Friday, July 29, 2011

Feature Friday: The Soap Experiment

I first got interested in soapmaking back in November, when I took a trip with my in-laws and husband to Brevard, NC for a weekend of camping.  At a little sort of head shop in town, I found a bar of lemongrass castile soap that smelled absolutely amazing.  My mother-in-law bought a bar for me and one for herself and when we got home I started washing with it right away.  It was fabulous and creamy and my skin wasn't dry and scaly for once.

So I toyed with the idea of soapmaking for a long time, all the while continuing to buy fantastic bars of soap from fellow Etsians such as Mr. Kitty, Happy Hound and Sacred Suds, all of which were wonderful and different in their own rights.

Finally, a I picked up a few books, ordered the stuff (lye included), and made my first batch. It was a somewhat success.  It came out alright, but the cheap fragrance oil I used nearly seized the batch and the scent has faded (the soapiness part is actually creamy and cleansing and I'm still using the last few bars).  The second batch came out with oily patches and I've put aside to rebatch.

One of the soap molds made by my father-in-law, waiting to be opened.

Then I started reading about sodium lauryl sulfates and the fact that most soaps are actually detergents.  Plus, I couldn't find a shampoo I was happy with as they were all drying out my scalp. So I made my own, adapted from a recipe on the internet, and with rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils.  It came out better than I could have hoped.  As a matter of fact, the first batch only has one bar left.  My husband and father-in-law both love it because they can wash their hair and bodies with one bar.  My mother-in-law loves it because it gives her hair texture and body.  My BFF loves it because it has cleansed her once oily hair and for the first time in her life, she doesn't have to wash it every single day (which is bad for your hair, if you didn't know).

The second batch of shampoo soap.

So I think I've found something to pursue. I am presently tweaking my shampoo recipe and my FIL was kind enough, being a master carpenter, to knock me together a couple of two pound wooden soap molds.
Now the second, twice as big batch (rosemary-lavender scented this time) is waiting to be cut up and set out to cure.

It's interesting how my art has become my work and it looks like my hobby could be headed the same way.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Treasury Thursday: Autumn is Coming....

It may not seem like it, what with the incredible heat waves all over the county.  It's been so steamy out, you feel like you might evaporate walking to the car.

But this is the turning point, folks.  Once the heat breaks, you know as well as I do, it's all downhill from here (or at least down-temperature).  And I, for one, am for it.   I used to love summer, but now I'm starting to look forward to the cooler weather, the smell of leaves and campfire, the feel of being snuggled into a hoodie, the first cool fall winds on my face.  And here is my treasury in honor of all of it.

'Autumn is Coming, Colored Amber and Rust' by cursiveart

Oranges and goldeny browns for fall!

Orange Temple and Flags...

Dandelion Photograph - ...

Eco Friendly - Handmade...

On SALE Hazel Atlas Rus...

The Perfect Mug / Wheel...

Sz 7.5 Vintage Wacky Or...

NEW for Fall- Full Bloo...

Grand Canyon Stubby Bic...

Fly away with me ... wh...


Orange and Green Archit...

Armadillo Art Print wi...

Zaida--hand dyed lace w...

Tiny Harvest Leaf Earri...

CIJ BOGO SALE: I made y...

vintage 1990 Coppertone...

Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stuff I Love: Repurposed Books

I love books and read often.  But some books are just too boring to keep or aren't the stories you hoped they'd be or are simply too old too and falling apart to be of much use.  These Etsy sellers have taken book that weren't good for much else and made them into art.

This book purse from Bibliobags could hold your keys, cell, wallet and perhaps even a small paperback!
A folded sculpture from RecycledReads is a great reminder to be crafty and wonderful inspiration as to what to do with an old book.
Bringing new meaning to the term 'bookmobile' this one from  TheShophouse is just too cool to hang over a babies crib.  Put it in your workspace and watch it drift lazily in the light.
Can't decide if you want to read the massive tome, "War and Peace"?  Have a drink instead.  Then, hide it in this book safe from SecretSafeBooks.
And there is even more awesome stuff.  I'm going to have to do a two-parter and continue this another week.  One could probably decorate an entire house in things made from old books....and if I had the money, I just might.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Less Talk Tuesday: Bookshelves


Note: I know it's "Less Talk" but I wanted to inform my lovely readers that I'm moving things around a bit.  Less Talk More Rock Wednesday's are now Less Talk Tuesdays.  Treasuries will now be on Thursday an on Friday I will try to write something of worth, feature a tutorial, etc.  Saturday's will still be the intended time to put up the Illustration Friday sketches. Thanks for reading, even as this blog gets through it's growing pains!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Spotlight on Holly Bowers of EvilTwinPixies

I also came across Holly in the Regretsy forums new listing thread, and was blown away by this amazing embroidered hot air balloon necklace she'd stitched.  The twenty-five year old, originally from Lancashire England and now living in Massachusetts, moved here to be with a guy (which worked out for her--they've been married five years, next month).  Currently studying at university, she picked up the  fiber art of embroidery to fill time between classes. I'd said it's worked out for her and her amazing work.

Tell us three other things about yourself.
-I’m a history major and an English minor
-I was eighteen when I moved to the US—and terrified of flying!
-I never thought I’d be any good with a needle—before February I’d barely even done any basic clothing repairs.

