not martha 2.0! December 3, 2006

Hooray, I got the news last night that not martha has redone her entire site (using wordpress, yay)! Now she has categories, tags and comments available. Everything looks great!

Especially lovely is the newly reorganized how to make stuff section, with dozens of her projects, from the Hallowig to Hostess snack cake sushi. Super inspiring.

Hostess Snack Cake Sushi

I love not martha, it was the first craft blog I ever read and I always enjoy her suggestions and links to cool stuff. Have you seen her posts on the ReadyMade blog, too?

Congratulations Megan!

Make it: coffee-cinnamon bath salts! December 2, 2006

I’ve been meaning to put up some how-to projects over here, and now that it’s December, well, there’s no time like the present! I originally posted this on craftster back in 2003 but I just made a batch and packaged it up differently so I thought I’d bring it back, new and improved…

coffee-cinnamon salt scrub

Infused Bath Salts or Salt Scrub

Original how-to: I’ve made bath salts and used essential oils to scent them before, but I thought I’d try using kitchen stuff instead! It works really well, and it’s easy and pretty cheap to make a big batch. You can adjust the oil-salts ratio to your liking — use more oil to make an exfoliating salt scrub, less to make more traditional bath salts.

You’ll need:

1/2 – 1 cup extra-light olive oil
1/3 cup ground coffee
6 Tbsp cinnamon (or more if you really like cinnamon, mmm)

reusable coffee filter, or several paper filters, in a coffeemaker basket

3 lb. container of Epsom salts
1 cup baking soda (optional)

2 – 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup
large flat saucepan
mixing bowl

1. Warm the olive oil in the Pyrex container in a saucepan of boiling water. Mix in the coffee first, then the cinnamon, stirring to blend as the mixture heats. Continue to infuse for 20 minutes on the stove, stirring from time to time.
2. Pour the coffee-cinnamon-oil mixture through the coffee filter into the large mixing bowl, one-third at a time. Careful not to burn yourself here! Discard the grounds and keep the oil. Let it cool to room temperature.
3. Mix the infused oil with the salts (and baking soda if you’re using it). You’re done!

Update: Stacy mentioned that she infused her olive oil in her crockpot for two hours on high instead of on the stove, and it turned out really well — so you might want to try that. Great idea.

Variation: green tea-ginger. Substitute 1/3 cup green tea and 1/4 cup powdered ginger (cheaper if you buy it in bulk) for the coffee and cinnamon.

Packaging Ideas

I like to use recycled jars or flat plastic bags (very cheap at craft/scrapbooking stores) to package them for gifts. New idea for 2006: the button extravaganza you see here!

bath salts/salt scrub packaging ideas

Just fill a Mason jar with your salt scrub and paint the lid a cool color (I used hot-pink enamel paint, but acrylic is fine too). When the paint is dry, hot-glue assorted buttons over it and on the sides of the jar. Add a piece of rick-rack around the side of the lid if you like, too. (I used my current favorites, glitter hot-glue for the buttons and Aleene’s Tacky Glue for the rick-rack.)

Of course, you could glue on rhinestones, game pieces, or any flat-backed bits and pieces, too. Or make a personalized label: draw or print out something you like on colored paper, and then apply it to the jar with a glue stick. You can seal it with Delta Ceramcoat Gloss.

If you want to ornament a plain plastic bag, just cut a simple flower shape out in two colors of felt — one 1.5 inches across with pinking shears, one 1 inch across with scissors. Glue them down as shown (Aleene’s again) and let them dry completely. Tie it with a ribbon (I wish I could reach into that picture and re-tie that one… it looks awful, sorry about that) and voila!

I’ll be publishing my December getcrafty column on Monday with tons more how-to projects, so stay tuned if you’re looking for ideas on gifts to make this year…

Update: here it is!

Crafty shopping, San Francisco edition December 1, 2006

I always seem to find myself writing about all the craftiness I know about going on in Portland and Los Angeles, but I hate to overlook the rest of the coast! So I was delighted to read Christina Loff’s recent indie shopping column for SFist, and even more excited when she kindly gave me permission to republish it here. So this one is especially for Nancy and all the Bay Area crafters extraordinaire.

