Thursday, December 29, 2011

TV Money Notebooks

When I was a kid, my parents tried to get my brother and me to read more and watch television less. I was probably around seven or eight years old when they instituted “TV Money” (where my brother and I had to pay to watch television). TV Money came in thirty and sixty-minute increments, and my dad designed them using family stuffed animals instead of American presidents for the faces on the “money” bills.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Bear by Any Other Name

In Anne of Green Gables, Anne says: “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” And she’s right on an emotional level. Names help give us identities; hearing that a ten-year-old girl’s name is Brittany or Barbara or Banana all give me different mental pictures (whether true or not), assumptions are made. I think that’s probably why naming anything seems like a daunting task to me, because it feels like giving different names will help create different identities.

I recall having this naming quandary when I was about seven or eight years old and I got a big gray stuffed bear as a birthday present. The inevitable question everyone asked was, “What’s its name?” And I replied, “I don’t know. I have to think about it.” I didn’t want to name my bear anything that was too obvious, like Smokey. I struggled in naming my bear because I wanted it to be special and fitting. So until I could figure out what her name was going to be, I gave her a temporary name: Bear-Bear. It wasn’t creative at all, but I thought I could come up with a better name eventually. [Pause.] It was a temporary name that quickly became permanent.

On a following birthday, I got a big stuffed panda as a birthday present. Instead of thinking of a unique name, I instantly named her Pan-Pan (short for Panda-Panda). I had already set the precedent in naming stuffed animals for exactly what they were, and I was too lazy to figure out anything better. And my brother followed this naming convention when I gave him a small stuffed zebra as a present, naming him Zeb-Zeb (short for Zebra-Zebra).

Perhaps it seems silly to worry about giving a stuffed animal an interesting name (as it’s just a stuffed animal), but really it’s a reflection of the fact that names matter. Names stick with you and it becomes a part of who you are, just as I never could change Bear-Bear’s name to anything else because she was Bear-Bear.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tasty Money Robot Card

Sometimes when I give presents I don’t bother giving a card. It’s lazy but if it’s a present given in person, then it’s pretty obvious that I’m giving that person that present. It seems redundant to give a card, because usually cards are fairly generic and people will barely read them before they quickly move onto the main event: the present.

However, when a present is not thoughtful then I feel like I have to make up for it with a more personal or interesting card. A prime example is when I give money (or gift cards), a card seems more necessary not only as a vehicle to hold the money but also to show that I put a bit of thought into the present (instead of just opening my wallet and handing over some money).

So I decided to make a very simple card to hold money. The entire card is a robot head and it has two slits in the mouth to hold the money in place. (He just loves the taste of money and his eyes match its leafy green color when he’s eating his most beloved treat). The design is quite minimal using very basic shapes. It’s a silly card but it makes me smile.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What’s Your Favorite Dish on the Menu?

Whenever we go to eat somewhere, the inevitable question one of my friend’s will ask the cashier/waiter/owner of an eatery is “What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” (or the question is varied to: “What’s the most popular item?” or “What do you recommend?”). Almost without fail, she will ask and will almost always take the suggestion given.

I’m the opposite and never ask. To say that I don’t care what other people suggest sounds rather harsh, but it’s kind of true. They are free to give their suggestions but whether I take them or not is another matter. The most popular item on the menu might not appeal to me (and sometimes I wonder if something is popular because it’s actually good or popular merely because it’s popular).

While my friend seems to enjoy taking recommendations (as she might eat something she might not otherwise try), I would rather follow my gut. I can make my own eating decisions; I know my stomach better than a stranger, whose likes and dislikes might be vastly different than my own. Besides, usually I’m in the mood for something, whether light or heavy, sweet or savory, spicy or mild (or I might be craving a specific item altogether). I’d rather choose something for myself and take my chances (and only have myself to blame if it doesn’t work out).

Keeping my friend’s tendency for food advice in mind, I couldn’t help but add this “What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” as the first page of her Knock on Wood notebook. It was a quick little design, and while “What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” doesn’t match the aesthetic of the Knock on Wood notebook, its purpose is merely for amusement and nothing more. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Only Bitchy in My Brain

It’s so easy to have mean little thoughts. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with, sometimes petty, snide and malicious thoughts just seem to creep into your mind. Having thoughts like, “His laugh sounds like a dying elephant” or “Her outfit makes her look like a banana on steroids” is inevitable because it stems from your personal feelings and opinions of what is and is not appropriate (and some of us are more particular than others).

