i made devil sticks!

otherwise known as juggling sticks or flower sticks, but i've always called them devil sticks. i used to have a pair in college, but i don't recall what happened to them. i've been wanting to make some for a while now and finally did it. i made a set for alex and a set for myself. i followed instructions that i found on instructables. the one thing i would change is that i would have covered the juggling stick completely instead of that criss cross pattern. they said it wouldn't make a difference in how they perform, however they are a little slippery in between the innertube. i got some dowel rods and cut one long and two shorter sticks for each set. i got a couple of bicycle innertubes for wrapping and for the end tassles, electric tape and push pins. they were fun to make and relatively easy. they are going to take a lot of practice before i or alex can do any tricks - we are still trying to volley the juggling stick. but it's a fun outdoor activity that doesn't require a lot of room, they're easy to travel with, and you don't need anybody else in order to play. i particularly like how alex's pair (the green ones, of course) have some of the innertube print still on the tassles.


i sprouted!

sprouts have long been a staple in john and my diets. i think i got hooked on them with my first earth day bagel from bagel and deli in oxford, ohio. yum yum yum. in the past few years they have disappeared from our grocery stores and sandwich shops and everywhere i've looked. i guess people aren't cleaning them and are subsequently getting sick. we've been missing sprouts and then about a week or so ago john said i wonder if we can make our own sprouts! it had never dawned on me that we could. and guess what? they're super easy. so i set out to research the best ways to do it and decided on this tray system. it came with some alfalfa seeds and i also bought a salad seed mix which consists of broccoli, radish, alfalfa and clover seeds. this tray system has three stacking trays so our first go i did two trays of alfalfa and one tray of the salad mix. i'm so excited. in less than a week we have a ton of sprouts ready to eat and they look delicious. i'm going to start new batches this weekend and keep experimenting with some different seeds and beans. they're healthy, delicious and easy - plus they go with everything!


imperial beer

at our house we craft a lot of our holiday gifts. all 3 of us. this year john made two different kinds of home brew for gifts: an imperial blond ale and an imperial pale ale. they turned out rather tasty. and usually i make custom labels for his beers. as soon as i heard "imperial" of course i thought of stormtroopers and asked john if he minded if i geeked up the beer labels. my friend had already redrawn the troopers so i asked him if i could have those and i did the hand lettering throughout. i used the old school trooper for the blond ale and the force awakens trooper for the pale ale. i think they turned out super fun. and they make perfect gifts for this year since everyone is a star wars fan right now.


star wars diy gifts

Alex has a great teacher this year (she has had great teachers every year thus far actually.) His favorite movie is Star Wars! and obviously, we just love Star Wars as well, so we made a few items to give to Alex's teacher as part of his holiday gift. you can't see it in the picture except for a corner of it, but I also designed and printed and sewed an R2D2 tea towel for him. I drew a cute little Chewbacca and had him printed and I sewed him into a bean bag doll - Alex likes to help me pour the bean bag pellets into the dolls when I make them. I also poured some concrete death stars. I glued on some little rubbery feet on the bottom and painted the bottom half silver. I think that will make a nice little desk adornment or paper weight. and finally, Alex and I made him a little Star Wars terrarium in a ball jar. we used little micro machine Obi Wan and Darth Vader characters for the scene. we do have a couple of other small items to add to the gift, but for a Star Wars fan I am hoping he will love this handmade gift set.