You embroider, which isn't exactly an common hobby for someone our age.  How did you get into it?  I wanted to get into some kind of fiber art, and I started out with knitting on the recommendation of a school counselor who said that it had helped other students with ADHD to concentrate in class. Knowing that keeping my hands busy helps, I picked up the supplies and had a go. I have a strange mental block when it comes to translating a printed pattern into a real-world object, though—I can’t read maps, and I can’t follow a knitting pattern. I also wanted the opportunity to be more spontaneous and complete projects in a short timeframe. Around February, someone suggested embroidery, and it turned out to be a really good match for me.

For something you've only done for six months, you have an obvious talent.  What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?
So far, my favorite thing is a satin-stitched lovebird pendant. I would definitely make him chubbier if I was to do it again, but I like the stitching and the bright colors. It’s a step up in complexity from things I’ve made before, and on a cute tiny scale.
You seem to have a lot of aerial items, from lovebirds to balloons.  From where do you take inspiration?
From everything I see! I’m still relatively new to embroidery and very excited by the possibilities, so my problem is keeping inspiration down to a level where I can actually make all of the ideas that I have. I tend to have them just as I’m drifting off to sleep, or I’ll be talking to someone and suddenly it sparks off a thought that I just HAVE to run and write down… and then I’m kicking myself for adding another thing to an already too-long list!

You've made everything from snowflakes to constellations to the hot air balloon. Name one piece of someone else's art you wish you'd been the creator of.
Kim Ulrick’s embroideries of children’s drawings. The idea itself is true genius—really one of those “I wish I’d thought of that” moments, and her interpretations of the artwork are beautiful and so much fun. (See one of Kim's embroideries here )

You've gotten a lot done for only doing this for six months.  What are you doing when you’re not crafting?  Sleeping, usually! I tend to take my embroidery with me wherever I go, because it’s good for me to have something to do. If I don’t have a needle in my hand and I’m awake, I’m probably playing with my dogs or walking in the forest with them and my husband.

If you had to give up your medium and pursue another, what would it be and why?
Probably baking. I love making beautiful cakes, especially cupcakes. It fulfills the same crafty drive AND it tastes good. I’d love to own a cupcake shop and sell the most gorgeous cakes around.

Ace of Hearts Embroidered Pendant

Tell us about a time you were making something that came out better than expected and how it happened.
My hot air balloon pendant. My brother’s girlfriend gave me the idea when I asked her what she wanted me to make for her. I knew it was going to be interesting as soon as she said it, but when I actually made it I was so proud of myself. It looked fantastic, and it got a LOT of attention in the short time it was listed before someone bought it. I want to make more in different colors and on different fabrics, but I have so many other ideas to try out as well.

Who is one person living or dead, famous or not, who you wish owned one of your creations and why?
I’d love it if my Grandma could see the things I make—well, not the things with swearing in them. The nice things. She was very traditional and would have really appreciated me being into embroidery.

Embroidery is something that was often popular with an older generation.  How would you explain how to do what you do to an eight year old so that it might interest them?
I take a piece of fabric and I draw pictures on it using a needle and thread instead of pens and pencils. I like to make them colorful!

Everyone has one part of the process the love, one moment or step that is better than the rest.  What's yours?  Those last few stitches. Unless it’s a repeat of something I’ve already done—which is rare for me—I always start a project not knowing whether or not it’s going to work out. I love that moment when I can see exactly how it’s going to look and can enjoy the last little pieces of floss falling into place before I have to go and take photographs and all the rest of the stuff that comes afterwards. I also take a real delight in packaging orders. I’m always trying to figure out new little ways to make it look pretty, from finding the perfect way to fold the tissue paper to making my own stickers to decorate bags and boxes. It’s a true pleasure to look at something you made nestled in decorative packaging and think of the person at the other end opening it up like a little gift. It’s still amazing and exciting to me that people want to wear things that I made, or decorate their homes with them.

Snowflake Embroidered Pendant

One random thing you think people should know.
About anything? I think they should know the story of Alcibiades from ancient Greece. I could do a stand-up routine about that guy, I swear. His life was just one big “and THEN guess what happened” after another.

Your shop address/facebook/Twitter/blog/website. Etc.
Here's my shop address:
And I'm Eviltwinpixie on Twitter, too--though I haven't used it in a while.
And because I always have to ask one weird random questions. What did you want to be when you were ten?
 An archaeologist. I went through many different “I’m going to be-s” since then, but I’ve come back around to wishing and dreaming about digging up ancient treasures and spending my days in old libraries reading crackling documents. Perhaps someday I’ll end up doing some kind of historical research, but right now I have no idea!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Illustration Friday: Perennial

I know I skipped a few weeks, but I actually got my Illustration Friday drawing done Friday night, so here it is.  The theme this week is perennial, so I went with lilies of the valley, which are...well, perennials.  I like taking things literally.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stuff I Love: Maps

I love maps, and am sorry to see they're slowly going the way of the GPS.  I remember, on road trips as a kid, I would always be the one to navigate my my mom, sitting in the backseat, tracing my finger over the curving lines in some Rand McNally atlas that was nearly as large as I was.  At least old maps are finding good reuse these days.

Map Heart Sticker Seals from InkWhimsy
Eire Ireland County Map by SummitRidge
United States Circa 1492 by Nickagin