Homemade Paper Perforation

While I was creating a few prototypes for an upcoming craft show, I accidentally sewed a piece of felt to a piece of cardstock. It was one of those head slapping doh! moments that left me shaking my head. But as I was tearing the cardstock from the felt - it tore so easily - a light bulb went off. If I take out the thread of  my sewing machine, I have something that will punch holes at an automated rate! And if I change out the needle for a bigger one, I could not only perforate paper, but leather and who knows what else.... Anyway, here's a few pics:

(I found the 2mm to tear the best.)


Thermometer hold

Last month, I put my polyester dyeing to the test. When dyeing synthetics like polyester, you need the right tools - most importantly the right dye. The dye I use is temperature dependent, so I need a thermometer to make sure all my pots are simmering at the right Fahrenheit. This is where my trusty thermometer comes in handy. Except I realized the other day, I didn't have a way to secure it to the pot!

Enter a trusty little office supply: the binder clip.

Specifically an OXO binder clip. This binder clip happens to have rubber on its grip. When clipped to the pot, the themometer can be slid between it's arms and will hold it in place.

Genius, if I do say so myself.

I'm back (again)!

Hi all! I know I've been a little MIA as of late, but never fear - I'm back! The BF and I were in Maine for three weeks and it's been crazy since we've gotten back. Very exciting things happening over here, and I'll be updating the blog with some back stories. In the meantime, this is what's been happening! -I just got the new website up and running. Very excited about having all the flexibility I could ever want or desire in something like this. And let me tell you, I learned way more than I ever thought I'd know about HTML and CSS. Good times. Tell me what you think!

-New products that will soon be uploaded to etsy!

-Exciting-life-changing news (involving the BF and myself) - we're gettin' hitched!

So stay tuned for any or all of the updates....!

Too Integral

Do you remember that DIY bobbin winder I made? The one that is extremely integral to the weaving process? Well, the wooden handle I use to clamp it down with wriggled itself loose and then right off the steel shaft. Apparently it was only glued on and I definitely didn't have the proper tools to fix it. It was rendered useless in early May and I wasn't able to weave for a solid 2 weeks. Which is one of many reasons why I haven't been posting anything about weaving.

So I brought it to my brother, the machinist, and he fixed it. It now has this really awesome "prosthetic arm" that clamps wonderfully to my table. Really, it works way better than before! Thanks dude!

And if you're wondering if my entire family uses their hands in some way, the answer is undoubtedly yes. If the economy ever collapses and we have to go to bartering, we'll be just fine, thank you very much.

Upholstery 101: Know when to fold

I know I mentioned that the upholstery was slow going. Well, it proved to be a snails pace when I started to actually cover things. When upholstering, the goal is to first tack everything down so that it looks how you want, then staple to finalize. The tacks are super easy to get out and reposition. Except in my case, of course.

Turns out I bought super high density foam and that, paired with the fact that the plywood on the underside is treated with some sort o strange tar material (maybe it's a fireproofing material?), makes for impossible tacking. The hammer bounces all over the place because of the foam, and they don't stick when hammered in. If I did get some to stick, they just popped out the second I placed my staple gun down to seal the deal. 

Oh, how slow going it was! In the end I got so frustrated, I put down my hammer and just started to staple. That's a pretty huge no-no, but in the end I was surprised with how even I got each one. Definitely won't do that with future upholstery projects, but what's that phrase? Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. Yep, got it.

Upholster 101: Memory Lane

The upholstery project I set out to complete has been a little slow going. Mostly it's because I can't figure out what material to reupholster the stackable foot rests with. But more on that another day. I figure it's better to take one thing at a time, so I set out to disassemble them to see what I was up against.

 Thankfully the staples used were super easy to get out, so taking them apart was the easy part. First the white pleather one, then the red one, then the brown one...

Oh, that dark brown cushion was an emotional one. It took me on a trip down memory lane. There were two holes in the plywood underneath each cushion and upon further notice...

What's this I see? A little treasure from the past! I recognized it immediately as a scratch and sniff sticker I had when I was super little. It was probably even a hand-me-down sticker from my sister dating it from.... well, let's just say a long time ago. 

I removed the cover and found the scratch-n-sniff mostly in-tacked along with a penny from 1964. Sweet!

The best part? IT STILL SMELLS LIKE CHOCOLATE WHEN IT'S SCRATCHED! Ah, memories. Although makes you wonder what they used on that sticker for it to smell 30 years later...

Upholstery 101

When I was little, these stackable foot stools provided endless entertainment and hosted many a tea party. As you can see, they are circa 1970 when pleather was it. My parents bought them from Ethan Allen and they have held up quite well to all kinds of beatings over the years, although it's time for an update. I'm taking them to an upholstery class at the 3rd Ward to redo. More updates as the project progresses!

Soak yourself clean...

So I did it all. I washed and scoured part of the sheep fleece and a small portion of the alpaca I was so generously given. A messy job, but not as difficult as I originally thought it would be. 
Below are the basic steps to how I scoured the fleece I received.  I used medium sized lingerie bags with large mesh holes. I think large holes were important given that there was so much VM (vegetable matter, that is); they were imperative for allowing all the junk to fall through while containing the locks in the bag. 
The one downer to all this is the amount of water I had to use. I'm thankful that our apartment has scalding hot water straight out of the tap, but I had a strange sense of guilt from using so much. For the first small batch - my test batch - I used my handy 4 gallon OXO bucket. 

I gave the wool two 5 minute soaks in separate hot water baths. I didn't even add detergent at this point. The first two rinses were so dirty, it didn't seem worth while - the second the bag hit the bucket the water turned the color of mahogany or maybe the color of an espresso with nothing added. And this is after I did some intense skirting on this fleece, so no, there weren't any poop tags or muddy locks. I will spare you the first rinse picture.

