Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

May 31, 2011

I Joined the Team!

I joined the team as a contributing writer!  I made it through the preliminary we-can-still-easily-fire-you-because-your-grammar-is-dismal phase!  They just haven't caught on that my grammar problems are perennial.  They are blinded by my PhD candidacy.

Me, hard at work avoiding my thesis.

May 30, 2011

David Stark in Our Bathroom

This David Stark for West Elm series reimagines everyday staples, like a soup can, into gorgeous, creamy white porcelain.  I think the pieces are meant for flowers or edible goodies, but I bought some for our stalled guest half bath, for soap, toothbrushes and other toiletries.  The largest dish will be a great spot for guests to put their cans of shaving cream or hairspray.  I'm a super cautious about not putting metal things on the marble because rust is its only known enemy - it can really stain. 

I spent yesterday working on a simple art project for the bathroom.  I hope to post some photos this week and re-classify the undecorated bathroom as "done"! 



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May 26, 2011

DIY Felted Wool Ball "Billy Buttons"

Make DIY felted woold balls - tutorial

While making felted wool beads for my DIY felt wool bead necklace, the yellow wool beads I was felting started to really look like Yellow Craspedia (small, spherical flowers also known as “Billy Buttons” or “Woolly-heads”).  Inspired, I made some extra felted wool balls, pierced them with cloth covered floral wire, and made an arrangement in an inexpensive West Elm vase.  

Read on for my tutorial for making felted wool beads - perfect for so many DIY projects!
Faux billy buttons DIY
My FAUX Craspedia
Billy buttons
REAL Craspedia
Via Bloomerism
Billy buttons
More REAL Craspedia
Via That Windsome Girl

How to Make Felted Wool Balls:
The whole process for one ball should only take a couple minutes.  First, tear off a piece of your wool roving, like you would tear off a piece of cotton candy.  You want ragged ends.  Remember that your wool ball will shrink a bit during the felting process.  Try starting with the same approximate amount of wool I use in the photo below to create a ball the same size as mine.  Real billy buttons are about an inch in diameter.
How to make felted wool balls

Next, place a small drop of soap (I have used both hand soap and dish soap successfully) in your dry hands and also rub a tiny bit onto the piece of wool roving.
How to make felted wool balls

Then, roughly shape the wool into a ball before dipping it gently in the hot water – you want it a tad wet, not completely drenched.
Felted wool ball tutorial

Very, very gently roll the wool roving between your palms – like you would a clay ball.  At this stage, don’t squish the wool any harder than you would a baby chick.  Then dunk the roughly shaped ball into the cold water (this time you can soak it) and keep rolling. Then dunk the ball into the hot again, then the cold, rolling between dunks.  The change in temperature helps “shock” the wool fibres and is part of the felting process.  Plus, you want to rinse out the soap.
DIY felted wool ball

As your ball becomes firmer (and thus smaller), you can apply more pressure.  Your ball is finished when it is firmer to the touch and feels dense.  You can see in the next photo how much smaller my wool ball has become.
Making felt balls
Wool felt ball tutorial

Leave the felted wool ball(s) to dry, for 24 to 48 hours.  The dry felted wool ball should have a slight bounce to it when dropped on a counter top.  I recommend making a few as a “test” before diving into mass production.

I've created a second post, with tips for felted wool ball troubleshooting, and I'm happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments below.
Once your felted wool ball is dry, simply pierce it with the end of the floral wire and twist & wiggle the wire into the felted ball until it almost pops out the other side.  Your ball should be dense enough to grip the wire.  I flung my finished “Billy Buttons” around and no felted balls went flying.  If you're nervous, you can always add a dab on clear glue on the end of the wire.  Then bend the wire as you please, making some droopy flowers or more rigid ones.  Bend the wire gently – you don’t want any kinks – just soft bends, the way a flower stem would natural fall.
Wool felt ball tutorial

And, voilĂ !  DIY felted wool billy buttons, as cute as the real thing!
DIY billy buttons
Make your own felt billy buttons

Over the years, some readers have tried out this tutorial with great success!  Take a look at DIY billy buttons by Max & Me, Go Haus Go, and Dream Green DIY.  I also made a second set, using white wool roving to make faux "dandelions".

How to make felted wool flowers
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May 25, 2011

Finishing Tile With Metal Edging

Many folks have commented or emailed to compliment us on our herringbone tiling job (thanks!) but recently a reader asked me about the edging we used (you can spot it in the second pic).  So, here are the details:

Our subway tiles weren't finished on the sides, so we needed something to finish off the edges.  We used schluter brand edging, but there are so many different brands and styles.  Talk to an expert, wherever you purchase your tile, to find the right edging for your project.

Installation was super simple.  We figured out where our tiling would stop and affixed the edging to the wall using screws. 

Use a level to make sure your edging is,
well, level.

Then we just tiled up to the edges, ensuring a nice tight meeting.  Our edging had a little "lip," for the tile to slide under, so there are no awkward gaps.  We used the edging at the top of the tiling, and also the sides.  It created a nice "frame" for the pattern. 