However, having thoughts and speaking them are two different things. Nice people are those that think before speaking. They give themselves a mental moment to consider their words so they can refrain from saying anything terribly rude (whether intentional or not). Because if you say every thought that pops into your head it’s probably not going to go over well with others (and you may very well end up friendless).

What brought this all to mind was when my friend was recounting a conversation she had with someone where her thought was, “Well, obviously you’ve never had plastic surgery.” She of course didn’t say this to the person, but merely thought it (because she’s a nice person and realized that it was the wrong thing to say).

So I told her, “I see. You’re only bitchy in your brain.” She found that amusing, so I decided to have “Only Bitchy in My Brain” on the first page of her Knock on Wood notebook. “Only Bitchy in My Brain” doesn’t really match the aesthetic of the Knock on Wood notebook (as it was just a quick little design where I channeled the 1980’s), but its purpose was just to make her smile and nothing more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Knock on Wood Notebook

I’d been eying this “wood” paper at the paper store for some time now. I’d pick it up, lustfully look at it and then reluctantly put it down because although I wanted it, I didn’t have a plan for it. The problem with the paper is that it’s not terribly versatile; it’s dark, heavy and textured—not good for printing. But it was pretty. And I like pretty things. So I finally decided on using this specialized paper in a project that would utilize its “wood” properties, and what came to mind was the idiom “Knock on Wood.” [I know. (Sigh.) I’m slightly addicted to using idioms in my designs.]

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY: Glitter Picture Frame Christmas Ornament

This is a Christmas ornament that has some movement to it as the center square can turn back and forth. It’s a nice ornament to create if you want a personalized ornament (as you can use whatever photos or pictures you want on the center square).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DIY: Paper Ball Christmas Ornament

The Christmas trees I had growing up never looked like the Christmas trees you see on TV that are perfectly decorated with their color coordination and shiny metallic ball ornaments. No, our Christmas trees were decorated with a mish-mash of ornaments that were both store bought and handmade—it made for a unique tree.

To create a simple Christmas ornament, I decided to use folded paper circles (not unlike what I did for my Lantern Tag). I think it’s a nice ornament to make if you don’t have quite enough ornaments for your tree (and don’t want to buy more) or if you want a disposable ornament.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

DIY: Paper Towel Round Stand

I thought I could use a paper towel roll to create a simple (and disposable) stand. With just a few cuts, it takes minimal time to make and perfect for holding a photo, postcard or a place card holder for a dinner party.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vintage Matchbooks

I don’t think it’s my imagination that matchbooks aren’t as prolific as they used to be. Smoking is banned from most establishments, so the need for matchbooks isn’t what it once was. While I’ve never really used matchbooks much, I do think the idea of them is pretty genius: portable fire…with advertising.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I’d Rather Hibernate Instead

Today is Black Friday (indeed, it is a dark dark day). The shopping frenzy has officially started, and although there were “pre-Black Friday” sales, today is when everything starts to really get into “holiday” mode. Everywhere you turn, you’re bombarded with sales galore.

I find it unbelievable that people go through the hassle that is Black Friday, but I guess they enjoy the hustle and bustle of finding expected (and unexpected) items at bargain prices. I have a friend who goes shopping every year with her mom; they wake up hours before dawn on Friday and drive to their destination and wait outside for the stores to open and then shop for hours. While to me that sounds rather torturous, it’s an annual tradition that they seem to enjoy.

I did try to shop at a store one Black Friday (hours after the store had opened), and I quickly realized that this was not a place I wanted to be. I wasn’t in the store for more than a few minutes before I couldn’t stand it any longer and left empty-handed. There were just too many people in too small of a space who were tired and grab-happy, and then there were the lines that were long enough to make Disneyland proud. [Pause.] Good times.