Princess Leia

 I've been working since January or so to make Alex's Halloween costume. she decided a long, long time ago (probably the day after Halloween 2014) that she wanted to be Leia. I didn't really think thru the fact that it would be such a popular costume this year. but she doesn't seem to mind. in fact, she said hers would be better than everyone else's anyways because i made it. so anyways, here's how i made Alex's A New Hope movie accurate Leia costume. I started with the hat. I asked Alex if she wanted to wear a wig or a hat and she wanted nothing to do with a wig. so i set out to find a Leia buns hat pattern. I didn't really like anything I found so i pieced together a few different patterns and put my own twist on the buns to crochet her hat. I love the part in the hat - i had to redo that several times to get it right. And the hat is really warm and cozy - it basically has built in ear warmers. Then I started working on both the belt and the dress at the same time. The dress looks rather simple to make, but as it turns out it is way more complicated than you'd think. It's a double layered white jersey gown with the long hood - that's a lot of fabric. I basically made this dress twice since I made the pattern myself and made a few mistakes along the way. I researched and read a bunch of different tutorials and padawan guides for making adult sized Leia gowns. I took Alex's measurements and set out to make a pattern out of excess old fabric that I had on hand. I had to make adjustments to the pattern, but not too bad. I wish I had made the arms a little longer, but I am happy with the length since I didn't want her tripping over the gown. There's even the slit in the sides like in the movie. I don't have a lot of experience with this type of fabric and i hand stitched quite a bit of it (which I prefer to machine sewing anyways.) I made the hood pattern wrong the first time - math error! so i made that part a second time as well. and i had never made a keyhole opening in clothes before nor had I made a mandorin collar before. I made the collar wrong the first time as well, but re-measured; made a new pattern and made it again. So, yes, I made every single part of this gown twice! and before i hemmed the bottom of the dress I sewed an elastic waste into the gown. I know, that part is not movie specific, but this is an 8 year old and it would be way easier for her to wear with that waste line sewn in. And finally I hand stitched the hem of the dress. I am so happy with how it turned out. It did not dawn on me until I finished that she would be wearing this at school at most likely get chocolate frosting or cupcake or something on this gown. I sprayed the entire thing with scotch guard - recommended by a friend of mine (thanks for the fabulous idea, Alison.) We'll see how well that works, but I figure if it doesn't then she'll just be post trash compactor Leia then. Finally the belt. I made the fabric part of the belt out of faux leather - I kind of wish I had gone with real leather just for the sturdiness and thickness of it. the faux leather was kind of a problem. the first time i tried putting snaps onto the belt for fasteners they ripped right thru the fabric. so yes, I also made the belt twice! This time i used snap fabric strips that I sewed onto the faux leather as the fasteners and those seem to be working beautifully. the plates on the belt: I cut them out of aluminum sheeting; filed down each one; and punched a hole in the middle. I then attached those to the belts with an eyelit brad (or whatever you call those things) using a resin button that I had made as a washer. They still were rotating and spinning so I did add some glue (e6000) to the backside of the metal plates. I bent the plates to curve around her waste for betting fitting. Finally i finished off the belt by glueing silver button covers over the hole of the plates. Oh, the blaster. I bought one of those cheap toy blasters that are white and orange; spray painted silver first; then spray painted black; sanded some areas for wear and tear so the silver would show thru; and sealed it with a matte coat. I made the blaster strictly for pictures; she will not be leaving the house with it. She loves the costume and might even wear it (if it survives the weekend) when we go to see The Force Awakens in December. Happy Halloween.


Star Wars Paint By Number

Alex and I started some paint by number projects earlier this year. I found her some downloadable beginner print by number pieces. They're super cute and still in progress; I will definitely show those pictures soon. I got myself some advanced versions of the downloadables that go with Alex's sets. I also set out to find some geeky ones for long term projects for myself. I was looking to find some Doctor Who, but I didn't really find any that I liked yet. I might draw my own and print some on canvas paper. I did however find some awesome Star Wars paint by number. I found this old kit (circa 70s i believe) in its original packaging and sealed on eBay cheap. the paints are all dried up so I'm just using them as reference. I've been painting bits on this after Alex and I do a color on our smaller paint projects. I think this one might take me until I'm 90 to finish, but so far i'm loving it.


sugar skull mask

this year i was asked to participate in the sugar skull mask show at work. i was so excited. i believe this was the second year the hispanic resource network group put together this show. they have a limited budget, therefore limited masks; so they ask a select number of artists from different departments around the company. i had a couple of ideas immediately, but went with a more traditional look for the sugar skull. i love sugar skulls by the way. i started by cutting off the jaws of the mask (i forgot to take a picture before i cut them off and put down a base white coat front and back.) i painted my design on the skull next and drilled holes at the forehead for the flowers to be added later. at the same time i started making little red and pink resin cast skulls that i put as the center of the roses (you can't really see them in the final piece because of the rose petals, but i still love how the resin skulls turned out.) next i started gluing on all those tiny little gems over my painted designs. originally i was going to cover the entire white part as well in gems, but i stopped because i liked the look with just the colored gems. and finally i glued the rose headdress into place. the show turned out great - we have some incredibly talented people here at work. happy (early) day of the dead (dia de los muertos.)

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