Shibori Experiments

shibori canvasI can’t get enough of the shibori projects I see all over Pinterest (my Shibori board) and Instagram. This last weekend, I finally tried my hand at it and wow is it more difficult than it looks. I do love the results though.

Because I want to make handbags, most of the items I dipped in indigo were canvas. I only recommend doing shibori on canvas if you pre-cut your pieces to smaller sizes. The inner folds of my canvas didn’t see any dye at all because I tried dunking pieces that were far too big. Even the thinner fabric was difficult to penetrate with the dye. Read more

DIY Colorado Beetle Kill Coffee Table

We were at Home Depot one weekend over a year ago and I saw a big stack of 1×1 beetle kill sticks from the side. I thought it looked really neat, almost like tie-dyed wood, and had the bright idea that we were going to make a coffee table out of them. Dave probably should have shot down this idea based on how much work it would entail. Luckily, he’s one patient husband and we ended up with an awesome coffee table about a year later.

Beetle Kill Coffee Table

We bought a few sticks, some nicely finished beetle kill for the frame and a piece of plywood. We started slicing the sticks using a saw we borrowed from Dave’s stepdad. Unfortunately, the saw had to go back before we could finish the enormous task of slicing a gazillion quarter inch tiles out of the sticks. Soooo the project was paused for about a year until we finally gave in and bought our own saw. Then Dave resumed the slicing!

Once we had enough wood tiles, I glued them onto the plywood with wood glue. Dave added a nice frame to the side. I painted a few coats of clear finish on top and we attached some blue hairpin legs to finish it off.

Voilà, the coffee table that took a year to build is finally complete!

Beetle Kill Coffee Table

 

Experiments in Watercolors

I got an itch to learn how to watercolor a couple years ago and have been dabbling here and there since then. I started by trying to recreate some patterns I found via Pinterest (mostly flowery ones by Rifle Paper Co.), but I soon needed to find my own watercolor voice. This year I began a series of watercolors based off of photos from my travels. In the process of creating these watercolors, I discovered that I’ve been lying to myself for quite some time. I always said I couldn’t draw, but it turns out I can! I think I’m getting better with every new page in my watercolor Moleskine sketchbook.

Here are a few of my favorite watercolors so far:

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Crafting on the Road: Learning how to make traditional Lao Buddhist temple stencils

Crafting in Laos

In the past few years I’ve been in and out of many, many temples and can’t help but be mesmerized by the stunning artwork covering the inner and outer walls of each and every one. Every temple, even ones that are only one block away from each other, have a different look to them and I’ve taken to photographing the beautiful art at each one I visit. I hope to use my large collection of temple art pictures as inspiration for something one day.

stencil makingI had always wondered how the artwork was made and how long it took, so I was ecstatic to discover Yensabai Book & Art  in Luang Prabang, Laos that offers traditional stencil making classes. For 120,000 Kip (15 USD) we were taught how to properly cut the stencils out of handmade paper with straight and curved chisels on a plank of wood. Over a span of two hours Dave and I hammered away while occasionally sipping on Lao green tea (for me) and Lao coffee (for Dave). It was a very cathartic experience and we not only walked away with a better understanding of how much work goes into decorating a Buddhist Temple, but also two pieces of awesome art.

stencil tools and materials

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cutting my stencil

our finished stencils

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Rice Glue and Paper Lotus Lanterns Tutorial

Korean paper lotus lantern and rice glue

I’m a craft-o-holic. While traveling I am usually only able to craft in my journal, but when I am settled down somewhere I am constantly making stuff. Especially paper things. I love it. There’s something so relaxing and satisfying about making something with your hands.

When we were at the Lotus Lantern Festival a couple weeks ago, we stumbled across a tent where you could make your own paper lotus lantern. I jumped at the opportunity of an impromptu craft session with paper on the sidewalk in Korea. For those of you curious about the significance of the lotus lanterns, here’s an explanation I found on Visit Korea:

According to Buddhist belief, the lighting of a lotus-shaped lantern symbolizes a devotion to performing good deeds and lighting up the dark parts of the world that are filled with agony. The lantern-lighting practice was developed throughout the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties and has been preserved through public demonstrations such as the lotus lantern service (a Buddhist memorial service held nationwide) and the lotus lantern parade.

paper lotus lantern crafts on the streets of SeoulWhile we were making our lanterns, I noticed that the glue we were using was very gelatinous and glutinous. I thought it might be made from rice, and sure enough, it was! This probably doesn’t seem like something to get excited about, but I really like arts and crafts. My friends made fun of me for my serious interest in the glue and for the fact that I asked the lovely man who was helping us how to make it, but I really had to know. Isn’t the idea of an easy to make, non-toxic, and cheap glue for paper crafts awesome!?! All you need is a little left over rice and water. I imagine it would be a fabulous glue to use with kids, there’s always that one kid who wants to know what glue tastes like.

This last weekend I tried my hand at making rice glue and to see how well my own concoction turned out I made a lotus lantern from materials laying around the house. Read more