Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mission Accomplished!

Does anyone know Bush's number? I'd like to get one of those banners…

Anyway, just a quick post 'cus I'm just so excited about my project's result. I finally got to give my mommy her B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L necklace that I've been peeing my pants in excitement to give her. And (drumroll please)… here it is:

 Isn't it lovely? I think it's lovely. It's lovely, huh? I'd bet anyone else would call it lovely. lovely seems like a good way to describe this, no? I think I'll keep this short and sweet and just give a quick description of how this lovely (wouldn't you say it's lovely) necklace came to be.

First I ordered the tiles online from eBay. I was going to steal, I mean borrow, the tiles from the family Scrabble set, but we have a "deluxe" version with ugly maroon tiles (gag me with a spoon, right?) so I just got the ones I needed from the many weirdos on eBay with a strangely endless stash of Scrabble tiles. What, do these guys buy out all of sets from Target and Walmart, take the bags of tiles out, then return the games? Do they go to their friends' houses during parties and steal their tiles? What kind of sick people are these eBay sellers of Scrabble tiles? Anyway, so I took the tile, drilled them where I wanted to hang them from the necklace at, then eyelet-ed them with mixed metal eyelets. For the blank tile I wanted a Heart so it would spell "I Love[heart] YOU MOM,"  but nixed the MOM because it was gonna be way to long. Anyway I cut a stylized heart out of copper, engraved it, then "fire-painted" it until I got the right effect. That whole process is a post in and of itself so if I get bored or someone actually wants to know (i.e. I get actual readers and on top of that those readers give a damn) I'd be happy to explain how I got that beautiful pink and copper heart. I glued that sucker onto the blank with some E6000 (gotta love that shit, it glues everything). and voila, my letter tiles are finite!

Next, the picture frames. I used Shrinky Dink plastic (I know, I know, I can't get away from that stuff. But it's just so perfect for every project!) that you can use in an inkjet printer and found some cherished family photos. I got the color and size correct to make little Scrabble tile-sized charms (this process wasn't easy, either, definitely trial and error and error and error and kind of success and error and error and… oh, sorry, ummm, yeah, let's say after that many errors I'd succeeded. Once I have the 4 pictures I wanted to use between the letter tiles I cut some metal blanks that would fit around the pictures, used my Dremel to remove the metal from the inside of the blanks to create a tiny frame, and filed the edges down so they'd make proper charms for the necklace. Then I engraved little designs on the frames so they really looked like picture frames. I glued the pictures into place behind their respective frames (yes, with E6000 again), but then I wanted something to make them really special. I got a 2 part epoxy resin kit (EnviroTech Jewelry Resin, to be exact; worked perfectly I highly recommend) and "glazed" the pictures where they showed through the frame so that the pictures looked like they were under glass. The effect was awesome; you can't quite see it in the pictures, but the glassy resin made it look like teeny tiny frames with teeny tiny pictures that you'd hang on the wall.

To finish it all off, I hand formed some 16 gauge wire into decorative links and hammered them for an antique-ey look and attached the Scrabble tiles onto the links, added the chain and a clasp and Doo to do do! (ugh, ok that was supposed to be like the bugle playing and little announcement of a success? Right? That's totally what you thought when you read that, right? No? Well, screw you then!) My masterpiece was borne! But seriously, it took weeks and I worked so hard, screwing up everything that could be screwed up, not understanding why some things weren't working or how to fix it and then worrying that whatever I came up with wouldn't be good enough (even though I knew my mom would love anything I made for her), staying up at night not sleeping because I didn't know how to fix my most recent screw-up, but too tired to stay up and experiment with how to do it. If anyone wants details on any specifics, I'd be happy to share, but to go through an entire tutorial on how I got from beginning to end (because the steps I just went though up above are like, 1/100th of what I really did) would take forever and no one actually reads this so it's a lot of work to do for nobody.

In the end, my mom cried. She was so touched and impressed she almost couldn't speak, but kept saying over and over, "This must have taken so much work!" which, of course, it did, but I just wanted her to love it, so it was all worth it in the end, without a doubt. I also made her a kickass card, which I'll snap a few pictures of and share those, too!