No, I’d rather hibernate at home on this busiest of shopping days. I’ve learned my lesson and I choose to stay inside and relax instead of dealing with the stress of shopping. [Pause.] Besides, if I feel the urge to spend, I can just order it online. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Recently I went to a vintage store with friends and spent hours there (and it wasn’t hard to do). It wasn’t a cute little boutique of a vintage shop; no, it was a big old house with room after room that was filled with stuff in a haphazard way (akin to how you might find a cluttered garage). There were some attempts to organize things, but the shear volume of items made it a losing battle.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Big Lie is Better than a Small Lie

Thanksgiving is next Thursday and I’m looking forward to some gut-busting food. (Mmm, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie—yum.) And while the food is tasty, Thanksgiving is also about being with family; I’ll see relatives that I don’t otherwise see during the course of the year. And there is one cousin in particular that never ceases to amaze me every time I see her.

While this cousin is older than me, she often times seems much younger (like the fact that she’s more interested in the High School Musical movies and Justin Bieber than her pre-tween daughter). And that somehow she convinced my great-aunt (probably through shear force of will) to read Twilight. She’s just very enthusiastic about pop culture that appeals to youths (to the point that sometimes I wonder if she had a Freaky Friday moment with her daughter and switched bodies). I find her obsession with youth culture pretty amusing (as I am at a lost at times to what she finds so fascinating).

It’s her thought process that astounds me the most because it seems so foreign to me; often enough we’ll be talking about a normal topic and then she’ll just state something that will take me aback. She of course thinks what she just said is perfectly normal and I’ll be sitting there with my jaw dropped in disbelief. In one conversation she was trying to convince me that a big lie was better than a small lie because then you know it’s a lie. And that’s just one example (out of the many) of conversations with her that makes me go “What?” [Shake my head in disagreement.] “No, I don’t think so. I don’t understand how you got from A to B. Your logic is not like my logic.”

It’s always entertaining to hear my cousin speak because she says so many unexpected things, and I’m hoping this coming Thanksgiving will be no different. (Please amaze and astound me…)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DIY: Paper Fan Flower

When I was a kid, I would use an accordion fold on a piece of paper to create a “fan” (as if that could help to cool me down against a hot summer day). But I thought I could use this simple fold to create a “flower” that could be used as packaging decoration.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Back Burner

Time has been creeping up on me. I feel like I blinked in the middle of summer and suddenly it was November. Projects I meant to work on got put on the back burner as I worked on other things (like knitting and sewing). I thought I had more time, but time has a funny way of catching up with you.

And now with December around the corner I need to get back to my neglected projects (as the plan was create more designed items as Christmas presents). I’ve sort of known the gist of what I wanted to do for months; it was just being motivated enough to actually get started. And now with Christmas looming, I feel motivated (inevitable deadlines do that for me).

I have about month to design and put together things, which I think is pretty doable. Once I get some momentum, I think things will come together fairly smoothly (at least I hope so). So back burner projects you’ve now been relegated to the front burner. [Pause]. Congratulations, you now have my full attention.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Knitting Needle Case

Since the knitting needle set that I recently purchased did not come with a case, I needed to make one. (I suppose I could have stuck them in a mug and called it a day, but I wanted to be a bit more organized.) I had left over khaki material and some bias tape and thought that I could use them to create my case.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You’re Cute, but I have Cheap Fabrics Waiting at Home for Me

Recently I went to a cute little fabric shop and looked lustfully at the different fabrics there; most of the fabrics were very modern in design and color, which I liked a lot, but the prices were more than I wanted to spend (most being about $10/yard or more). I was good and I restrained myself from getting anything (other than one fat quarter). If I was talented and could expertly utilize my sewing machine, then I would be less apprehensive about buying nicer more expensive fabrics. However I am not, thus I just have to say “no” until I’m confident that I sew well and not waste any fabric.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simple Shrug

I wanted my first non-scarf knitting project to be fairly simple and selected an easy pattern for a shrug from Mother-Daughter Knits: 30 Designs to Flatter & Fit by Sally Melville and Caddy Melville Ledbetter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Knit Mode

Last year when I impulsively bought a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn, I wasn’t sure if I would like knitting. While I was curious about knitting, I had never done it before so I didn’t know if it was a hobby that would last. I didn’t want to invest a lot of money on supplies that I wasn’t sure I would ever use, so I wanted to start out slow. Thus, every time I needed a different pair of needles to match the thickness of the yarn I had, I would buy my needles individually (which is fine in the short term, but not so great in the long term).

