Father’s Day Present : Modern Design Inspired Ties

The Story
Father’s Day is always a hard one. My husband and my dad want experiences (go out to dinner, enjoy an afternoon together) and my children want to make gifts. So, I find myself trying to blend each of these group’s desires.  Isn’t it always like that as a mom?

This year, I went with functional presents, and as always, they had to be homemade. Along with our sunglasses case, we also decorated ties. I wanted then to be inspired by something in our lives, so we decided to look to our travels–an ideal source of inspiration.  Our recent trip to Columbus Indiana had reignited my interest in the American textile designer Alexander Girard.
Girard might not be a household name, but his work for the modern furniture firm, Herman Miller, made his aesthetic famous. He used bright colors and simple forms to create an unmistakable joy.  But, rather than being a slave to function, Girard was also very focused on function.  He famously said, “Art is only art if it is synonymous with living.”
The Process
Start with a plain white tie, like the ones gawky teenage boys buy to match their date’s dress at prom. Use fabric markers to create your pattern. Voila! We drew directly on the ties, but you can preplan your designs on paper.  We decided to be intrepid; or we were impatient. You decide :>


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Keeping Beauty at Hand: Sashiko Embroidery Egg Covers

Sashiko Embroidery Egg Cups

The Story
I am flighty.  I get interested in something, do it until I master it well enough, and then I move on.  I can do a lot of things, sort of okay. This year, I decided that it was okay that I was a dilettante. You would be amazed how much better you feel when you give yourself permission to be yourself.
That said, another decision I made was that I was only going to make crafts that were actually going to be part of my life.  In a previous career, I crafted professionally, making samples for classes I taught. As such, I had all sorts of stuff lying around that I only sort of liked. Now, I would make things that fell squarely in my lovely life or made my life more lovely.
This is how we get to these egg cup covers.  You might think I came up with these without need.  You would be wrong. My daughters and I, much to my husband’s chagrin, are members of the wobbly egg cult. (My husband is of the rubbery, yucky club sponsored by salmonella prevention.)We love soft boiled, poached, and sunny side up.  We have been trying to get the perfect soft boiled egg for ages now.
Recently I came across a note in an old cookbook that soft boiled eggs can be kept cozy if precooked with a little cover.  And, I thought, well, what a perfect way to enliven the experience of eating a less than perfect soft boiled egg.  Sure, I could instead of learned to perfect the soft boiled egg, but that mission was not going so well.  So, instead, I thought I would engage in a little visual marketing.  After all,  good design makes up for a whole lot.
Sashiko Egg Cups
The Process
This is one of those projects that would be easier if I knew what I was doing.  But, in having to figure it out myself, I learned a lot about me. I had always assumed I knew how to cut a pattern, but it turns out, I don’t.  So, the first time I cut the fabric too small.
Then I decided to make a paper pattern.  I used a fake plastic egg as a guide.  Pull the paper over the egg to see how much allowance you need.
Cut one piece of felt in the shape of the pattern on piece of colored/ patterned cotton.
Using embroidery floss sew an pattern.  Sashiko is the Japanese art of embroidery.  It requires making one long stitch.  you will notice that not all my cross or patterns overlap. […]

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The Unicorn of the Sea: Narwhale Cupcake Toppers

Narwhale Cupcake Topper

The Story
We were in Saguenay, Quebec in August, one of the best times to go whale watching.  We were not disappointed.  We saw many species, fairly close up.  There were fin whales, blue whales, minkes galore.  It got to the point where a minke would pop up, and we would be bored.
It was in this nature a-plenty mood that we stopped at the shore near Saguenay, Quebec, called Les Escoumins.  We sat on the side of the shore, confident in our newly-gained knowledge of the marine world.  We hunkered down for a bit when the ranger said, “There’s a Narwhale.”
I am going to tell you the truth. I don’t know that I saw it. We might have also see a Narwhale.  All these months later, I am a little suspect.  Yes, there were said to be narwhales.  Yes, we were there at that time.  But, did we really see it? My daughter is convinced.  She is a truthful person, though prone to suggestion.  (I might suggest that the majority of people could be described that way.)
Unlike whales, the narwhales are often seen alone (so our guide told us).  They peek up and then disappear, so observations are fleeting. More often then not, the moment of observation is so short, you are unsure that you saw it before it is gone.  They are more memory than anything else.  Memory and myth.
The whole moment of the narwhale made me think about the way that I as a grown up shape my children’s memories. As a rational person, I want to manage my children’s world.  I want them to use conditional language, when conditional responses are required.  I believe in clauses, for everything can be seen as causal.  But, what’s wrong with me?  I mean, basically, my daughter saw the unicorn of the sea.  How many people can say that?  She has gotten to be part of a myth. And, who am I to stop her? Travel ignites wonder and lets us live in myth.  If her wonder and myth, includes a possibly seen narwhale, who she named Nora, so the better.
So, the narwhales are now part of our past.  To keep them, and the fact that we revel in wonder, in our present, I whipped up these cupcake toppers to light my dad’s birthday.