Fi really had the need to watch the whole process. She had the best seat (and view) in the whole place.

Now comes the detergent. I used regular ol' Dawn liquid dish soap because that is what everyone on the interwebs suggested. I guess if it can clean an oily penguin, it can get lanolin out of some locks.

Then another rinse. Although this one looked a little dirty still, so I repeated the soap soak followed by two clean water soaks. 
Socks couldn't stop watching either. And they were obsessed with the cloth bags I was storing the fleece. (Oddly they didn't want to have anything to do with the cleaned wool.) Before I washed them, the bags smelled like a clean barnyard because I had added lavender packs to the bags to keep away moths and other insects. Classy. Socks wanted to sleep on them!

After the last rinse, I let the bags drain then rolled the wool on a towel to get out the excess water, similar to how I would clean a wool sweater. The result? Clean locks! You can still see some VM, but look how white they turned out! I can pick out the big VM, but the rest will (hopefully) come out when I pick and card it.

After the small test batch, I tackled the whole of it. Somehow I timed it perfectly to be drying in the afternoon sun! 

DIY Weaving Paddle

I was watching a weaving video the other day. Yes, I watch weaving videos. Now that we've all stopped laughing, I watched the woman in the video demonstrate a paddle. To put it simply for those who don't weave, paddles can speed up your warping time because they allow you to warp several threads at a time. They do other things, like create stripped warps quickly too, but I won't go into it. Just know that they are a time saver. Anyway, they look like a rigid heddle, which looks like this:

I've never used one, but wanted to try one, but didn't want to buy one. They're pricey, it would take a while to arrive because I'd have to mail order it, and who knows if I'd even like to use it. It also seemed like something I could make. So I decided to put my creative problem solving to the test. Since I don't have access to a super stocked prototyping shop anymore, I often find myself scratching my head wondering how to whip up something it normally took me a few minutes to make. I'd like to say that it's developed my problem solving skills even more.

"All I need is a piece of wood or plastic a few millimeters thick with slots and holes," I thought. Simple, really. Popsicle sticks would totally work, but I'd have to go out and buy them and I wanted something a little more durable.

And then I had that ureka moment: "I HAVE SHRINKY DINK SHEETS!" (I literally said it aloud and woke up a sleeping cat.)

Apparently I introduced my boyfriend to the joyful world of Shrinky Dinks. Oh, Mainers. Granted, living in remote Maine, he didn't have access to toy stores like I did growing up in suburban CT, but really? Not grow up with the wonderment of a shirnky dink? So, for those who don't know, they were "kits" with several plastic sheets of your favorite Disney/My Little Pony/Transformer, etc characters outlined in black for you to color in. Using the provided colored pencils, you'd color a little life into the outlines. Then, when baked in the oven, they would magically shrivel up and flatten out into little half-pint versions of their original selves. I have found memories of my face planted next to the oven window watching in amazement as they transformed.

Apparently now they come complete with dioramas. Which makes sense. I mean, what did I do with those little things once shrunk? Stuck them to the windows only to be forgotten about and then thrown out by a parental unit. Great, I just gave myself 'recycler's guilt'.

Okay, enough. If you're interested in how I made a paddle out of "shirnky dink" material, feel free to check out my instructions below!
DIY Weaving Paddle

You'll need:
- One 10.5"x 8" sheet of shrinky dink plastic** [it's polystyrene (PS, #6 recycle symbol) for you nerdy types]
- My template (or you can use your own)
- Exacto blade
- straight edge
- hole punch
- cardboard (I used the back of a legal pad)
- 400 grit sandpaper
- alcohol and cotton ball
- markers or color pencils to decorate (optional)
**Polystyrene will shrink roughly to 45% of it's original size, so just be conscious of that if you're using your own template or if you don't want to buy shrinky dink sheets and use a muffin container with a #6 recycle symbol that isn't quite as big as I used. 

1.) Rough up both sides of the sheet with sandpaper. I do this because I don't like the way the pastic feels after shrinking. (I'm weird when it comes to tactile things! Why do you think I like fiber?!) It also helps when adding any sort of color or markings, not to mention it reduces the static electricity issue of super smooth plastic. Stuff will stick to it and then it gets baked in and then it's just gross.

2.) Remove excess dust with alcohol and a cotton ball. If there are bits of dust they'll melt in when shrinking. Not cool.

3.) Print out template - make sure you print it at 100%, or else the scaling will be off when you go to shrink the plastic. Tape the piece to the template. (Ignore the fact that I started to trace - totally realized that was unnecessary after I taped the template on!)

4.) Starting with the small holes, cut out the holes and slots with the exacto blade and straight edge. If you do all the long slots first, it'll be super difficult to cut out the smaller ones between.

5.) Punch out edges of slots and holes with the hole punch. This relieves the stress at the corner of the squares and keeps the plastic from tearing. [Nerd fact #2 in this DIY.]

I was feeling punchy.

6.) Decorate if you'd like.

Now comes the fun part.

7.) Heat oven to ~310 degrees. (Anywhere between 300-350 deg is fine.) Place plastic sheet on a piece of cardboard and place in oven.

8.) Watch as it shrinks! (Sorry I don't have pictures!) It will curl up and get all wonky, when it does this DO NOT FUSS WITH IT.  Don't worry it'll flatten out. I swear. If for some reason it sticks to itself - it should correct itself, you just have to wait - but if not take it out and release it, pop it back in the oven and let it finish.

9.) When it's all shrunk down and flattened out you know it's done. Take it out and evaluate if you need to push the slots together (they might be skewed a little). You now have my permission to fuss with it. If it hardens before you have a chance to fix it, just reheat in oven until pliable.

And voila!