Wednesday, October 29, 2014

AFI Art Pumpkins

Two pumpkins I've made based on AFI album art.  See all my pumpkin carving posts. 

DIY Richard Castle 'WRITER' Vest Costume

For all my costume posts, click here.  

This Halloween I'm going as Castle (from the show Castle), and to do so required making his 'WRITER' printed bullet-proof vest. 

-Dark Blue Vest
-Dark Blue Cloth (I used a light weight denim)
-White Screen-Printing ink and a paint brush
-Safety Pins

I cut out four pieces of fabric - two large ones for the writing and two smaller ones for fake chevrons. The larger pieces were 11.5 x 4 inches, and the smaller pieces are 9 x 3.5 inches. The smaller pieces are long so that they can wrap over the shoulders. 

I used 'Impact' font in Microsoft Word as it appeared to be the closest to what is used in the show.  I traced the text off my computer using a pencil.  Then I hand-painted the words using screen-printing ink.  I let them dry, then ironed the pieces before attaching them to the vest. I iron both sides for a few minutes, with the cloth under a piece of a paper bag. 
Click here for my full article on screen printing.

I safety-pinned the pieces onto the vest, and to each other to help keep them from flapping over. 

The rest of the costume consists of jeans and a long-sleeve blue button up shirt.  Going simple this year. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

More White Board Drawings

 Some doodles I've been doing on whiteboards lately

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wedding Centerpieces: Vines in Birdcages

Recently had a wedding and we decided that we would make all our own centerpieces. We made three types: Orchids, Bird Cage Vines, and Succulents.  Here is how we made the Bird Cage Vines.
For the succulent dishes, click here
For the orchid dishes, click here

 We bought bird cages at a variety of stores, particularly Michaels.  I then bought clay pots to fit the cages without overwhelming them.  I painted the pots white if they were going into white cages, or left them clay colored if they were going into green cages.

For vines, I used pothos and coleus, because I had the plants already growing in my house.  They are both easily propagated by just sticking stem clippings into a jar of water for two weeks until the roots are an inch or two long.  For more info on propagating these plants, check out these posts: Pothos Propagation, Coleus Propagation.

I at first started with two pothos and one coleus in each pot.  Later on I ended up adding more coleus stems to each pot, so if I were to do it again I would just start with two pothos and three coleus in each pot. Water daily at first, then every few days or weekly.  If the leaves are droopy it means they need water. 

Gently place the pots in the cages and close the lids.  You will need to thread the vines through the cage; make sure not to let any get smushed!

Shown: Leaf threaded through the cage, not getting smushed!

I then hung the cages in front of an east facing window for about 9 months (this was a long-term plan).  The vines don't grow very quickly, particularly the pothos, so planning ahead helps! If you are in a hurry, just use longer clippings to start with (if you have long enough clippings, you don't need to let them grow any more at all!).  Keep in mind that coleus changes color depending on how much light it receives!

The bird cages were still around at Christmas, so they received some decorations.
Using two pothos and three coleus per pot worked well since we had a long time to let them grow.

In total they hung for around 9 months in the apartment before the wedding.

Wedding Centerpieces: Orchids

Recently had a wedding and we decided that we would make all our own centerpieces. We made three types: Orchids, Vines, and Succulents.  Here is how we made the orchid dishes!

For the Succulent Dishes, click here

For the Bird Cage Vines, click here

We chose to put two orchids in each dish; one large and one small.  We actually used IKEA as our orchid source as they had the most available.  We kept the orchids in their original pots to reduce the risk of flower shedding.  When selecting orchids, I looked for orchids that had at least one un-opened bud, to increase the likelihood that the flowers weren't about to shrivel up and fall off.  We also bought them only two days in advance, to further reduce the risk of damaging the flowers.   

The pots the orchids came in were slightly shorter than the dish we were putting them in, so we needed a way to raise them up a bit so that the top of the pot was level with the top of the dish.  We ended up using bubble-wrap and taped it in a cone around the pots to give them a nice solid base.

