In my last post about holiday decorating, I mentioned that I'm not so into the religiosity of the holiday season. Nonetheless, I have a teeny weenie nativity scene up in my apartment at the moment.
I've never put one up before, but my parents downsized from a house to a condo awhile back and I inherited what was left of the nativity scene my mother used to put out when I was a little girl. I think she got it from her mother-in-law, my grandmother, in the late 70s or early 80s. The pieces were made in Italy, from papier-mâché, and over the years, most have broken. This is probably for the best. (I was never all that comfortable with the set. It featured a snow-white Mary, Joseph and Baby Jebus, three "arab" styled worshipful wise men, and a variety of location-inappropriate livestock.)
Only five pieces remain: Mary, Joe and baby, plus one three-legged sheep and a grumpy looking horned cow, whose horns have seen better days.
So why did I set these aged pieces out? I don't know. I considered tossing them, or donating them to Goodwill, but somehow, when the time came, I felt strangely attached. I like their vintage flavour, the careful paint job on the papier-mâché, the retro colouring, the delicate nature of each handmade piece. I even like the grubby old bits of browned cotton they came wrapped in. They're wonderfully retro, if little else.
I figure, I'll put the last remaining pieces out for nostalgia's sake, and most likely, seeing as how I'm a big klutz, they'll break one by one, until I have no nativity at all. And then my natural instincts will take over and the Kalman-Selk home will be nativity-less forevermore.
Lookit what I made!
There's nothing new under the sun. Most of the time, anyway. This post is no exception. I've had a package of DAS air dry clay kicking around for over a year now and I've had many ideas on how to use it, but I just never got around to any of them. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I starting thinking about DIY ornaments and tags for the holidays and it occurred to me that I could probably make simple disks that would work as ornaments or tags, etc. Great idea, right? Sure, but not original. One Google search later, I realized I am the zillionth person to think of this, but nonetheless, I soldiered on with my plan and made some ornaments.
Scroll down to the end of the post to see the finished pieces, or read through for a full tutorial, complete with lessons learned.
First off, the sites and blogs and projects that inspired me:
Like I said... I'm not the first person to think of this. And I won't be the last! But this is a really easy craft project and I highly recommend it, unoriginal though it may be.
As mentioned, I started with a pack of DAS air dry clay. Alternately, you could mix up your own salt dough or use another medium. Any clay would probably work. Just be sure that you seal your finished products if your medium requires it, or your ornaments/tags won't last.
Now, here's what you do:
- Work your clay or dough into a ball. (If working with DAS, if it's a little dry/cracking, add a little water with your fingertips. If it's too wet, wait a bit or just keep working it till it's a little drier.)
- Roll it out with a rolling pin.
Here are a couple of hideous pictures of my work surface, taken in the harsh light of my kitchen at night:
Note: I worked directly on my countertop. It's hideous green melamine and I wasn't worried about sticking or damage. I hate my countertop. But whatever. Let's continue with the instructions, eh?
- Stamp the rolled clay/dough, or press in a textured object like a bit of greenery or a doily or something else - be creative. I used letter-stamps that I got at Dollarama a couple of years ago to stamp in the names of people in my family. You can use a stamp pad now for colour, or don't if you want to keep your ornaments white. I went with white. (Note, if you don't want to ink your stamps accidentally, make sure you've washed your previously used stamps with soap before letting them touch your clay/dough. I wash my stamps with an old toothbrush and some dish soap. Easy peasy.) Alternately, don't stamp in anything. Leave your dough smooth and decorate it after the clay is dry. Your call.
- Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. (I don't really bake and therefore, have no cookie cutters, so I used regular drinking glasses to cut out my disks. A shot glass/jigger worked for the small ones. I used a high ball glass for the big ones. The edge of a drinking glass isn't the sharpest thing ever, so a real cookie cutter would probably have worked better, but I encourage you to make do.
- Poke a hole in each ornament using a toothpick or a straw or any small round object. (I used a metal stake from an old orchid plant.) Smooth edges of the hole with your fingertips.
Here's a look at one of my stamped, cut out disks, ready to be scraped off the countertop. I used an exacto knife to loosen the bottom when the clay seemed a little stuck to my work surface. If you rely on prying up the disks by hand, you'll bend them and pull them out of shape. Not the best idea.