I finally decided that I just needed to get a set of knitting needles because it would be cheaper overall and would give me more sizes to work with. Working with just a couple of needle sizes is very limiting; I like to look over knitting books and find cute projects that I want to try, but as I didn’t have many of the needles sizes it sort of put a damper on things. Now that I have a knitting needle set, I feel more motivated to try different projects and use different types of yarn.

The individual needles I had been using were aluminum but my new set of knitting needles are wood, and I have to say I think I prefer the wood. It’s really not surprising since I love wood items in general, so naturally I would like the look and feel of my new wooden needles; they feel light and have a warmth and softness about them that I appreciate. My new set has needles from sizes 0-15; I’m not sure that I’ll use all of the sizes, but it’s nice to have them just in case I need them.

Lately I’ve been in knit mode, mostly doing so in the evenings when I can half-watch semi-interesting television shows, and I’ve broken in one pair of new wooden needles working on my first non-scarf project. It’s time consuming for me to knit anything, but one of the things I appreciate about knitting is that you can knit for an extended period of time or just for a few minutes—every row counts. And it’s pretty satisfying to see the knitted piece you’re working on get longer and longer as you get closer to finishing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Twisted and Dropped

I decided that it was time for me to try other stitches in knitting (besides the basic knit and purl stitches) because eventually I’d like to do more complicated knitting. I had most of a skein left of some purple yarn and thought that I could use it for a scarf using stitches I haven’t used before. Looking in a knitting book, I thought I’d try a purse stitch that used a yarn over and purl two together repeatedly that seemed easy enough. I found some videos online and tried the two different stitches and they didn’t seem too difficult.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cute Animal Wares

Every so often I’m a sucker for cute animal things. (I mean who doesn’t love an adorable little dog or cat?) While sometimes I would receive cute animal items as gifts, I admit that more often than not, it was me doing the purchasing; I would buy containers, toys and stationary merely because they were cute (and thus irresistible). Yet as the years pass, I’m less inclined to buy these cute animal items (as I do not have the room or need for them), but here are some cute animal wares I've accumulated over time:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vintage Advert Notebook

I finally broke down and bought a binding machine. I’d been eyeing one online for quite sometime and when it happened to be on sale at a local store—I gave in. I’d resisted the urge to get one for a while because I didn’t need one but as with most crafty items I wanted it. [Sigh.] I really just tried to avoid the inevitable…and that never really works.

Since my mom’s birthday was just around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to test my new binding machine by making a notebook. My mom enjoys classic Hollywood films from the “Golden Age” of cinema when screwball comedies and musicals reigned supreme, so I wanted to reflect that time period in the notebook I made for her. I had purchased a stamp that had various newspaper ads from that 1940’s and thought that I could use it to create a cute cover.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DIY: Braided Yarn and Duct Tape Bracelet

Using the same yarn and duct tape I used in my Yarn and Duct Tape Necklace, I decided to create a braided bracelet; I thought multiple braids would create a nice texture.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DIY: Yarn and Duct Tape Necklace

As I roamed the yarn section of a craft store, I decided I wanted to make a necklace out of a fine yarn. I decided against a flat color in favor of a gray and white yarn; I thought the color shifts in the yarn would work well in jewelry.

The main problem I had in creating jewelry with yarn is what to do with the yarn ends, and my solution was using duct tape to keep the yarn ends from looking ragged. Since duct tape comes in an array of colors, I selected a black duct tape to match my yarn.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My $3 Red Scarf

It’s that time of year when the clouds roll in and rain falls down and you want something cozy wrapped around you—like a scarf. I do love scarves, and I wanted one that was a bright pop of color (and was desperately in need of a nice red one). Last year I bought red yarn on sale for about a dollar a skein (which then sat in a drawer waiting to be used). With the shift in weather, I finally got motivated to use this yarn for a new scarf.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Japanese Vending Machines