A post shared by Seema r (@artplaymake) on Mar 25, 2017 at 8:40am PDT

The Project
You need femo, a tooth pick, a birthday candle, and a little practice.  I used three colors of femo (2 blues and a white), but you could get away with two, a dark one for the body and a light one for the horn.
Form the body first, like an oval, pinch off the tail, then the fins. This is a process best seen through pictures. My only verbal comment would be […]

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Sticking with It: Disney Pin Board

Disney Pin Board

The Story
I am of the garbage pail kids generation.  If you are younger, as you undoubtedly are, you had some other collecting craze.  Harken back to whatever craze you collected.  Remember the feeling of getting just the right item to fill out your collection.  Oh, the satisfaction–the victory.  And, then remember that moment, perhaps soon after your collecting prowess took you to great heights, you inevitably lose your prize.  It might have been lost in a library book, spirit away by a younger sister, or trader away in a bum deal.  Either way, the feeling of loss is equal and opposite to your victory.
At our house, our chief opponent of our girl’s collecting habits is Pixie.  She is a sweet labrador puppy.  We often believe she employs her cutest in order to get away with her accompanying desire for destruction.  Now, I should be careful.  As dogs go, she is a gentle soul.  She doesn’t chew furniture. She would never run out an open door without permission.  Her only vise is the children’s toys.  The more they love a Shopkin, the more she was to chew it into saliva-covered dust.
With this in mind, I decided we better find a way to corral our Disney pins.  These pins are collectibles from Disney, where kids can trade with cast members and other pin folks.  My daughters really got into this activity; it filled their love of aesthetics and competition.
Once we got home, I didn’t want these to go into Pixie’s craw.  (Think of the vet’s bills). I wanted something that fit within our aesthetic, which is more subtle than many of the Disney pin boards I found online.  This project was particularly easy, so the girls could help out.
Once finished your children, or you, have a lovely, dog-proof way to keep your pin collection safe :>

A post shared by Seema r (@artplaymake) on Mar 20, 2017 at 10:51am PDT

The Project
You need cork contact paper, an exacto blade, a backboard (we used a plastic board), tissue paper, and some pins.
Start by trimming cork to be size of the back board.
Draw the castle form.  If you would like me to make mine a downloadable, leave a message.
Trim out the form from the center of the cork using a sharp blade.
Turn the cork over and peel of the back.  Be warned.  The sticky side is STICKY.
Place a piece of tissue paper to cover the hole.
Stick the cork to the board.
Add your pins.  And, voila, pins are safe from pests.

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Planting Seeds : Cactus and Houseplant Bookmarks


The Story
I am a big reader.  I mean like 150-200 books a year, even now, with kids and a job.  I was the kind of teenager who feel asleep with a pile of books in her bed.  I hung out in coffee shops.  I dream of bookshelves with leather bound tombs.
A couple years ago, I decluttered (konmari-lite).  I kept some unread books and got rid of some I loved.  We donated scores to the homeless and prisoners.  I still have more books than hairs on my head, but I would say it is manageable. (More manageable than my hair, mind you.)  Instead of buying books, I became a power user of our library systems (we have two of the largest in the country in my town).  I also  moved to digital.  (Audible gasps at this point in the story are okay).
I was initially averse.  What about the action of holding your tale? Flipping the pages?  The smell, oh the smell.  Sure those things are gone.  But, now I can rent a book at 9:55 on a Tuesday night, kill it Wednesday night, and get another.  I can flip through so many options and not look like a hoarder.
But, there was a strange bi-product.  While I now have a certain ease of reading, my love of books has gone stealth.  My children don’t have the parents I did, noses in books.  They have a mom, like all the others, addicted to tech.  Studies show that lifelong readers join this pursuit in part because they see their caregivers enjoying books.  And, I wanted my girls to see that.  As further enticement, I thought we would glam it up.  Hence, the many bookmarks on my blog.  (We are flighty in our visual desires).  And, so this project was born.

A post shared by Seema r (@artplaymake) on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:58pm PDT

The Project
Using plasticine clay, start my making your cactus form (like a three-pronged fork).  Make your cactus stem slightly longer than you would like it to be in the end.  Our cactus book marks are about gold dollar sized.
Create your femo pot.  I went for striped.  You choose your pattern.
Turn both over and smooth together.
Cook at 200 for 10 minutes (or to package directions).
When cool, hot glue to a binder clip.
Put on the right page of your best book.

