happy halloween from our baby macaron (formerly shrimp tempura sushi handroll)

October 31, 2014 § 8 Comments

I just had to put an end to this extended hiatus right on my 35th birthday.  We have lots of catching up to do.   Hope you’re still here.

Introducing Lara.  Today, she is a stack of macarons at 14-1/2 months old and was a shrimp tempura sushi handroll last Halloween and has been keeping me quite busy.

macaronhalloweencostume

shrimptempurasushicostume

paper suitcases from t-shirt boxes

June 27, 2012 § 24 Comments

Hours and hours flew by as I made our wedding favor boxes: paper luggage.

At first I thought: it’s just a t-shirt box and I only need to repeat the process a dozen times, it’ll be a cinch.   I didn’t consider the hours alone on painting each side of the t-shirt box into our wedding colors.  Nor the time to contemplate and execute the paper details like the corners, straps, handles, and Velcro enclosures.

What was most important is these need to be compact.  These suitcases will be traveling from Toronto to New York to Las Vegas afterall and, well, they have to fit in our big suitcase before they are given away to our guests and vendors the morning of the wedding.  So I made sure to maintain the ability to fold and unfold these in the same way they came when they were t-shirt boxes, but also have the ability to attach and detach items that easily convert them into luggage.

We’ve called them our “Keep Cool” kits, as they will contain relief from the Vegas and Grand Canyon heat.

Tutorial to follow after the wedding!  Keep posted!

no-sew color block suede cushions

June 27, 2012 § 3 Comments

Aaaah, where did the time go?!?  I feel like I have been DIY’ing at all hours of the day, everyday, only to pause for work and sleep.  I get home from the office, inhale dinner, craft until midnight, wake-up, and repeat.  That’s been my schedule for the past two and a half weeks and I’m still not done and the wedding is now less than a week away!

What have I made since the handpainted Turkish rug-inspired straw mat?  Color-blocked cushions to match!  The camel and apricot micro-suede applied on our boxed invitations have come to further use as cushions for our upcoming Grand Canyon wedding picnic.  I went off and bought black micro-suede to add more to the color blocking.

I wish I had the time to do the tutorials now, but I still have a bunch of mini projects to finish.  So for now, I’ll post the pictures and will have tutorials ready after the wedding.

Using Stitch Witchery, I managed to make these without any sewing.  More on the process when the tutorial is posted in a couple of weeks.  Next: our fun favor boxes that took days to complete!

straw mat turned kilim magic carpet

June 11, 2012 § 3 Comments

So the previously mentioned straw mats have had a backbreaking 8-hour makeover this weekend.  I sewed four together to create a massive mat on which I painted on a number of kilim patterns.  This once blank large mat is now packed with bright colorful prints (in our colors, of course!).

It’s convenient that the kilim has reached mainstream global fashion in the year O.T. and I are wed.  I have caught sight of the patterns on tops, bottoms, and bags in ways antique kilim-makers never dreamed.    Of course kilim rugs are from varied origins, however the most prolific kilim-makers are the Turks.  Creating a Turkish rug-inspired mat for our Grand Canyon picnic was another seamless way to incorporate O.T.’s culture into the wedding and to give a big welcome to his parents who are flying in from Istanbul (apart from the Turkish ebru handmarbled papers on our wedding stationery).

Before busting out my acrylic paints and cutting out stencils from plastic chopping sheets, I studiously researched the types and meanings of kilim patterns.  It’s amazing what kilim.com has to offer on the topic.

It turns out, there is a lot of symbolism behind kilim motifs, apart from looking cool and tribal.  What’s even more amazing is the relevance of these to our wedding.

To start, we chose the most common symbol of Turkish superstition — the eye.  The eye wards off any harm caused by an evil glance.

On our kilim magic picnic carpet, I also painted on the tree of life, which is the hope of life after earth.  It cannot be a Turkish carpet without the comb, which is a symbol of marriage and birth.  (To me, that pattern has always been a ‘dentil’, as used on a frieze.  But hey, we’re not talking architecture).   Of course, on our mat, there is also love and unison, the harmony between man and woman, the yin and yang.  Or as O.T. sees it: two Pacman ghosts gettin’ it on.