Christina says, “Every year more and more fabulous craft fairs, trunk shows, and art sales are popping up all over San Francisco. Nothing makes me happier than being around all the great creativity and talent the Bay Area has going on right now, whether I’m at sitting and selling my own crafts or spending my money on the other side of the table. Here’s a piece I wrote for Sfist.com — really, it’s just the begining of what San Francisco has to offer this December. With so much stuff going on, the hardest part will be deciding which events to go to! Happy crafting.”

SFist highlights for crafty San Francisco shopping
duct tape wallet by Christina Loff, beer cozy by Kris Percival, vintage tulip earrings by Cara Langdon, and address book by Jill Bliss

SFist Shops Locally and So Should You, by Christina Loff

We’re just as taken with the shiny new mall downtown as you are, but once you’re inside it you may as well be in Wayne, New Jersey. Charm your friends and family this holiday season with some gifts you can only get in our lovely city, and rest easy knowing that your helping local businesses and crafters thrive. Don’t know all the local talent San Francisco has to offer, or where to shop for it? We’re here for you. Below you’ll find a list of some of the craft fairs happening in the bay area this December. Because when it comes down to it, wouldn’t you rather do your shopping in a bar, with a drink in hand? We know we would. So avoid long lines for the new Tickle Me Elmo (did they really need to make another one of those?), fluorescent lighting, and those scary make-up ladies trying to push perfume and eighty-dollar blush on you. To help get your list started we asked a couple of our favorite local designers what they want this year. So read on and give your Aunt Eunice something she can’t buy at the mall in Indiana. You can thank us later.

Jenn D’angelo, creator and designer of Noo Works clothing line, and the woman behind the fabulous Fasionfest at 12 Galaxies, tells us what’s on her list: “What would I like to receive? A cute pajama panty set from Boi.oi.oing, a big chunky medallion necklace from Cast of Characters, she makes a lot of stuff from found jewelry so it’s always random and cool, a beer holster from Brew Holster Cult, even though I already have one, and one of my cutie heart sweatshirts, zip up.” If you plan on charming Jen this year, you’ll be able to get her everything she wants at the 12 Galaxies Fashionfest on December 10th from 12-5pm. By transforming your favorite local watering hole into a craft emporium it can’t really get any easier for you. Where else can you eat breakfast, nurse your hangover, and shop?

We’re stealing some ideas from Jill Bliss, local designer and founder of Blissen, this year. As a local artist with her own line of stationery products available from Chronicle Books and a crafter extraordinaire, we wish we were on the receiving end of Jill’s shopping list. But we’ve jotted down what she wants and we may end getting some of this stuff for ourselves: “Lotta Jansdotter’s Smyka bag, Lotta moved away while I was temporarily relocated in So Cal, but now I’m back and missing my Lotta fix! Nooworks’ black forest collection, the hearts patterned sweatshirt, actually I couldn’t wait for someone to buy this for me I ordered one the other week! Cara Lyndon’s, vintage earrings, I keep seeing Cara’s earrings in various shops and wishing my ears were pierced! If someone bought me a collection of hers, especially any of the dangling ones with the ear threads, I’d be forced to get out a needle and ice. A Minor Thread, perfect pink tote, I’m a sucker for totes. I’m surprised I haven’t bought this one yet. And finally, Lisa Congdon’s mod bird, I never got one of these a few years ago when Lisa began making these, which i regret.”

Here’s a list of some craft fairs to get you started:

12/1-12/3 Maven: Urban Design + Craft Fair Fri. 5-9pm, Sat & Sun 11am-6pm 1700 Dwight Way in Berkeley
12/2 Chillin’ 8pm-2am at the Mezzanine 444 Jesse Street in SF
12/3 Stitch Lounge: Hayes Valley 3-6 pm at 182 Gough St.
12/3 Guerrilla Fashionista @ Foreign Cinema: Mission, 11am-4pm 2534 Mission St. @ 21st
12/7 Appel & Frank 5pm-9:30pm at The Regency Center 1270 Sutter Street @ Van Ness in SF
12/9 Twelve Designs Trunk show 11am-5pm at Levy Art & Architecture, 3361 Mission Street @ 29th in SF
12/9 Root Division 6pm-10pm Holiday Art Sale 3175 17th Street in SF
12/10 December Fashionfest 12pm-5pm at 12 Galaxies 2565 Mission Street @ 22nd in SF
12/14 Feria Urbana 6pm-11pm at The Canvas Gallery 1200 9th Ave @ Lincoln in SF
12/16 Holidayland Gift Sale 1pm-7pm at Blank Space 6608 San Pablo in Oakland
12/16 & 12/17 10am-4pm at The Crucible 1260 7th Street in Oakland