- Once lifted from the work surface, you'll notice that the edges of your disks will be a bit rough/flakey/torn-looking. I just gently smoothed mine down by hand, using wet fingertips. Alternately, DAS sands down very well once it's dry, so you can just fix any rough bits after the fact that way (more on that in the last bullet point).
- Lay ornaments out to dry (if using air dry clay). If you're using another medium, follow whatever instructions you have for drying. Flip 'em over periodically so that they dry evenly. I let mine sit out for about 24 hours of drying time.
Here's a photo of some of my stamped and plain disks drying on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
OKay now, for the last few steps:
- Once dry, give your pieces a light sanding. I used a nail buffer to sand mine. Nice and gentle. Pro tip: clay dust doesn't feel SUPER awesome in the lungs, so if you're sanding a bunch of these, you might want to wear a mask.
- Finally, go wild decorating. Use markers, paint, or whatever, or leave your disks plain. Do what's right for you, my crafty friends.
- Cover with a quick layer of sealant like Mod Podge, varnish, polyurethane, whatever works for you. This step is optional. It will make your ornaments last longer in the grand scheme of things. And string em up. I used white thread for mine, but ribbon, twine and yarn would all work well.
And now, for the exciting conclusion to this epic how-to post! Here's how my clay tags and ornaments turned out:
Not a bad project, imho. I have plenty of clay left over so I am going to have to try to think up some additional projects. This one was very satisfying indeed.
So, I was invited to the media breakfast/preview of the One Of A Kind Christmas Show
which kicked off down at the Ex this morning. (I don't know why I get invited to this sort of thing, because I am a big nobody. And let me tell you, watching the vendors get excited by my media pass and fancy camera kind of broke my heart, but I digress.) Invited I was, and went I did. I mean, the show costs $12/$14 (online/in-person) to get in, and as press, I could get in for free. Between that and the offer of a free doughnut, I wasn't going to say no.
And for once, I did the show right. I went up and down EVERY AISLE IN THE PLACE. My feet are currently incredibly sore and I'm a little grumpy, but I feel like I saw everything and took note of everything that really caught my eye. And I took photos of all of it, which I will now share with you, but first, a bit of a caveat:
As huge as this post is, it features only a small fraction of what's on display. (I believe there are more than 800 OOAK booths/vendors this year.) My personality means I'm drawn to decorative objects, fine art, and that sort of thing. Things I generally avoid, and that you won't likely see here, but that are in abundance at the show: kids' stuff, woollens and knits, clothing, most wood and leather goods, art glass and most pottery, food and edibles. I also steered clear of most of the cutesy stuff (felted creatures, owls, bunnies, and the like), most of the jewellery, most of the furniture, and all of the body/beauty products. All of that stuff is amazing in its own right, but I only stopped to photograph the things that really jumped out at me
, which may not be what will jump out at you. So... there. End caveat.Now, some pro tips:
- Work methodically. I saw every booth, starting at the east end of the centre (end of the alphabet) and moving west, winding up and down every aisle along the way. I know it seems a little anal, but making a plan for the path you want to take (and sticking to it) is a smart move. The show is overwhelming otherwise.
- Wear comfy shoes. SERIOUSLY. I was wearing Toms and my feet are still killing. (I saw a couple over-zealous young "journalists" in 4-5 inch heels, and I bet they want to kill themselves right now.)
- Give yourself a good three hours for your visit. Or even a full 1/2 day. It's better not to be rushed and if you want to see the whole thing, it's going to take you a long time. (Note: if you're bringing babies or little kids with you, as I noticed many did... well, you're crazy. What can I say? The rules don't apply. You may need 12 hours. Who knows?)
- Eat, hydrate and let yourself rest from time to time.
- CHECK YOUR COAT. It's hot as heck in the Direct Energy Centre. I have no idea why. Coat Check costs $2, but it's worth it.
Okay, enough with the tips. Are you ready to see what I saw? HERE GOES!
Stewart Jones: Booth R-57
These fine art paintings by local artist Stewart Jones were the very first thing that caught my eye. I stopped to snap this pic as I made my way along the back wall (before even making it to the first official aisle). Jones does "urban landscapes" and I'm sure his work doesn't come cheap, but I like the realness of his subject matter. Very Toronto.
