of the frame to give it a more finished look.

I love love the way it came out! Knowing how nostalgic my grandma has become over the past several years, I can't not give this her for her upcoming birthday, but there's still a couple of months till then for me to enjoy it a little myself .

A couple of things to note in this project:
- If you’re hand mirror is made of wood or a denser plastic, this project would be better suited for some other random mirror you've got, all the better if it is without any frame at all. It will save you a lot of time and let you skip the shatter factor.

-Also, the larger frame's backing board is important in this project. The frame I was using still had one, but if you're using a frame that lost it somewhere along the way, you can easily make a new one by tracing the inside of the frame onto a piece of cardboard and adding 1/8" all around. Even an old pizza box works, preferably minus the big greasy spot.

*glue gun
*paint brushes

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Things We Make!

I was so thrilled to have Amy, of the great blog The Things We Make, include me in an artist feature today. Amy's blog focuses on inspiration in its many forms from art, fashion and crafting to lots and lots of food. If you don't know Amy's blog already, it's time to check it out.

You can read me talking trash, crafts and fashion with her here.

New home project will be up next Tuesday!