I bought this candy vending machine toy on a whim while at a department store in Japan. It’s silly and utterly unnecessary, but at the time it amused me. When the card is popped into the vending machine slot, lights go on and sound comes out and then the candy comes out (or at least it did when the toy was new and the battery was fresh). I like the fake little brands for the drinks (some of which are obviously based upon real brands). I just think it’s funny that a vending machine would be made into a toy (I mean really, vending machines aren’t exactly the most exciting thing out there). But it is a Japanese vending machine, which is better than an American one…at least I think so.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

DIY: Painted Shopping Bag

Sometimes I keep shopping bags not because they’re particularly cute but because they could be useful. I thought I could use paint to alter a bag’s appearance to make it a bit more visually interesting (as well as cover up any unwanted design elements).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DIY: Toilet Paper Roll Flower

Toilet paper rolls are disposable items we all have. I was looking at one and thought that its shape could lend itself well to a flower. I like the symmetry of something with the word “toilet” in its name coming up roses (figuratively speaking).

DIY: Brown Paper Bag Wrapping Paper

I love kraft paper, and while I could have bought a roll of it to use, I decided on using a brown paper bag from the grocery store instead (since it was something I already had) for wrapping paper.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lip Service Coupon

Lip service is what makes the world go ’round. We are all participants, with coworkers, classmates, friends, family, strangers; we all tell those little white lies that help to make social interactions go more smoothly. We generally know when we’re getting or giving lip service, but that doesn’t stop its persistence.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Little Red Skirt

Last month I was walking in town wearing the navy skirt I’d made, and a woman passing by complimented me on my “cute skirt”. I thanked her and in that moment I think my head grew three sizes (but luckily I kept my wits about me and refrained from regaling her with tales of how I’d sewn it myself). While it’s always nice receiving a compliment, it was doubly so getting one from a complete stranger on something that I had created. There’s a certain thrill in having sewn something that is uniquely yours, and while what I sew is hardly perfect, it’s still mine. I decided on what pattern to use and I decided what fabric would be appropriate and I was the one who sewed it (for better or for worse).

Friday, September 16, 2011

DIY: Key Chain Pendant Necklace

I’ve mentioned that I went through a phase of getting Japanese key chains as souvenirs (that I inevitably never used). I don’t have much of a desire to use a key chain as an actual key chain because it adds unwanted weight and bulk, but I thought I could reuse a key chain by turning it into a necklace pendant.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Japanese Key Chains

While in Japan, I went through a phase of getting key chains as souvenirs. It was an easy souvenir to get since they're small, sturdy and there was usually a wide variety to choose from. I would get one (or more) at any place I was visiting. I never really thought too deeply about what I would do with them in the future, I just wanted something tangible from the place I was visiting. Basically it was a souvenir for souvenir's sake, as I never actually used any of these key chains. [Sigh.] But some them are interesting to look at:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So Sick of Summer

A couple of months ago I semi-complained about the lackluster summer we’d been having in Oregon with the seemingly never-ending cloudy and cool days. This past week made me regret those words as temperatures were consistently in the mid-nineties and I was absolutely miserable. People who say they love hot weather are people with air-conditioning—and I’m not one of them.

It was a difficult week because of the heat, and it forced me to become both extra busy and extra lazy. The mornings and early afternoons were bearable enough, so I fell into a rhythm of trying to get everything done by 3pm (which wasn’t always possible, but I tried). The evenings were very unpleasant as the heat accumulated indoors leaving me feeling hot and tired and irritable.

Thus evenings became chunks of unproductive time. I lost all motivation to do anything; it was just too much effort to think, let alone move. All I wanted to do was stretch out like a cat in front of the television and eat ice cream (which I did, but it hardly helped me feel much better). I pretty much came to the conclusion that I was sick of summer. I was tired of having a bowl of cereal for dinner because it was too hot to cook. And I was tired of the heat disturbing my sleep. And most of all I was tired of hours being wasted because I was too hot to do anything.