Daniel Pollak Accessories: Booth T-54
I know I said I steered clear of most of the jewellery, but this booth was so glittery, it caught my eye immediately. So decadent, so sparkly, so over-the-top. It's fashion/costume jewellery, rather than fine jewellery, but I enjoyed it.
Kat Kaland: Booth Y-62
Artist Kat Kaland makes toys, illustrations, accessories, etc. She told me when I popped by that she's moving away from the toys and focussing more on art, and having seen the art -- paintings incorporating doll parts -- just my kind of creepy -- I think she's making a good decision. The pieces shown here, with the hands and the little 3D girl figures, go for about $200.
Moon Rox: Booth Y-20
Again, jewellery is hardly my thing, but it was early in the day and this gold-toned costume statement necklace caught my eye. Moon Rox is owned/designed by a woman named Monique V. Chan.
Noelle Hamlyn: Booth W-43
Hamlyn has been at the OOAK show before, showing off her repurposed art/purses made from books and magazines, but she's also doing framed artworks now, using the insides of the books (paper, illustration, etc.) as opposed to the outsides. Now, in general, I'm a "READ BOOKS, DON'T CUT THEM UP" sort of person, but I like what Noelle does nonetheless. Her bigger art pieces are about $165, while the smaller ones are about $90.
iDENTITY: Booth W-09
I stopped at this booth because of the hipster-factor. Megan Irish makes these pillows from recycled blankets (vintage Pendletons, The Bay/HSBC classics, army blankets, etc.) hipsterified with prints on top. Her company makes tees and other apparel as well, I think. The pillows are $48 to $108. (The HSBC ones are more pricey than the others.)
Heyday Design: Booth V-09
Hailing from Vancouver, Claire Madill makes these neat ceramic mason jars. You could achieve the same effect by painting a glass mason jar with flat paint, but nonetheless, these are nice as far a ceramics/porcelain go.
C Comme Ca: Booth V-43
Artist Cindy Cantin makes these bags and wallets from leather and wool felt and I thought they were super chic.
Dapila: Booth T-15
This stuff looks like ceramic, but it's mostly made of cement, which is sort of neat. I know body-parts and surrealist stuff isn't everyone's bag, but I sort of love it. I like the idea of using some of the finger sculptures to hold everyday objects like makeup brushes or razors.
Eric Seguin: Booth S-53
This is not a booth I'd usually stop at, filled as it was with knives and such, but I a few natural skulls caught my eye. These are otter, fox and mink, respectively. I have no idea why I like 'em, but I do.
Felt Factory: Booth R-19
These felt, mounted animal head pieces by artist Sabine Alpers are very well done. I love natural animal stuff (vintage, generally) but these might please the vegan in you if the real deal creeps you out.
Laurie Sponagle: Booth Q-31
These AH-MAZING charcoal drawings look like photographs. No kidding. That's how amazing they are. Artist Laurie Sponagle really stands out. Bigger pieces are priced at $1600, but there's a nice range of sizes available and the smaller pieces start at $250.
Tammy Shane: Booth Q-24
Tammy Shane is another stand-out fine artist exhibiting at the OOAK show. I would have bought one of her pieces in a heart beat if I could have. Gorgeous. Truly. I mean, look at those owls! Those birds! That sky! Love.
Yves' Drop: Booth N-06
Vintage neckties made awesome? Just my sort of thing. I kind of wish my husband would wear a tie every day. (And if he did, I get him a few of these babies.)
Tat Chao Design: Booth N-34
These glass candlesticks were pretty fabulous - substantial, yet delicate at the same time. Very unique. Tat Chao is a nice new addition to this year's show.
Sarah Tacoma: Booth L-23
Photography artist Sarah Tacoma caught my eye. I love how she captures stark branches and winter trees. And her pieces have rustic wood frames/mounts that I liked.
Sarah Hillock: Booth K-24
Sarah Hillock's huge paintings of farm animals (mostly cows, from what I saw) done on mylar, were maybe the most striking, unique thing at the entire OOAK show. I've never seen anything like Hillock's work in person before, and I have to say, I've never wanted a huge painting of a cow more. I mean... they're cows. And I'm a city girl. Yet I want one. Immediately.