Then there is the star to signify happiness.  It couldn’t be more perfect

terracotta clay succulents

June 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

As soon as I posted the wedding invites and saw the overall concept through a computer screen (not on my desk as it had been evolving for weeks), I automatically felt the urge to perpetuate the evolution.  The box shouldn’t be square, it should be an octagon.  The concave corners should have a larger radius, to be accommodated by the octagon box.  The green border shouldn’t be an invisible tint of honeydew, it should be a vibrant pistachio (a shade of green that would be noticeable through a camera lens!).  The rounded variety of terracotta succulents should be used, not pointy (I made both types).  It doesn’t end.  It drives me mad.

The urge was more rampant over the weekend, with the further progression of our wedding crafting.  I thought of another hundred different ways to make our invitations.  But better.  More unique.  Last night, I asked O.T. for the umpteenth time “Do you like how our invitations turned out?”.  His reply: “Well, it’s classic.”  What I hear is: boring, predictable, ordinary, aren’t you capable of more creativity?  For someone who used to own a company called out-of-the-box ideas and make invitations as contemporary as this fairytale castle, our own invitation design is perhaps not anything anyone expected of me, not even myself.  Suddenly, as though out-of-body, I want to shake myself for not going out-of-the-box.

I’d like to believe when I went to the drawing board after booking the wedding a month ago, that I had a purpose (and very little time).  The terracotta succulents were intended for the invitations, yes.  But they were ultimately designed for the bouquet, which I have since made and love far more than the invites.

I used self-hardening terracotta clay.  Not just “air dry” — that stuff crumbles (I tried and failed miserably).  Heart shape cookie cutters.  Rolling pin.  Garbage bag.  Paper floral stems.

To start, I rolled the clay between a folded sheet of garbage bag to a thickness of 1/8″.  I allowed the garbage bag to wrinkle, which left a leather-like texture on the surface of the clay.  Then I cut a number of heart shapes using two sizes of cookie cutter.  I further split the hearts into two halves.

For the invites, the terracotta succulents are pointy and flat-bottomed.  I placed halves of the larger hearts to form a 6-pointed star shape and placed a second layer, with halves alternating to cover gaps.   I continued by placing halves of the smaller hearts in the same manner until it reached a full bloom.  I guess “bloom” is not exactly the word.  Succulents have leaves, not petals.  I pinched each leaf to create a point.   Then I set it all aside to harden.

For stemmed terracotta succulents, I started from the inside out by pinching three small halves around the tip of a paper floral stem.  I pinched additional layers, with halves alternating to cover gaps.  I used three layers of small halves and proceeded with another three layers of large halves.  I made two varieties using the same heart halves — pointy side up and rounded side up.

For the bouquet, I have a combination of terracotta and artificial succulents.  Realistically, there won’t be any time to prowl around Vegas nurseries for fresh succulents the day before the wedding, so we purchased artificial succulents and cacti at qualitysilkplants.com with a $100 splurge.  Real succulents and cacti would’ve cost us far less.  However, given the time-frame, this was most efficient.  My bouquet is made well ahead of time and I can’t wait to show you.   Let’s hope the terracotta survives the trip in my carry-on!

suede-boxed invites with hand-marbled papers and terracotta succulents

June 4, 2012 § 5 Comments

I didn’t think this would be so hard!  Especially after designing handmade stationery for over 150 weddings in my designer days.  I discovered, amidst the arduous task of making my own invitations, that it is a million times easier to design for someone else!

The problem was I wanted to design in every style possible.  In one brainstorm, I’d want classic and sophisticated.  The next, I’d want graphic and whimsical.  Then after more thought, I’d want minimal.  It was a harrowing process to narrow down to one decision only.  I’m not used to this!  Clients did all this decision-making for me!  But for our own invitations, I felt like I could’ve made a hundred different versions to satisfy my fickle fancies.