So I’m hoping that the height of summer has finally passed. Yesterday the temperature finally went down a good ten degrees and I look forward to a much cooler week. With more temperate weather brings a more temperate (and more motivated) me, and I’m hoping that I can finally get stuff done. So bring on the clouds…I’ve missed you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Idiom Calendar

Sometime in April I decided to create an idiom calendar for my “Make Something Present” for this year. I am particularly partial to wordplay and I love idioms. There are idioms for practically every situation and I find some quite amusing. Idioms paint visual pictures with just a few words and I wanted to portray that in my idiom calendar.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DIY: Knotted Yarn Tassel Bracelet

I had extra yarn and thought I could use it in a simple bracelet that revolves around knotting. It’s not very difficult to make, and I think it creates a nice texture and pop of color.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Animals Gone 7 Deadly Sins Calendar

Spring 2010. Although it was early, I thought that I should get started on my “Make Something Present”. I like making calendars, so I wanted to make another and came up with the format first. I wanted to create something with layers, so I decided on using different sized sheets that would go from the smallest size in the front to the largest size in the back.

Once I figured out how the calendar would be put together, I thought about what the calendar should be about. Suddenly it came to me: 7 Deadly Sins. With seven sins, I could divide the months up to two a sheet plus a cover sheet. But I didn’t want it to be a straight up “sins” calendar; I wanted to do something that would amuse me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Retro Fake Ad Mini-Notebooks

Last year, I created mini-notebooks based upon my Retro Fake Ad Calendar. So in addition to the six fake ads I already had: Mad Cow Burgers, The Rabid Robots from Outer Space!, Princess Purge Dishwashing Detergent, Apollo Cigarettes, Candi Doll and Tasty Sucker, I created two new fake products: Spiked Punch and Mocha Mayhem Cereal.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Retro Fake Ad Calendar

Fall 2009. My two designer friends and I decided to continue our one-year tradition of “Make Something Present.” This year, it was going to actually be “make something” (rather than the previous year of everyone specifically making calendars). But I decided to make a calendar anyway because it’s one of those useful things to make and giveaway. This year I wanted to make something more amusing (because I like to amuse myself).

While watching Mad Men, I got inspired by their fake ads and wanted to make my own. So I thought of not only plausible products from that time period, but also how I could incorporate some humor into it (since I love a bit of cheekiness). I took into consideration what housewives, teenagers and kids might buy and narrowed things down to six products:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chinese Zodiac Calendar

Back in the fall of 2008, “Make Something Present” came into being. Two designer friends and I bought 100 jewel cases to be split between us. That year we were all going to make calendars as Christmas presents (and of course give them to each other as well).

So I had to figure out what the topic for my calendar would be, and only one idea popped into my head: Chinese Zodiac. I not only thought it could be a fun theme to work with, but with twelve animals, each month could easily correspond to an animal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DIY: Button Ribbon Pin

I had some inexpensive ribbon and some cute buttons and thought I could use them together to create a pin. This pin could be used as a bow for packaging (instead of those plastic-like ones). They’re not too difficult to make and reusable.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Check-the-Box Card

Birthday. Anniversary. Valentine’s Day. The year is full of events (granted some are more important than others) but forget one of them and suddenly that’s the most important event. Because isn’t it the thought that counts? People want to be remembered. They want to feel special. Forgetting someone’s “momentous day” (whatever that day may be) is a slight on them, because basically, you just weren’t thinking of them at all.

So I made this all-purpose card so I can just check off whatever holiday/event I want it to be used for (so for those lazy/forgetful moments, I can at least pretend to have remembered that special day).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I’m a Tweaker

Unavoidable in designing is tweaking. The devil is in the details, so you move an image over a smidge, change a word here or switch colors there. It’s an ongoing process of trying to get every element to work together to create a layout that satisfies you. Yet any satisfaction you have is often short-lived, because you see the flaws. This may sound overly negative, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Being critical allows you to question what you’re doing and can help push you in a direction to fix any problems you see. So you tweak to fix those flaws, and even after tweaking, you want to tweak again. It’s almost compulsive, and sometimes you just have to let it go and tell yourself, “I’m done.”

However, I just can’t seem to help myself. Even when I’m done with a personal design project I’m not really done. If I take another look at something I’ve created, I inevitably find something that I want to tweak. I’ll find discontentment with the color, font, image or the layout and want to fix it. Many times it isn’t anything dire that I want to change, it’s just that I think things could be improved.