new pieces in Adorn and Cutting Edge November 30, 2006

I just love Adorn magazine — the second issue is completely gorgeous. Whether you want to make cute holiday cards, felt-and-sequin earrings (by the ultra-talented Faythe Levine), fabric-covered headbands, pom-pom garlands, or delicate filigree-and-chain jewelry, it’s jam-packed with great ideas for gifts or for yourself. And I’m so excited about my feature, the New Craft Night! I interviewed crafters from all over the country about their get-togethers at bars, studios, coffeehouses, and living rooms and got great info, pictures, and ideas for starting your own group.

Two features by Susan Beal

I also designed a flower-and-ribbon holiday card for the new Cutting Edge… and the issue is filled with fun and beautiful things to sew. There are patterns and instructions for elegant garments like a silky cowl-neck dress and a dramatic beaded jacket, as well as cute animal-themed pillows, blankets, wall decor, and plushies for a kid’s room extraordinaire.

I’d love to hear what you think if you’ve picked up either of the issues! And I’ve gotten to write about some fun stuff over at the Adorn blog lately, too. Those girls always have the best ideas!

p.s. If you’re a fan of PDX Super Crafty, I just updated our collective blog with all the super crafty stuff we have coming up in December and beyond — be sure to check it out!

The Sampler… for life! November 29, 2006

I got my Sampler in the mail today, and… wow!

December Sampler!

So many great things in one package! This time, I especially love the Sappy Moose Tree magnetic bacon, Studio Cate’s tissue cover, Enamor’s darling little bird pendant, the adorable Nut and Bee letterset, a Petals leaf-and-button heart pin, and a tin of Zazzle grapefruit body balm. Every month’s mix is different, but I always find instant favorites and new lines to check out. You can always take a peek at the gallery page to see what might end up in your mailbox, but part of the fun is the unpredictable mix-up.

And now you can even win a lifetime subscription to the Sampler! Marie, who puts each and every month’s Samplers together with love and care, has graciously donated a permanent subscription as a fundraiser for Felt Club XL.

Lifetime Subscription to the Sampler

Each raffle ticket is just $2, and all the money goes towards putting the event together… and if you win, you have the excitement of a Sampler to look forward to every month from now on! But hurry, the contest ends tomorrow (11/30) and the winner will be announced on Friday (12/1). Who will it be??

Bingo’s Craft Emporium November 28, 2006

I’ve been doing lots of my holiday shopping this week — due to very annoyingly timed travel, I’ll be missing all the cool craft sales, including Crafty Wonderland, Felt Club, the Craftacular, and the Indie Craft Experience next month… wah. So I’ve had to get an early start.

Andrew and I hit up Amazon and the Chronicle sale (free ground shipping rules!) for most of our family presents, and then I stopped by ReForm School for one last wonderful (secret) thing. While I was on Sunset, I also met up with Sarah, proprietoress of Pull My Daisy, at Eat Well to hear more about her December-only venture, Bingo’s Craft Emporium — named after the king of the neighborhood, her dachsund Bingo. Sarah is setting up a one-month-only space next door to her shop to feature all kinds of handmade work from dozens of Los Angeles artists and crafters. This Friday, December 1, she’s throwing a grand opening party to celebrate the Emporium… plus the launch of American Appalling, an all-new calendar for 2007 that sends up the very distinctive advertising of a certain Made-In-Downtown-LA vertically integrated clothing manufacturer. It must be seen to be believed.

Bingo's Craft Emporium

So if you’re shopping in Silver Lake anytime next month, be sure to swing by, and if you’re looking for a place to sell your killer handmade stuff, look no further! E-mail Sarah and Jovita at pullmydaisy@sbcglobal.net for all the details (the big picture: 60/40 consignment split, drop things off anytime priced and ready to go, check back in January for your cash) or stop by the store.

p.s. Speaking of LA crafting — don’t miss the fabulous interview that Natalie of CRAFT just did with Cathy of California!

Holiday sale at Chronicle Books November 27, 2006

Yay, it’s time for the Chronicle Books 40% off sale! It’s going on through December 10 — check out their site, visit their San Francisco store in person, or call 1-800-722-6657 to order. This sale happens twice a year, so be sure to join their mailing list for the heads up. Last summer I ordered a bunch of the Denyse Schmidt notecards (discounted to $8.37 for a box of 20!) for my wedding thank-you notes. This year I have a couple of holiday gifts in mind which shall remain secret for now in case the recipients are reading this…

Every time I do new book reviews over here, Chronicle titles are front and center, but here are some of my all-time favorites I haven’t mentioned yet.