Pepper Mills: Booth G-03
The name Pepper Mills kind of speaks for itself. These handmade, OOAK wood objects by Cam Lavers Designs Inc. aren't new to the show, but I've always liked them.
Him by Shima Itabashi: Booth D-5
I know I said I was going to stay away from cutie-pie felted things, but this booth's wee decorations spoke to me more than the works of other felt artists doing similar things. There's something really authentic and adorable about Him pieces and designer Shima Itabashi seems like a sweetheart. Her English isn't perfect, but that just adds to the charm.
Ateliers des Cent-ans: Booth C-36
This booth was a bit spare, but what I saw of the porcelain and wood pieces inside definitely left an impression. The stuff I loved most was delicate and white, with slim blue nautical patterning. Very chic.
Grace Eunmie Lee: Booth C-44
Some of Grace Eunmie Lee's wee white ceramics are highlighted with bits of shiny metallic and colour, but her monochrome pieces are my favourites. I love their small stature and weird, offbeat cuteness. Some of these wee works are merely decorative, while others are functional (salt and pepper shakers, for example).
Evelyne Rivest Savignac: Booth I-37
Interestingly, while I initially passed this booth during my official "go down every aisle" run, I didn't stop at it the first time around. I'm not sure why. Maybe the crowds were too thick and I didn't get a good look. Happily, I needed to hit a bank machine before leaving which took me on a second trip down row "i" and that's when I noticed Evelyne Rivest Savignac's pretty ceramics. The artist told me she's been a vendor at the show for the last eight years, so if you've been in the past, you may remember her. I was especially charmed by her little leafy bowls. They have the vibe of something sold at Anthropologie (but are much more authentic, of course).
And that's IT.
Honestly, I saw some other stuff I liked (bow-ties by Genuine Article
, for example.) but I just can't write about any more. This is already the most unwieldy blog post I've ever written.
Go to the show. Enjoy. Support your indie artists and crafty friends. And remember, wear comfy shoes. And if you're not too exhausted afterwards, tell me what you got!
P.S. Sorry about the lighting in some of these shots. I'm no photographer and since artists provide their own light at each booth, dimness is an issue.
P.P.S. Shout-outs to my web friends Jen @ Rambling Renovators
and Staci @ Switch Studio
for letting me talk their ears off at breakfast, Pam @ Cherish Toronto
for being my favourite person to run into at these things, and House & Home magazine staffer/editor Margot Austin
(who I may or may not have terrified when I declared "I'm obsessed with you!" - because I'm the sort of weirdo who says things like that, apparently). Sigh.
Hey friends. I had a Halloween decorating brainwave last night and had to share it with you.
You know those Jeeves and Wooster pendant lights by London-based Jake Phipps? You probably noticed them make the rounds shelter mag and blog rounds awhile back, but I'll refresh your memory:
I don't know if I could commit to something like this full time, but don't you think there's something vaguely unsettling, almost-creepy about the look? And with that in mind, wouldn't it be perfect for Halloween? Dollarama has black bowler hats (not wool or felt, but not bad quality either, for a Halloween costume item) in stock right now. They're $2 a piece. I already have one, which is currently just sitting (creepily) on my coffee table, but I was thinking of getting a few more and hanging them from fishing line or thread from the ceiling for a sort of unusual Halloween display, leaving out the dark black wire/stems (for more of a "floating" effect).
It's would be very Magritte, no? Surrealist.
Magritte's The Son of Man, 1964.
As I said, the hats currently at Dollarama are just cheapo felt (all the better for stringing up, in my opinion). I'd like about $10, which would make this a $20 project, not including the labour involved in attaching the strings and such to the ceiling.
Cheapo bowler, available from Dollarama or just Google for "felt party bowler hat" for options online.
Worth it? Good idea? Yea or nay?
So, you know that blog over on the Reviews page about going to Biff's Bistro
in Toronto for cheap oysters? (Om nom nom. Amirite?) I've been on a oyster kick lately. Can't help it. I crave them 24/7. And because I've been eating so many of them, I've been looking at their shells and thinking about how strangely ugly/beautiful they are. All that variated green, white and brown. And I love that moonstone/rosy rainbow colour you sometimes see on the inside.