It was a challenge to clear my mind of all the invitations I’ve made in the past.  One thing is for sure: wedding invitations are about tactility.  The product is entirely about texture and touch.  So how could I make something classic, sophisticated, graphic, whimsical, and minimalist at the same time?  Well, I tried.  Really tried.  And it hit me: all of my fickle fancies could be relevant and cohesive.

For a classic style: a square shape with concave corners.  The invites are printed on my favorite stock of all time — leather-textured paper, which reminds me of old books.

For an air of sophistication, the inserts are carried in a handmade micro-suede box (color blocked in apricot and camel), with personalized dust sleeve made of the same leather-textured paper used for the inserts.

For something bold and graphic, I knew ebru, the Turkish art of paper marbling, would be relevant by today’s trends and significant by O.T.’s culture (apart from conveniently resembling the Grand Canyon walls).  He was really impressed that I went so far as to learn how to make my own marbled papers.  He would like to take credit as supervisor of this process.

For a bit of whimsy, I sculpted succulents out of terracotta clay to complement our earthy desert venue.  I mentioned in a previous post that terracotta will have a significant part at our wedding and the invites provide this sneak peek.

For the minimalist architect grad in me: a monogram of our future family initial with a simplified and very architectural hatched illustration of the Grand Canyon.  O.T. and I heavily considered helicopter silhouettes, but later decided the oversize “T” emulated helicopter rotors reaching to the bottom of the canyon, in a very implicit way.

This whole project was an ordeal, more time consuming than I expected.

The boxes took the longest time to make.  I cut and glued millboard before covering the surface with the micro-suede material I showed in my previous post, and affixed a monogrammed transparency as a window.

The terracotta succulents took a long time to dry (3 weeks) and they still don’t look entirely dry, but I am quite liking the darkened tips.  I will post a tutorial on how I made the terracotta succulents next.

The ebru marbled papers were the quickest to make (without considering the hours upon hours of researching how ebru is done).  I was at odds about the marbled papers for two reasons.  They can be bought online, but it was really important for me to make our own in the colors and patterns that unify the project.  The materials to make ebru are pricey, so there was a point where making ebru was difficult to justify.

I found sites recommending shaving cream.  I tried.  What an awfully imprecise way to make marbled paper!  Then there are sites which recommend methyl cellulose (very pricey considering I could only find it online and shipping fees to Canada are enormous).  But I wasn’t going to give up.

I happened upon this amazing blog, Knit One Quilt Too, on easy paper marbling using liquid starch.  It was decided.  I will embark on the adventures of my own hand-marbled papers.  And for super cheap!  Sta Flo Liquid Starch sells for $2.97 at Walmart!

It was a painless process.  I placed half a jug of liquid starch in a shallow tray.  Then I gently drizzled watered-down acrylics on the surface of the starch.  And marbled away using a bamboo skewer.  I carefully dipped my paper on the surface of the marbled starch and immersed it in a water bath for a few seconds to rinse the starch, then laid the paper flat to dry.  I was impressed with the level of control the liquid starch provided and couldn’t be happier with my first paper marbling experience.

Insane, these invitations made me.  And I only had to make four!  I have never put so much thought and time into invitations for anyone else, nor will I ever.  I am pretty happy with the results!

canadian living june 2012 issue: father’s day card

June 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s been a few weeks out on newsstands.  Where did May go!?!  Here’s my latest contribution to Canadian Living magazine: Father’s Day shirt card with a life-size wearable paper tie (clipped on with paper clip, of course).

canadian living may 2012 issue: mother’s day topiary

April 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

Ok, my April issue unveiling may have been a little late.  But the Canadian Living May issue just came out last week with my latest contribution:

There is still time to head out to the newsstands to pick up a copy so you can make this daisy topiary from egg cartons for Mother’s Day or simply for spring!   I will update with the link when the article is available online.

canadian living february 2012 issue: valentine candy heart boxes

January 9, 2012 § 8 Comments

On Friday, as my co-workers and I spent our lunch hour wandering the aisles of a nearby Walmart, I spotted the February issue of Canadian Living Magazine already out on newsstands!