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Meow ! : Cat Shaped Wire Rings


The Story
We are a mixed family, in many senses.  My husband and I were raised in different regions of the US, in different faiths, in different sorts of families.  My husband and I look different. He is taller, stockier, and white; I am shorter, slimmer, and brown.  You might say he looks all-American and I look… And, that is where I might stop.  My family has been in the states only a few decades less than his.  But, my Asian self still looks foreign to a lot of Americans.  Nevermind, that I speak with an Ohio accent (I know, we don’t have an accent).  Nevermind, that I wear the latest in soccer mom fashion. (I used to be cooler.) It remains for many that my face, or rather the color of my skin, looks foreign.  And, therefore, my husband and I don’t match each other to many people.
When I was pregnant I remember a colleague, who has no children, asking, “whatever will your children will look like, as well, you both look  so incredibly different.”  I stood there wondering if her parents had been siblings, or something.  Few people marry their carbon copies. What, of course, she meant was that we were different races.  While this is a fairly small example, it came to mind this week with all of the people who decided that Robert Kelly, man with the awesome daughter, had an Asian nanny rather than a wife who happened to be Asian.
It is natural to wonder about other people.  Interacting with others involves acts of  imagination, empathy, communication, and finally, action.  Imagination and communication help you grow empathy for others which in turn helps you act in reasonable ways.  When these factors are out of whack or missing, then we act in inappropriate ways.  So, when people can’t imagine falling in love with someone who looks different, or have empathy for many someone who is different, then they communicate or act out their ignorance.
So, back to the case of that old colleague, not was not a master of emotional intelligence anyway.  She probably could have just waited to have her answer without asking the question. (I was already at the waddling stage of pregnancy when she caught me.)  And, to all those people who have said that we don’t match, they might have also bitten their tongues.  Because, what they were all sharing was that our family doesn’t fall into their stereotypes.  If they were sincerely curious, let’s say because their grandchildren are multi-racial, they would need to find a way that felt more positive.
What do I mean? Think of an example that is not as racially charged.  I grew up in a family that had both cats and dogs.  I was probably in college before I learned that the issue of cats or dogs could be […]

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Lucky Clips : St Patrick’s Day Accessory Tutorial

St. Patricks Day Hair Clips

The Story
One summer day in the 1960, my mother-in-law joined her new boyfriend’s family for dinner.  She sat through course after course of unfamiliar food.  When she thought her bounty had finally abated, she was served a salad.  My mother-in-law still talks about that final salad, in shock both in its sequence after the main meal and its leafy freshness.  The salad is like a punchline in this story of opposites attract, as an emblem of a totally different way of line.  My mother-in-law would go on to marry him, my father-in-law, son of Italian immigrants. She would spend the next 40 years as his “American” wife.
She would stay that she was his Irish wife.  Her family had come in prior to the Civil War, fighting on both sides for pay as so many Irish immigrants did. While their descendants married within their ethnicity, by the 1960s, culturally the only hallmarks of their Erin past were and faith and countenance.  That and Irish pride. While my mother-in-law is not a shamrock arm-tat, green-beer gal, she is quick to bring up her Irish ancestry to new acquaintances.  This pride has been passed on to our girls, who would make the black Irish look pale, and they stand proud on St. Patrick’s Day every year.
I, not at all Irish, never gave the holiday much mind.  I would never look at a Shamrock shake. Green beer? Corned beef and cabbage.  The whole lot of American St. Patrick’s day seems an acquired taste.  While my proximity to adherents has helped me get in the act, I will say that I am not a whole-hearted participant.
I bring it with subtly like a minimalists guide to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  We don’t go to the parade.  We drink Irish beer but without food coloring.  We eschew potatoes as they were the death of a generation due to the falsely-induced famine.  We listen to 90s Irish indie bands. And, we wear subtle pops of green and plenty of pride!

A video to show how easy it is to make festive #stpatricksday hair clips <<< #craft #crafted #craftblogger #freestylecreativeliving #handmadewithlove #artplayspace #madewithlove #handsandhustle #stopmotion #stopmotionanimation #stopmotionvideo #animation #craftvideo #modafeminina #accessories #diystyle
A post shared by Seema r (@artplaymake) on Mar 14, 2017 at 2:41pm PDT

The Directions
This project is pretty darn simple.
Find some wood.  You can use a coffee stirrer.  I had a bit of cane lying around from a failed basket-weaving endeavor.  (A tale for another day).  Trim the wood to squares.
Grab some green felt.  I like one that is sort of an off-green, not the Kelly Green of girls scouts and leprechauns. But, I don’t judge your green leanings.
Trim the felt into a square. Cut a triangular notch in each side.
Then trim off each if the original corner. Now you should have a sort of X-shape.
Finally, trim a […]

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Turn Instagram Photographs into Embroidery Masterpieces