So much for short and sweet.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Objective: Make My Mommy Cry

… geez, never thought I'd ever think something like, "this better make mom cry," but I'm working on a mothers' day gift and my goal truly is to make her cry, either tears of joy or sentimentality. This project has kind of taken over my time and sanity, so other projects are being shifted to the back burner, but a quick update of my previous projects:

  • I have managed to almost finish my spoon wreath. It has taken a lot more time and energy than I had anticipated, mostly because, as usual, I've managed to take the most difficult route possible. I chose to use spray paint for the spoons even though everyone else advised to paint them individually after gluing them down, but I thought that would be tedious… how wrong I was. I also decided to add a flower made from melted and manipulated plastic forks, but it's making this project a whole lot more difficult since I have to melt the spoons heads to fit around the flower, but then I have to re-paint them after melting since it messes with the paint and so on and so forth, ugh why do I have to be so damned creative! It's a gift… and a curse. Anyway, I'm on the home stretch with this project and since my mom wants to show off the finished wreath when she has friends over this Friday for cards, I'm on a deadline. Fortunately for me, I work best under pressure and even better under an oncoming deadline so I'm sure it'll be done in time. My mother better thank me for this, I know my lungs will after all the spray painting I've been doing with little ventilation (shhh don't tell my parents)
  • I have also stopped my the Oak Park Women's Exchange shop to drop off my application and assorted pieces for jurying. It wasn't the same place I thought it was (I mistook it for a cute little boutique in the shopping district of Oak Park Avenue) and it's actually, well, to be honest, dumpy. It's full of some really craftsy looking stuff, not to make craftsy a dirty word, but everything looked like grandma's doilies and quilts or kind of, well, amateur looking jewelry. Not that I'm a pro by any means or that crafts aren't worthwhile, but a lot of the jewelry looked like something you'd make with a kit from the kids' section of a craft store or just strung some nice beads on a wire. When I left my pieces with the ladies on duty at the time, they were a bit ditsy or clueless and I just didn't feel like I fit into the style of the place. I wasn't going to say anything, but even my mom thought  was a little too good for the store. I may still go with the plan to join the group just to give it a chance and see how it goes. Even if it's a little disastrous, maybe I can get a whole bunch of supplies with their wholesale discount and leave after a year. But, all one all, I left with my heart in my stomach since it felt like such a let-down, oh well.
  • The rest of those projects are still in various stages of completion, or non-completion if you want to take the pessimistic look at it, which I always do. One of the most difficult parts of trying to sell your art/crafts seems to be the last couple steps, mainly photographing the pieces. First of all I'm terrible at photography and since I'm such a night owl I have few hours of good, natural light in my waking hours. And, of course, I have to lug out all the "staging" supplies like my bulletin board and neutral sheet to photograph everything against. It's all such a pain in the ass so I try to do as many pieces at one time so it means I have a bunch of stuff waiting until I have the motivation, which seldom happens since my Etsy shop (and most endeavors in all things crafts) have been monumental failures. Blarg.
Whoops, got way off topic again so here it is, my mothers' day project: a Scrabble and picture frame charm necklace. My mom loves Scrabble, I mean, LOVES it. She plays it online with as many friends as possible and whenever I ask her if there are any chores/tasks I can help with her first reply is always: a 100 point word for my Scrabble game. Always. And any time she says "shoot!" or lets out a sigh of frustration it's because one of her opponents took her perfect spot for a bingo word (a word that uses all 7 tiles at once and get 50 bonus points). So I thought I'd get some tiles that say "I [blank] YOU MOM" using the blank to carve a heart and make them charms on a necklace. Adorable, no? Yes, that answer is yes it's adorable. Well, as per usual, this idea evolved, or rather, snowballed, into: what if I decoupaged pictures for charms? into: how about little charms of Shrinky Dink pictures (you didn't think I'd forget about using the dinks for this project, did you?) then, how about I put the dinks in frames somehow? and of course I'd stay awake at night brain-storming the perfect way to combine all these ideas and finally arrived at my current plan. I am drilling holes into the Scrabble tiles, then using mixed metal eyelets in the holes to make them look more finished. I used the inkjet Shrinky Dink plastic to print old pictures of the family when my brother and I were still cute to make little charms. I then cut out metal frames, used my Dremel to remove the inside of the metal blanks and engraved designs into the metal to look like real picture frames. I glued the pictures behind the frames and the final step will be to use an epoxy resin to "dome" or glaze the pictures to bring out the colors and make them looked finished. I've never used resin so that'll be a new adventure for me.

I'm still between steps for finishing this project, it'll be a few more days at least until this necklace is done since it has to be perfect or I'll lose even more sleep over this. I'll keep you updated on my progress and if the resin experiment works out so keep checking in!