 We then filled in the dish with Spanish Moss.  This was mostly because it was easy and cheap and I'd already bought a lot of it, but really any light, space filling material would work.  The benefit of the moss is that it looks nice if it peaks through the top layer. If you have enough available, you can also just you regular green sphagnum moss for this step.  Really wedge the moss in there are much as you can to prevent the orchids from shifting or falling over.      

On top of the Spanish Moss we then layered regular green sphagnum moss (the brown colored moss) and then bits of preserved green sphagnum moss (the actually green moss).  Make sure the moss completely covers the orchid pots!

The final touch was a few river rocks over the moss.  These looked nice but also had the added bonus of helping anchor down the orchids.

**Update: We ended up taking two of these centerpieces home with us and a year later 3 of the 4 orchids are still alive! While these were not set up with longevity in mind, it turns out you can keep the orchids around in them fairly long term.  The one orchid that did die rotted from over watering after about 8 months.  Over watering is the biggest risk since the planters are not well aerated and hold moisture. 

Wedding Centerpieces: Succulents

Recently had a wedding and we decided that we would make all our own centerpieces. We made three types: Orchids, Vines, and Succulents.  Here is how we made the succulent dishes!

For the orchids, click here

For the Bird Cage Vines, click here

Each dish contains one big succulent in the center and numerous smaller succulents (5-10) around the edges.  The more succulents you can get into the pot, the better it will look!  We started with the big center succulents; make sure they are big enough considering how large of pots you are using.

The smaller succulents are then added around the large succulents in a circle, making the pots as full as possible.  The most important thing is to have as little substrate (dirt)showing as possible.  We used a mix of 50/50 perlite and dirt, which helped keep the pots super light and easy to move around.  A lot of the smaller succulents are trimmings from other plants and don't yet have full root systems so we just stuck them directly into the dirt. 

Once all the succulents and dirt were in place, we started covering the top with a layer of pebbles.  I bought the pebbles in a bulk bag used for landscaping, and they came covered in mud, so they needed to be washed first. 

 The dirt was completely covered with pebbles.  Had we been more creative we also could have alternated pebble color and such.

Finally, we added a ribbon around each pot before putting them on the tables.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Eloise Butler


An acrylic painting based loosely on a photo I took.  The below photos show the progression of the work; it starts out with a very rough outline. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DIY Enclosed Jar Moss Terrarium

Last year I set out to see how I could best grow moss indoors.  I tried a few different set ups including enclosed and non-enclosed containers, but of my four trials only one survived the whole year; an apothecary jar with a lid.

-Glass Jar with Lid
-Sphagnum Moss
-Charcoal (powdered)
-Live moss

My first layer was a few large rocks.  This is actually mostly just to take up space, as they provide no real function otherwise.

My second layer was powdered charcoal.  I actually used some old charcoal capsules that I had to open by hand (messy!). The idea of the charcoal is to capture toxins or something and prevent mold from growing in the jar. 

My third layer was some colored sand.  The color is nice to give the jar a little more variety.

My fourth layer was sphagnum moss.  I read somewhere online that this is helpful to help keep the dirt from falling into the sand/rocks, though I'm not convinced it is necessary.

My fifth layer was dirt

My sixth layer is the moss itself! I found some outside in my yard and pulled up enough to cover the top of the dirt.  Larger pieces work better than small pieces (some of the small pieces I used to fill in gaps died during the year, but the main large piece is still doing well). I patted down the dirt a bit before plopping the moss on top. 

Care:  After getting all the layers down, I gave the jar a few sprays of water with a spray bottle.  As it is a closed container I did not want there to be so much water that it pools at the bottom, but enough that the dirt is damp and some condensation can occur on the inside of the glass.  The jar I used does not completely seal, so I open it and spray it every couple of weeks or so if the dirt looks like it is drying out.  This very minimal care is why this jar has survived while my other experiments did not.  I made a few open-air moss containers, but they needed daily spraying or they would dry out, and I decided it was too much work to keep them alive.  There have been a few times where I have 'over-watered' the jar and gotten some amount of mold growing, usually at the tops of the moss tendrils.  I have simply opened the jar, removed the visible mold, and then let the jar sit open for a bit to reduce the moisture.  So far this strategy has worked well to keep the mold at bay. I keep the jar out of direct sunlight to keep the moss happy.