They're so pretty. So... I started thinking... maybe I should bring some home and make something with 'em?! Yayayaya! Craft inspiration!
I was so excited about this idea that, like the big fat weirdo that I am, the last time I ate oysters, I asked my waitress if I could take the shells home with me. It was embarrassing, but she said it was definitely not the first time she'd had such a request. However, she warned me to be careful. The bacteria that can go along with raw oysters is bad. Like, "it could kill you" bad. Wash 'em thoroughly, she said.
And I did. I took home my stinky old oyster shells, washed and scrubbed each one with a toothbrush, and then left them to soak overnight in a disinfectant bath with a splash of bleach mixed with water.
They're no longer dangerous bacteria-wise, but sadly, they're not as beautiful as they were either, in my opinion. All the pretty green stuff, the browns, etc? All that was organic material, algae and whatnot, killed by my disinfectant bath, which left the shells looking more white than anything else. Le sigh. They've still got nice hints of black, pink and purple, but without the greens, they lose something, I think.
Still, they are pretty and I want to use them. But for what?! Initially, I was thinking they'd be good for jewellery display. I was thinking I might start photographing some of the costume jewellery I sell in my shop
nestled into oyster shells, like pearls might be. But I dunno. Is that weird? Are they too small to work as "boxes?" I just don't know.
If you bought a piece of vintage jewellery and it arrived to you in the mail, nestled in an old oyster shell, would you be weirded out?
Anyway, if you have any wonderful decorative ideas for 'em, I'd love to hear.
Has your IKEA catalogue arrived? Mine showed up a few nights ago and I've poured through the whole thing.
Here are a few of the new things that jumped out at me. (And this time, I'm SURE they're new, since the catalogue identifies them as such. No mistakey-poos, like last time I posted on such things.)
I'm in love with these SANELA curtains. They're 100% cotton velvet and they come in such a pretty turquoise blue. It's a bit like a Tiffany blue, actually. $79.99 for a pair of panels. They appear on page 40 of the 2012 catalogue (and on subsequent pages).
Speaking of turquoise, here's another new thing I noticed: The classic MALM is now going to come in grey-turquoise in addition to the more run-of-the-mill shades always offered. It's priced at $99. Kind of a fun update. See it on page 64 of the catalogue.
There's also this "kitchen cart" in turquoise. It appears MANY times in the catalogue, notably on page 109. I don't know how I feel about it. It has a retro feel, but ... I sort of think it's ugly. Am I wrong? It's $69.99.
Getting away from turquoise for a moment, take a look at this new series of shelving units. The series is called VITTSJö and features pieces made of tempered glass and powder-coated steel. The look is surprisingly luxe, and yet, inexpensive. This unit is only $50 and a piece that is around double this size is $90. You could spray paint the steel gold and the piece would look like a high-end étagère. (I'd totally try that if I had the space for more shelving.) See it online or on page 150.
I thought this low-pile LAPPLJUNG RUTA rug was sort of cool and graphic at first. Only $89.99, 200 x 200 cm (about 6.5 ft square). But what's with that banding detail!? Kind of ruins the whole thing for me. (See it on page 183.)
Alternately, here's another new black and white number from the rug department: the FERLE rug. Only $39.99. Low pile polyppropylene. Maybe for a kid's room? Seems sort of fun. It's a little small (195 x 133 cm or about 6.5 by 4.5 feet), but it's way cheap and probably hardwearing.
On to something I expect to be a big seller: the new TARVA line. It's untreated there are several pieces to chose from. (This dresser is $139.) It reminds me of the regularly-hacked RAST piece. Lots of potential to customize here, hence my prediction that it will sell. Might be a bit pricey (considering that the RAST is only $39.99), but the styling is nicer... I'd buy it. And then I'd go crazy hacking it into something unrecognizable. See it on page 265.
And with that, I'm going to end as I usually do when writing an IKEA post: on an ugly note. What is UP with this effing lamp? I usually think the IKEA PS collections are wonderful, but this lamp 2012 LED lamp makes me gag. It's (obviously) inspired by a tutu. Ick. I won't tell you what page(s) it appears on. You'll notice it every time. And if you're like me, you'll gag. Every time.
Oh well. When it comes to IKEA, you can't win 'em all.
Anyhoo babaloo, those are the things that jumped out at me. I might have to take a run over the IKEA to check 'em out in person. Happy Friday.