Click here to read about how we re-varnished the cabinet fronts and click here to see more of the tiling process.
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May 24, 2011

Art Attack: Lime Green Abstract

Mmmmm.  This painting really tickles me.  Who am I kidding?  I am salivating over the entire bathroom.  I'd be thrilled if I could just have that doorknob.

Style at Home Via Marcus Design

Although I love bright green and have blogged about it tirelessly and shamelessly, there isn't that much bright green in the townhouse.  I tend to commit more easily to the turquoises, teals and pale greens.  But I'm feeling less lusty and more satiated now that I finally gave the townhouse a nice dose of bright green via my DIY'd felted wool art (that I also seem to blog about shamelessly):

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May 23, 2011

Location, Location, Location

Moving the chair from the office into the living room kick started a chain reaction of furniture rearrangement.  I had been bothered by the guest room teak chair/side table combo for awhile because the two pieces were so dissimilar in wood tone and style, but not dissimilar enough to work.  With the office chair moved downstairs, I relocated its accompanying black metal glass topped table (a wedding present my grandma received in the 1950s) to the guest room and love how it looks in there.  The splash of black adds the right amount of tension, and is a common element in every room of the house. 

Yep - those heaters will be painted.  Eventually.

The table + teak table combo (click here for more photos):

Before - teak table + prints on wall have since been replaced

You might have already spotted the change in my post about my DIY'd Needled Felted Abstracts.  This photo gave it away:

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May 20, 2011

"New" Living Room Chair

I took a break from all the textile art (necklace, abstracts, and pretty yellow flowers) to re-arrange some furniture, with smile inducing results.  It can be so tricky to decorate our small townhouse because sometimes I have to work with what we have and work with limited funds. 

I've mentioned the need to find a work surface for Hubby - something small, for casual use.  After lots of hmmm-ing and haw-ing, we decided not to find a unit to serve as guest storage and his desk.  We decided it makes the most sense for me to just share the office, instead of relegating him to the guest room.  With a location determined, we thought about getting a vintage teak unit, like the one pictured below, to replace my expedit and serve as his work surface. 

Too expensive!

But the unit in question is $1400+ and doesn't meet all of our storage needs (one day I will show you what is behind the white door).  Plus, it seemed like just too much furniture for the office.  Then I had the genius plan of moving the office chair downstairs into the living room (not sure what I will do with the two chairs - from Loblaws grocery store - that used to live there) and finding a narrow console table/desk for the now empty office corner.  Although the office space is still empty, here is the chair in the living room.  I am loving it there!  Remember, the room will have new throw pillows soon.

Living room with old chairs:

I like my little grocery store chairs because they are comfy (and cheap!),
but they just looked so blah . . .

Living room with my office chair:

The whole L-shaped living/dining area seems much larger now

Finally - a good shot of the fabric!

The empty office space.  See pics of it before I dismantled it here.

Kind of what we're looking for - even narrower would work.  We just want something that isn't a huge executive desk.  I have already posted a "want ad" on the local online classifieds and am starting yard saling soon, so I'm hoping to find something perfect, for a bargain!

West Elm
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May 19, 2011

I'm Over at Young & Crafty Today!

I emailed Hannah, from Young & Crafty, photos of my DIY felted wool bead necklace and she invited me to share a tutorial with her readers.  Check out my guest post here, to find out how I made these felted wool Yellow Craspedias (a fabulous, spherical flower also known as a "Billy Button" or "Woolyhead"):

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May 18, 2011

DIY Needle Felted Art - Learn the Basics of Needle Felting

I just love easy wool crafts!  My most recent project is this trio of easy, needle felted abstracts.  It's hard to capture on camera, but the abstracts are three-dimensional, with a sculptural feel.  The wool I used is really vibrant, so these are a fun pop of colour on plain white walls.

A needle felted DIY project tutorial for beginners
DIY needle felted abstract art
Easy DIY wool project

I used my favorite of the three paintings I made for the bedroom as my colour inspiration:

Colorful abstract art

Here are the needle felting basics:

Where to buy a foam block for needle felting
Felting needle and foam block
Wool rovings
Wool rovings
How to Needle Felt:

Needle felting is actually super simple.  Sketch out your plan on a piece of felted wool (or free-hand it).  Lay your piece of wool on your foam block and grab some wool rovings.  Tear pieces of the wool roving off, like you would cotton candy.  You want the ends ragged, not cut.  Then lay the wool roving on the piece of wool and use the felting needle to pierce the wool roving through the piece of wool, using the foam as a surface to stop the needle.  Just keep piercing again & again (& again & again - this is a good craft for tension relief!)  The felting needle has barbs and it catches the wool roving, pushing through the piece of wool which tangles the fibres and locks them.  Like paint, you just build up layers of rovings - you can layer different colours to create depth or just to mix new colours.

How to needle felt
Needle felting basics
Needle felting tutorial

Here is what the back of the wool will look like after you have been needle felting for a bit:

A warning about the barbed needle: it is very sharp and will tear you skin going in and out, so be careful not to poke yourself with it. 

Needle felting barbed needle

Here are my finished needle felted wool art pieces unframed.  I used a piece of paper with a square cut out to help me frame up the composition as I worked.

Wool craft ideas
Wool art ideas

Here is some more needle felted wool inspiration:

Wool landscape art
Wood art project ideas
Wool craft ideas
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