I did my rounds of grocery shopping on Saturday and, indeed, the issue is available everywhere magazines are sold in Canada.  So if you’re in Canada, please head over to your closest newsstands to pick up a copy and turn to pages 66-67.   For those of you beyond our Canadian borders, you can find the article at canadianliving.com. (I will update once the craft is available for viewing online).

Here it is!  Treat boxes in the likeness of candy hearts for you to make for your sweetheart this Valentine’s!

Am I giddy!  My first print publication.  Well, my “first”, unless considered are my monthly column for our local Parish newspaper at the age of 13 and my dreadful illustrations in the high school newspaper, but they simply won’t (shan’t) count.  So yes, this is my first print publication.  Ever.  And of the year.  I am so blessed.  I didn’t imagine when I started this blog not so long ago that my first print publication would be a two-page spread in a national magazine.

I cannot wait to share with you other publications to follow in 2012 (and, praying for a bit of luck, beyond).  I could not have more gratitude for the opportunities being given.  Thank you!

“digital” magnets for your new year affirmations and resolutions

January 5, 2012 § 9 Comments

Have you got a list started?  If not, now is the time to start.  In fact, now is my affirmation and resolution for 2012.

No big lists for me this year.  No other word best encapsulates energy, exigency, and urgency as now.  No lofty goals.  No unmet expectations.  Now is critical.  If we can muster every bit of effort on what we are doing now, then everything to follow is a whopping sum of our best efforts and therefore the best outcome.  Work hard now, reap success to come.  Workout now, ripped biceps to come.  So make and do, and make do — now.  It is so simple!

And just as simple is the effort to make these digital magnets for your new year affirmations and resolutions, should you want to expand your list now (apart from “now”).

I spent $5 on five rolls of 1/2″ adhesive magnet strips at the dollar store, each roll being 24″ long.   With just $5 and a bit of glitter from my craft drawer, I was able to make fifty-five 2″ strips and ten 1″ strips to make a set of digital magnets that can make sufficient characters on the fridge or whiteboard.

Just cut the magnet strips into 2″ strips, then make a few 1″ strips.  Cut each end into a point.  Then peel the adhesive backing and dip into glitter for a glow.

Arrange on the fridge or whiteboard with words and phrases that will remind you of what’s most important this year!  Make those resolutions stick (if not for the remainder of the year, then at least on your fridge)!

paper clip christmas cards

December 15, 2011 § 24 Comments

So I thought (we all thought) my paper clip Christmas crafts were done with.  But I realized I hadn’t crafted a single Christmas card for the blog this season.  Gasp!  Is Christmas ten days away?  

Given my recent posts, paper clips were right here within reach and this was just too easy.  I happen to have a huge tub of colored paper clips with perfect shades for Christmas shapes.

These cards can be easily crafted by little hands.  Just dab the paper clips on some glue and design away.

chalkboard christmas cone

December 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

For a while I felt chalkboard crafts have grown tired, but I just couldn’t resist another!  It’s been a while since my last (the 3-D chalkboard cake I made for Craft was back in July).  What I also couldn’t resist (the carrot Easter basket I made for Canadian Living‘s The Craft Blog glares at me daily as it hangs by the doorway to my craft room) is another project using a dollar store safety cone…

So here it is, a chalkboard Christmas tree born out of a love affair between chalkboard spray paint and an orange safety cone.  And a couple of sprays of primer (you don’t want to skip priming!).

This project has actually been sitting on newspapers on the floor for the past week, dried and unattended for days.  I was so wrapped up in researching (nightly; obsessively) my own Christmas present to myself, erm, to Paper, Plate, and Plane (i.e. a new camera!), that I forgot all about it.  Then this morning, amidst packing my lunch for work and packing my clothes for an upcoming weekend in NYC with O.T., I remembered it was incomplete.  I hastily scribbled some designs before leaving for work.  As much as I would’ve wanted to spend time on them, I couldn’t.  But if and when you make one for yourself or your kids or grandkids, I wish you many hours of doodling merriment!

silver christmas tree from paper clips

December 6, 2011 § 6 Comments

Push pins.  Rubber bands.  And now for my final installment of Christmas décor out of office supplies.  A $4 box of 1,000 paper clips made up this avant-garde tree.

