Monday, December 12, 2011

What's been keeping me busy...

You mean besides Pinterest? Technically this does involve Pinterest since I found the ideas on there. This idea has been re-pinned hundreds of times, and it's one of the first craft projects from the site that I did - a Wedding Invitation Ornament:


The idea is to cut up a wedding invitation into strips and put them inside a clear glass ornament. As you twist and turn the ornament, you can see glimpses of the wording. As soon as I saw the idea, I knew I'd be making one for my cousin and her new husband.

Luckily, I helped the bride with the invitations, so I had the files on my computer and didn't have to cut up the actual invitation itself. I printed out a copy and set to work cutting up the strips but I wasn't all that thrilled with the results. The size of the font varies, which adds visual interest, but doesn't lend itself to being cut up into neat, equally sized strips and it was difficult to gauge spacing between some of the smaller lines. It was bothering me that there were skinny little strips and much thicker strips. After several attempts, I decided to re-format the invitation itself into equally sized strips, which looked MUCH better inside the ornament (and let's not discuss the fact that I bought two sizes of ball shaped round ornaments, and two sizes of flattened round ornaments because I am a nut job and none of them are actually glass because they don't seem to sell individual glass ornaments but I have come to terms with the fact they are acrylic, mmmmkay?)

Once I got the strips coiled and stashed inside the ornament (a chopstick and a pair of long tweezers came in handy for this), I finished off the ornament with a sheer white ribbon from the actual invitation (they were pocket invites tied with the ribbon) and two smaller black ribbons to tie on their initials. The original ornament had a seashell charm as a nod to the theme of the wedding, and I liked the idea of the charm, but there was no "theme" to the wedding. I did, however, honor the black and white color scheme. I love, love, love how it turned out and I think my cousin and her husband will love it as well.

But that's not the only ornament I've finished up. In addition to the stitchy ornaments, I've been working with some buttons I've inherited from my husband's grandmother. She passed away this past January, just after her 99th birthday. My MIL generously gave me a very large jar and several bags of buttons that Grandma had collected over the years. I've had a lifelong fascination with buttons, stemming from the hours I spent playing with my own grandmother's buttons (both my grandmother and my husband's grandmother were accomplished seamstresses and had massive collections of buttons, fabric and notions).

I had some ideas for button monograms, but I wanted to see what else I could do with them, especially with shank buttons that would not lend themselves to being glued onto paper and framed. This is what I came up with:

These are just a few of the ornaments I created from Grandma's collection. (There are at least a dozen more ornaments I finished since taking this photo, and I've tried several other techniques which I will share soon.) Of course, most of the buttons were not sorted, so I spent several hours with my two year old, "playing buttons" (which means I spent several more hours while he slept re-sorting all the ones he had jumbled together). Most of them are strung on pipe cleaners, which worked out very well to not only shape the ornaments, but the fuzzy stuff on them helps hold the buttons in place better. For those that kept spinning around on their shanks, a little hot glue on the back helped hold them in place. I raided my own stash for the ribbons and have gotten VERY good at tying neat little bows.

I should also mention that I don't really have a dedicated craft space in our house yet, so I tend to work a lot in our dining room. (We generally eat in the kitchen, so I don't have to worry about cleaning up my projects for every meal.) All of these ornaments were made sitting at a dining room table we inherited from Grandma, so I spent a lot of time thinking about her as I was making them. She was quite crafty and clever herself and loved to crochet and sew. I loved her dearly, and these ornaments are a wonderful reminder of her.

This is a closeup of one of the ornaments we're keeping for our tree. It's hanging next to one of the dozens of hand-crocheted snowflakes that adorn our tree, every single one of them made by Grandma. And this one below is another closeup:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Fair & Square Exchange... and I FINISHED something!

I have been stitching, and I'm on a bit of a finishing kick. I have several ornaments I wanted to make sure were completely finished and ready to hang. It's a goal I made for myself when I realized that the ornament I stitched for my son *last* Christmas has yet to be completed (I have to add on some JABC buttons) and finished as an ornament. I plan on getting that one done (and up on the blog as well as the tree) by the end of the year. Please do not ask me about his 2011 ornament. I will probably get to that sometime this July.

But I have been keeping up with my Fair & Square Exchanges. They're small, manageable projects that motivate me to stitch and I was determined to get this one done and out the door well before the deadline. At least I accomplished THAT goal.

I was paired up with my friend Marie P again, which was wonderful. I stitched for Marie last year, and was thrilled that we were partnered up again. But this time, instead of heading off to Texas, her squares made their way to her new home in Vermont (now there's a change of scenery for sure!). We chose to do squares of with a Christmas theme, and I wanted to honor Marie's new home. This fit the bill for sure, and is from Little House Needleworks, one of Marie's favorite designers. I also wanted to make sure I stitched something Marie didn't already have, so I picked it from the 2011 JCS Ornament Issue.

Fresh Fallen Snow by Little House Needleworks
2011 JCS Ornament Issue
Stitched over 2 on 32 ct. WDW Cocoa
with WDW Seaweed and Light Khaki


And these are the squares that Marie sent to me:

The design is Christmas Lighthouse by Of Generations Past and I have been admiring this design at my LNS the last few times I've been in, but couldn't bring myself to buy it because I have *so much stuff* to stitch already. I'm absolutely thrilled Marie stitched it for me, and I have another surprise - it's finished into a ornament and hanging on our tree! I was in the middle of finishing up some ornaments to be given as gifts this year (which you'll see in upcoming posts) and these squares went right into the pile. Luckily, the shape lent itself to a very easy finish and it was done in no time (and I genuinely appreciate the signature squares, not only for the personalization, but for the fact I do not have to hunt down backing fabric.)

It's in good company - we probably have two dozen lighthouses (and adding more every year) on our tree. I try to collect an ornament for every lighthouse we visit, as well as ones that are non-specific. Once again, great thanks to Marie!