The Story
I have been going through literally thousands of images. With as many degrees as fingers on my writing hand, I assure you that by literally I mean the actual truth.  And, in those virtual haystacks, I didn’t find just the picture I wanted, of my daughter facing her fears to climb her first lighthouse.  But, I did find an amazingly hilarious picture of my daughter eating octopus for the first time (she is a lover) and my other daughter pretending to be a pirate (she is also a lover).
I love taking photographs capturing these digital souvenirs of moments of joy and even sadness.  (I have absolutely hilarious images of Tigerlilly having fits in Barcelona, Georgia, Quebec, California…)  My daughters have gotten the photobug from me.  They love color and composition.  So we end up with virtual piles of imagery.
When we get home, I turn the pictures into a little photobook.  When it arrives in the mail in three weeks or so, we pour over the images, the good memories rekindled in ourselves. And, then we put the book away on the shelf.  Those photos that didn’t make the book don’t even get that much attention. And, there we come to the moment I was in yesterday, scouring my hard drive for a particular landscape.  
And, this is how this project came to be. I wanted the photographs of joyous places to be showcased in our home.  I didn’t want just a wall of framed images. I wanted to give them some care. So, I came up with this project to do with the girls.  We each have a different image to turn into an embroidery. I finished mine, because as an ex-teacher, I wanted to have a project sample.
The project has some added benefits.  Looking closely is a skill that helps with critical thinking, because it helps children to learn to able to understand visual information. Also, fine motor skills are devolving in children perhaps due to the change in classrooms away from handwriting.  Sewing is a great way to increase those skills. Finally, sewing is a great form of meditation.  With the rainy weather, sewing is an ideal way to chill in the warmth of one’s home.

The Directions
The results look complicated but it is pretty easy is actuality.
Start with an image you like. Pick one with simple colors and forms.
Use a […]

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Wire-wrapped Stone Rings

The Story
My daughters and I have big eyes.  I do mean this literally.  We are the sort of people accused of staring even when our lids are at exhausted half-mast.  But, I also mean in terms of desire.  We have to use every ounce of self control to not over eat at a buffet.  We leave libraries with more books than hours in a day.  So, basically, it is inevitable that we should leave beaches loaded down with glass, rocks, shells, and driftwood.
Aesthetically, I am not drawn to the nautical.  Driftwood sculptures and shell garlands aren’t really my jam.  So, I am forever thinking of way to incorporate these spoils into our aesthetic.  I am sure you know what I mean.  You are home from vacation, only to realize that the souvenir that you have is so ugly you wouldn’t buy it again (but did buy it the first time). A few years ago, the Konmari fairy visited us, so, we are averse to such souvenirs.  We only bring home a few small things that we love.  But, then again, we only love what we have!

The Directions

Grab some small stones, ideally, ones with positive connotations.
Brush them with 2-3 coats of Modgepodge.
Wrap them in jewelry wire.
Hot glue them to a ring base.
Wear to a cocktail party.


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Cactus Earrings : Sharp Style

The Story
We don’t wear shoes in the house.  There are days where I am tempted, but I am Asian, and we don’t wear shoes in the house.  Why am I tempted?  Because I live with two humans who seem to be trying to kill me.  Sure they seem like they love me, with their handmade valentines and their wet, wet kisses.  But, all the while, they leave missiles in the form of tiny lego flowers and shopkins on the floor.  These are just in the middle of the floor, plainly visible.  These things aren’t even in their room.  They are in odd places like the crease when the rise meets the run on a step.  Places where the person walking might not think to be careful.  With the target’s guard down, the full impact of said missile is felt in excruciating clarity.
One such item that fell under foot yesterday was a lone stud earring. My younger daughter has returned home from school maybe a dozen times with both earrings still in place.  I feel lucky if the dislodged earring has been placed in a pocket or in a bag.  Most likely, it has gone to become a foot missile in her school.  What do you do with just one earring? With the preponderance of lone earrings, I have take to dressing them up.

This simple project turns a couple of mismatched earrings into a set of Cactus earrings, on trend and off the floor.
The Directions
You need two old stud earrings, 2 tiny green felt balls, 1 tiny colored green felt ball (I used pink), black thread, a needle, and epoxy.  
Start by sewing the green balls, in the way I made the cactus bookmarks.

Cactus Bookmarks on the blog today, and playing around with Stopmotion. Missing #vineapp >>> #crafts #crafted #crafting #creativelifehappylife #crafter #felted #functionalart #felt #feltballs #feltcraft #feltflowers #cactus #cacti #bookmarks #bookmark #stopmotion #stopmotionanimation #animation #stopmo #craftvideo #craftvideos #craftvids
A post shared by Seema R (@artplayspace) on Feb 24, 2017 at 10:36am PST

Then cut the pink ball in half.
Epoxy one half to each of the green balls.
Finally, epoxy the cacti to the studs.
Voila! Sharp Style.