It’s somewhat frustrating to be dissatisfied with a “finished” project (because usually by the time you’re done with a project, you’re sick of looking at it and never really want to set eyes upon it again). Yet given time and fresh eyes discontentment generally comes, and how can it not? Over time our ideas and perceptions and experiences change us, so what was once fine may not be so fine any longer. So perhaps it’s not so bad to be discontent because it shows that you’ve changed (and hopefully grown) as a designer…at least that’s what I like to tell myself.

Friday, August 12, 2011

DIY: Rubber Band Bracelet

I like using items I see and use every day in different ways. I had quite a few rubber bands and thought they could be tied together to make a quick and easy bracelet.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

DIY: Tassel Embroidery Floss Earrings

Embroidery floss comes in a bunch of colors and isn’t terribly expensive (usually under 40 cents for a regular color, more for metallic). I had some embroidery floss and thought I could use it in creating earrings for a simple burst of color.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pleated Change Purse

My old change purse was dying a slow and painful death. I had used it for many years and filled it to the brim with change; it was fraying and filthy and far from its once cute state. So instead of purchasing a new one, I thought I’d create one with some of my fabric scraps.

I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do: a small purse with a zipper closure. Simple enough. I didn’t really follow any directions because what I needed to do was fairly straightforward. I selected a sturdier cotton fabric for my change purse (left over fabric from my navy skirt). Instead of doing the bare minimum of using two flat pieces of fabric to create my change purse, I decided to use inverted pleats as a design element. It wasn’t that much more difficult; I just had to use a bit more fabric for the width, measure where my pleats would be, press the pleats down and then baste the pleats in place. It’s simple but I think it adds some nice visual interest.

The second thing I did to make this change purse a bit more interesting was using a contrasting zipper color. I happen to have this cream-colored zipper and thought it would match well with navy. It was my first time shortening a zipper (which turned out to be super easy). As usual I made mistakes along the way, but it was a good small (and necessary) sewing project for me. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DIY: Glitter Pin

Glitter is not to be ignored—it screams, “Look at me! I’m here!” As a child I had a great appreciation for glitter, but with time tastes change, and now I prefer matte to shine. Yet there are times you might want the bright sparkle of glitter to bring a sense of fun. Glitter is celebratory in nature, so I thought a glitter pin could be a nice accent in wrapping a present.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Doable Retro Dress

My resistance is low when fabric and supplies are on sale. I admit, it’s my own fault; not entering a store would be the correct step in avoiding getting more stuff. Sadly, I choose over and over again to go into a store to “just take a look” and inevitably find something I want.

I like to rationalize and think that as long as it’s not full price, I’m getting a good deal. This time it was a 1950’s retro dress pattern that was on sale. I do like vintage style items and the pattern had a sewing rating of “very easy” (which I thought was doable with my limited sewing skills). The pattern required quite a bit of fabric (which despite my growing collection of fabric, I didn’t have the required yardage at home) so I decided to get some cheap fabric.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Shot Glass of Convenience

When I was a kid, I thought shot glasses were just small cute glasses (like those found in a make-believe tea party; I was too young to know that they were actually for adults taking shots of liquor.) If my parents went out of town for some reason, they would often bring me back a shot glass as a souvenir. Maybe that seems like a strange souvenir for a child, but really it was probably a souvenir of convenience (and certainly not any sort of promotion of underage drinking).

Shot glasses are super easy souvenirs since they can be found at many airport gift shops, they’re fairly inexpensive and there’s a variety to choose from. A good shot glass design should reflect the specialness of the place, whether it’s a particular monument or attraction, symbol, color, idea—just something that shows its personality and how it’s different from other places. It can be a challenge to find an attractive shot glass (since most fall into the bland or ugly category), but a few of my cuter shot glasses are in the photo above.

It’s been years since I got a new shot glass because I just don’t have the need (or the space) for more unnecessary stuff. I admit that if I’m waiting in an airport I might peruse a gift shop and see what they have to offer, but I practically never buy anything. After a while you have less of a desire to collect “evidence” that you went some place (because isn’t a good photo and the memory enough?). Souvenir knickknacks are inevitably items that you’ll probably never use (whether it be shot glasses, key chains, postcards, etc.) and will just inconveniently take up space…even the cute ones.