I know I haven't been blogging as much lately. I've been focusing my attention on Will & Bequeath
and it's kind of hard to keep switching gears to write about so many different things. Also, the shop is taking up a lot of my free time, leaving little room for crafting, etc. I wonder if I'll be able to find a balance and ultimately keep doing both, or if I'll eventually have to choose...?
But I digress.
I'm writing today to talk about the shop, actually. Or at least, to talk about some of my thoughts about the shop, and about trying to learn to navigate that kind of creative business.
Here's my issue: I want my shop to be beautiful. And I can't help but be inspired by other vintage shops out there, but I don't want to rip off anyone else's ideas/style.
With writing, it's easy. A solid career and a couple of English degrees have made plagiarism easy to avoid, but when it comes to "style" I'm finding myself worrying constantly about being a copycat.
Let me explain in a bit more detail, using the example of Eddie Ross
I've long been a fan of Ross and have been following his blog and his Etsy store since each of them launched. Ross
uses a grey background and a natural tabletop cover (burlap?) as a backdrop for his shop wares. Look:
Now, I've been wanting to create a NEW set for my own shop wares -- something that will allow me to shoot consistent photographs of my stock all year long. (Right now, I shoot outside, in the grass, but come winter, that will no longer be possible. And besides, I'd like my wares to look a little more professional.)I've been experimenting with different backgrounds and tabletops and the combo I like best so far is ... a dark grey background with a burlap-covered tabletop.Sure, the grey is darker (and it's paint, not fabric) and the burlap is a different weave/texture/tone, but still... it's basically the same background. So...Am I ripping Ross off?In the age of Pinterest, etc. when we're constantly bombarded with visuals that are meant both to impress and inspire us, how do we come up with original ideas? I can't unsee what I've already seen and I can't say that I haven't been inspired by other people's beautiful work, but when is inspiration a good thing and when it is just copycatting?Anyway, this is what's on my mind. Weigh in if you have any insights.
I have to confess, that sometimes, I buy things just because I like the packaging. Foodstuffs, I mean.
And it doesn't MATTER. No one sees inside my cabinets. But nonetheless, I like them to be pretty, which is why I buy this stuff.
I am the only person who does this? Come on now, confess. I don't like feeling l like a lone weirdo.
Okay, friends. I need your help.
See, I have this sofa. It's deco-era yellow vinyl number that I bought for only $100 (plus $30 in shipping) off Craigslist back in 2007. It has served me well and fits perfectly in our small living room.
It's a great little sofa. Solidly structured with foam and innards in good condition. Problem is, the vinyl is going. You can't tell in the pictures, but on the seat cushions, it's cracked and peeling like a mofo. It doesn't look good.
Now, here is my dilemma: I would love to keep the sofa. I've looked into having it reupholstered, and I estimate it will cost about $1200 to do so. Considering our personal finances, this is a LOT of money. For between $300 and $400, we could reupholster just the seat cushions and leave the rest of the frame as is, but again, it's a pretty pricey prospect.
I'm torn. I'm torn because I spent so little on the sofa to begin with, so perhaps spending a lot now isn't such a big deal. Then again, I could get a new sofa for less than reupholstering, and a new/old Craigslist model for WAY less. Financially speaking, a different sofa makes more sense. But I don't want to send this perfectly good piece to a landfill either, not when it can easily be rehabilitated to last another 20 years, in any fabric I want...
Speaking of which, here are a couple of the fabrics I've been considering were we to reupholster:
Trina Turk's Peacock, (which I think may be too much):
Dwell's IKAT Citrine:
I just don't know what to do. 1. Nothing. Live with the tears until we feel comfortable spending on redoing the sofa right.2. Reupholster: spend the money and get the sofa we want and the pleasure of knowing we saved something from landfill death. Try not to be so fussy about money.3. Reupholster just the cushions.4. Ditch this sofa and get something affordable new/old from Craigslist or similar.You guys are stylish and smart. Weigh in, would you? And if you have fabric ideas, I'd love to hear them. If we reupholster, we're going to have the lovely Staci at Switch Studio do the work.
.. which means we also will have to haul the piece to and from Oakville from Toronto...Sigh. I am paralysed. Help!