Off the Wall, Fabulous Fabrics, Denyse Schmidt Quilts

Off The Wall has tons of cool midcentury wallpaper patterns that I’d love to track down in real life. In the meantime I have all the ones I like best (and there are many) bookmarked.

Fabulous Fabrics of the 50s keeps me on my toes at thrift stores and estate sales, hunting for that perfect atomic or floral pattern. I probably checked this one out of the library ten times before Alex and Heather surprised me with it for my birthday!

Denyse Schmidt Quilts is a beautiful collection of projects and photos to pore over. I have been so inspired by the cool mix of housewares, gifts, and (of course) quilts since I got this book, but I think any new sewing projects are going to have to wait until January… and the oven mitt is first on my list.

Back to the sale — if you want to cut to the chase and check out all 149 of their craft books, here you go! And one more thing: in addition to the discount, Chronicle is giving away a free copy of the World Almanac Daily Calendar with every order.

Stumptown Coffee November 26, 2006

Have I mentioned my intense love for Stumptown coffee over here yet? I am a huge coffee person — living in Portland for nine years will do that to you — and Stumptown is the best of the best. We even thanked them in the acknowledgments when we published Super Crafty, since their amazing coffee fueled our crafty project marathons!

It is such a treat now that I’m in Los Angeles most of the time… and Stumptown is not. They don’t sell it to cafes or shops outside of Portland so every time I’m back I snap some up and ration it out slowly. So when our friend Bethe came down to visit on Thursday night, and brought us two pounds of whole beans, I swear it was like Christmas in November.

Here’s a pound with my two favorite coffee cups**:
stumptown coffee and my favorite coffee cups

The other thing I really appreciate about Stumptown is their emphasis on social responsibility and sustainability. All their employees get health insurance, and the company records their workers’ bands and and puts out compliation records. They donate freshly roasted coffee to the Oregon Food Bank, and they also sponsor local art and music events (like our Super Crafty book release party, for example!).

So if you are also a coffee type (or you have one or two on your holiday gift list), keep in mind that you can buy their coffees online by the pound on their new site. My favorite is the Holler Mountain blend, which is organic and fair trade, but they’re all incredible, so why not order three or four kinds and try them all?

**I love this cheerful flower pattern and I’m always searching for the other color combinations — somewhere (probably in storage in Portland?) I have the reverse of the orange/yellow print too. It reminds me of the sheets on my twin bed when I was little.

The craft supplies I’m most thankful for this year November 23, 2006

Today I am thankful for my husband, my family, my friends, my camera, my writing projects, the fact that I wake up every single day excited to make jewelry, and the luxury of food and shelter. But I’m also thankful for my favorite craft supplies of the moment — all four of these have been in heavy rotation lately, and I love them. (I will say that felt is and always will be my favorite supply of all… but it’s mostly stayed on the shelf this week, so no photo.)

The craft supplies I'm most thankful for

I just love Aleene’s Tacky Glue — it’s lightweight, quick-drying, wonderfully non-toxic (I’m looking at you, E 6000), and holds all kinds of things together gracefully. I read Aleene: A Tacky Lady this week on Cathy’s recommendation, so I’m even more excited about her signature product. Aleene and I may not agree politically, but I will use her glue with enthusiasm forever.

I’ve always adored rhinestones (they remind me of Torie!) but until I shopped the downtown Los Angeles bead and jewelry stores,well, I had no idea that you could buy them in so many colors, shapes, and sizes… wow. My bejeweled projects have been so much fun lately. These oversized pink ones look like candy!

Kathy introduced me to the wonders of glitter hot-glue sticks on her “Lucha Libre” episode of Craft Lab, and I got to use it to add all kinds of stars and trinkets to my mask. I’m 100% converted to the glitter path when it comes to hot-gluing — such a cool touch.

And 24-gauge wire is perhaps the single most useful jewelry material in my arsenal — I prefer sterling but I also use gold-filled and all colors of craft wire. It’s easy to work with, and flexible and strong at the same time. I use it for linking, wrapping, joining, dangling, and decorating, and it is a dream to shape with pliers — it coils up beautifully. I just got done working with some a minute ago, actually. Love it.