I was most looking forward to creating this out of all four trees I made, assuming all four would be equally simple.  I was wrong about this one.  The concept is simple, but, admittedly, fussy to achieve.

First you have to create a garland of paper clips by stringing them through a thin, light gauge wire.  I calculated about 2,000 consecutive seconds (33 minutes, at 2 seconds per paper clip) to finish this first and important step.  However, I was also intent on having each paper clip face the exact same way and discovered it was best to string the paper clip through the end that has a smaller loop.  The smaller loop acts as a lock to prevent the paper clip from shifting as much as it would had it been strung through the larger loop.   And I didn’t account for several spills.  Oh, also, 1,000 paper clips weren’t quite sufficient.  Luckily, I had some extras stashed from when I designed my paper clip necklace last December.   I used about 1,100 paper clips all in all, and the garland took much longer than the time allocated.

Then attaching the garland to a 6″ Styrofoam cone is presumably simple, too.  But not.  I inserted one end (at least 1-1/2″) of the wire into the side of the cone and started wrapping the garland around the cone (it really is important to use thin wire and not string, as the purpose of the wire is to be stuck into the cone).  This was when I ran into the problem of paper clips bunching together.  After several ineffective attempts, I managed to keep the paper clips aligned and flat on the table as I slowly wrapped the garland upwards.   I made sure I formed the wire along the cone to minimize the garland from sliding down (the weight of 1,100 paper clips will slide down).  Again, another important reason to use wire: so that the shape can be maintained.  When that is done, then the rest is simple.  I just secured the wire (at least 1-1/2″) into the top of the cone.

Despite it all, I’m glad I did this and the other trees!  If you’re just tuning in now, over the past three posts I made crystal Christmas trees from push pins, a shag Christmas tree from rubber bands, and rubber-band wrapped trees.  Enjoy!

rubber band-wrapped Christmas trees

December 5, 2011 § 11 Comments

I had enough rubber bands to spare from my one-pound bag to make these rubber band-wrapped Christmas trees as the third installment of my Christmas décor from office supplies.

If you’ve missed the previous two, you can find crystal Christmas trees from push pins here and a shag Christmas tree from rubber bands here.  And if you’re not into shaggy trees made of rubber bands, these here are chic and just as easy.

Cover Styrofoam cone with rubber bands horizontally.  Then vertically.  Done!  Now wasn’t that quicker than wrapping and gluing cones with sisal?

shag christmas tree from rubber bands

December 5, 2011 § 4 Comments

Now, now.  We all know the 70’s have made a feverish comeback.  Middle-parted long hair, wide jeans and trousers, and elevator wedges are rapidly ousting teased poufs, skinny pants, and flats.  Now onto 70’s shag for some home décor!

As you know, I’ve spent the majority of my weekend making holiday décor out office supplies.

So, I reached for a huge bag of rubber bands at Staples (a pound for less than $4) to hail the big comeback of the 70’s with a quick-n-easy shag Christmas tree.  No, not that kind of quick-n-easy shag.  Umm.  Indeed, a very quirky craft compared to yesterday’s classy crystal Christmas trees from clear push pins.  But who doesn’t love quirky?

One pound of rubber bands is more than enough to make two 9″ shag trees.

1. Cut one rubber band open.  Thread through rubber bands.

2. When you have enough rubber bands threaded through, tie in a knot to close.

3. Take your ring of rubber bands and place around the bottom of Styrofoam cone.

4. Cut all rubber bands open.

5. Continue steps 1-4 until you have your tree covered.

Now that I’ve stared at this craft for too long, I think I might add paper wings to the sides and a small Styrofoam ball (with closed eyes and a smile) on top of the tree and I’ve got a very unique Christmas angel!  I shall try it out…

Another variation of rubber band Christmas trees to follow.

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