Okay, friends. So remember earlier today when I declared that I was determined to make a last-minute DIY advent calendar? Well... I did it. It's done. The results aren't exactly amazing, but it worked.
Basically (my super cheap, super last minute) DIY advent calendar is made of 25 little wedding favour ring bags made of some sort of shiny poly muslin, with ribbon drawstring closures that I got at Dollarama. (Each packet contains 6 bags. You can probably find them in the party section, near the cards, napkins, plastic plates, etc.) To made the calendar, cinch the bags, tack them to a cork board, and number each one with a little slip or square of paper. I stamped the numbers on mine, but you could just as easily hand-letter them. The bags are decorated with little bits and bobs from around my house and yard - sprigs of evergreen, buttons, little scrolls of kraft paper, etc. I just improvised with what I had around. Like I said, the project was super cheap, and ultimately, very simple, though I will warn the perfectionists out there that you'll likely find it irritating and finicky if you want the bags to line up perfectly (I didn't, so it was no big deal).
I wanted to get this post up quickly, so I took these photos before actually filling the bags with treats or favours. Nate and I don't have kids yet, so we might put in notes to each other, or just a series of little candy treats. I haven't decided yet.
Considering that as of this morning, November 30th, I had no ideas, no plan, and no advent calendar, I'm calling today a success. What do you think? Good project?
Guys... I don't know if you are aware of this, but tomorrow is December 1st. TOMORROW.
And gosh darn it... I want an advent calendar. I don't know why. I've never really had one before and I've certainly never made one, but this year, I just wanna. BUT DECEMBER STARTS TOMORROW so I'm in a bit of a rush. I woke up this morning determined to come up with something good. I even started a project. See? I made these little clay disks stamped with numbers.
And then it occurred to me that this was a dumb idea. The disks are going to take 24 hours to dry. I DON'T HAVE 24 HOURS! So forget the disks. I am going to come up with something else. Something good. Something before the end of the day. Are you with me, folks? Say you are. Will post the results of this silly last minute idea later.
P.S. I've already made the number disks, so what should I do with them?! I don't want to waste my crafty effort. Shameful hint: I used my wedding band to cut them out. It was sharp and the right size. That's not weird, right?
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:
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?
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.
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:
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.
For once, I feel like I'm on top of the holiday season. It's not even December, and already I'm decorating, getting into the spirit, listening to annoying carols. This is both slightly shameful and something of a victory.
Anyway, I thought I'd do a quickie post to ease y'all into all the holiday goodness I've been planning. It's about some of the stuff I've be seeing in magazines lately. Personally, my holiday decorating is dominated by Goodwill and Dollarama finds (more on that in a later post), but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate what's going on in the world of mainstream retail. And frankly, a few of the things I've seen this year -- particularly from Restoration Hardware -- have been pretty darn nice. If I wasn't so cheap, I might actually splurge on some of this stuff. For example:
Are these light-up holiday "trees" - or rather, bare branches - not particularly gorgeous? I'm so into them. They're called "Winter Wonderland" trees and they come in three sizes. Right now, the littest one (4') is on sale for $65.
And what about these Antler wreaths? So spare and understated. They're not natural, but rather, made of resin and they come in various sizes. However, I think the smallest, cheapest one is over $150 on sale, and that's just too pricey for me.
Finally, I think these "Victorian Glass Snowflake" ornaments are very pretty. Then again, when you consider what you can get in plastic that looks basically as good, I don't think they're worth the price. A single ornament goes for about $15.
Anyway, like I said, mainstream retail doesn't often float my boat, but I still find these images and offerings inspiring. My next post will be about some of my more budget-friendly finds and ideas for the holiday season, so stay tuned for that if, like me, you have a cheapskate heart.
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:
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.
Jen Selk Chic is one of those annoying, hard to classify blogs that's about a bit of everything to do with style. Mostly it's about interior design, vintage junk, collecting and my Goodwill addiction. It's about the things I love (the chic things, not the weird things). I hope you love them too.
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