Of course I treasure my Gocco and my serger, and my pliers and sewing machine are right up there with my wedding ring on my list of most-prized possessions, but right now I’m especially thankful for these four!

Holiday Cooking November 22, 2006

I love cooking and I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow — Andrew and I are making grilled salmon, brussels sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and pie. (Well, to be honest, we had to buy the pie because our oven broke, which is such a drag.) It’s kind of a ridiculous spread for just the two of us but I’m excited anyway!

No food pictures yet, but here’s my Deadly Squire oven mitt, which will be seeing plenty of action:
Deadly Squire oven mitt

And here are some of my favorite holiday recipes, if you’re interested in adding a little something new to your line-up… how about red vegetable soup, roasted vegetables, cornbread stuffing, or chocolate-chip bourbon pecan pie? I promise they’re all really easy to make. The pie is especially killer.

Oh, and here’s a new mocktail I made up this week:
-3 parts Trader Joe’s ginger lemonade
-1 part pomegranate-cherry juice
over ice, with a lime wedge.

I’ll definitely be having that tomorrow, and maybe some champagne too.

Happy day-before-Thanksgiving!

Crafty Round-Up! gocco, shopping, and craftivism for the holidays November 21, 2006

Here are four things near and dear to my heart today — a very cool mix of crafty events and finds, plus my latest project for good measure.

Crafty Round-Up! gocco, Rimsky's, Getcrafty drive, and Remarkable pouch

I just started using my Gocco printer and I adore it! I’ve been making gift labels, tags, and other little things on paper, and just yesterday I put my very first card together — I found these little girls in a 40s math workbook and fell in love with them. I traced them with the carbon pen, printed them in blue, and then glued the print onto cardstock. I like how it turned out. I just ordered some great new ink colors from Northwood Studios to make my holiday cards — silver, gold, olive green, turquoise, and chocolate brown. Gorgeous!

Oh, I really wish I could be in Portland this weekend! Sunday is the annual Riches at Rimsky’s sale at Rimsky-Korsakoffee House — and I know it’s going to be amazing. Plus Sister Diane will be running a free DIY table to make your own gift tags all afternoon. If you’re in town, don’t miss it — skip the mall and buy handmade! All the info is at richesatrimskys.com.

And if you are looking for some craftivism to mix into your holiday projects, Nancy Flynn and Christy Petterson of getcrafty.com are organizing a Handmade Holiday Drive, collecting soft toys and cuddly blankets for children in shelters through Project Night Night. Christy says, “It is so exciting to think that we, as crafters, can take an activity that we love and transform it into helping others, as well as make a statement about mass production.” For inspiration, here is the set Nancy created, using a Wee Wonderfuls pattern. I’m planning on making an embroidered polarfleece toy and blanket — washable and quick to make!

If you’d like more details on either of these, I just got to blog about both Rimsky’s and the getcrafty project over at Adorn, too.

Last, here’s a super cool recycled zipper pouch I picked up at the fabulous ReForm School party on Saturday! As the label says, it used to be a car tire. It’s a Christmas present for my nephew, Julian, and we’re going to fill it with art supplies and little trinkets for him to do some cool projects with. I can’t wait to head back and do some more holiday shopping next week — I spotted so many great things at the party. Love that store!

Cathy of California November 20, 2006

If you adore vintage crafts (as I do) you will not want to miss a single entry over at Cathy of California‘s new blog. She posts incredible 60s and 70s photographs and craft supplies from her astonishing stash, adding links to, and details about, all kinds of cool things. My favorite post to date is her intriguing entry on Aleene Jackson, inventor of the beloved Tacky Craft Glue. I found a signed copy of Aleene’s autobiography on eBay within an hour (and fyi, you can get copies on Amazon for a penny).

I first met Cathy at the inaugural Felt Club in May and chatted with her when she bought one of my skirt kits. I got to see all her work at the next month’s event and snapped up one of her adorable pink felt-embellished wastebaskets — it’s perfect next to my sewing table. I also love her felt flower cupcake toppers and display many of them in my kitchen. Felt has always been my favorite craft supply and Cathy uses it in amazing ways!

If you’re not in Los Angeles, she has a freshly updated etsy shop full of her pieces to browse, too. But back to the blog — here’s one of her images, an amazing 1967 tile mural from a children’s hospital in LA designed by Mary Blair.

maryblairwall