Saturday, July 21, 2012


Just wanted to pop in for a second and say posting on here may be sporadic because a great tragedy has befallen me. Not really. My hard drive crashed, and though maybe not a tragedy, it is a huge pain in the ass. I kind of knew it was coming (but hoped that it wouldn't) so most of my important photos and stuff were backed up. But I don't have access to photoshop while it's down, so no pretty pictures until I can afford to replace the hard drive.

Friday, July 13, 2012

DIY: Etched Coffee Canister

I love containers. I love boxes, and drawers, and cupboards. I save jelly jars and little candy boxes. Seriously, I have a drawer full of little boxes and jars. When I worked in an art supply store my favorite day was Tuesday because that's when the new shipments would come in and they let me take home the little cardboard boxes the oil paint tubes came in. Usually, I try to limit my collection of containers to things that I've saved from the trash, but I also love that wall in the kitchen section of Ikea that's covered in shelves of jars and canisters. I eyeballed that wall for a long time before I finally decided that I really did need to put my coffee in a nice canister, instead of letting it languish in the bag like I was some kind of coffee heathen.

And of course, I couldn't just put the coffee in the new canisters and be done with it, I had to fancy them up in some way and glass etching is a craft I've been meaning to try. There are plenty of other tutorials on how to do this, so I just included what worked best for me.
glass canister or jar
etching cream
contact paper
template (printout or hand drawn)

First, wash and dry the canister so it is totally free of any moisture or oils it may have picked up from your hands.

Next, create whatever you want etched on your canister in Word or Photoshop. Or you can go the old fashioned way and draw it by hand. You might want to experiement with fonts. I started with a fancy schmancy font with a lot of swirls on it and then broke the blade on my exacto knife trying to cut out all those curves. 

Tape your printout to the contact paper and the contact paper to your cutting mat/ work surface so it doesn't slip while you're cutting.

Make the template by carefully cutting around the letters. Be patient and take your time with this part, maybe have some soothing music playing in the background, it can get frustrating and tedious.

After all the letters are cut out, very carefully remove the paper baking from the contact paper, making sure not to tear the more delicate parts of the letters. Put the template on the canister and smooth it, making sure it sticks all around the edges of the letters. You want to create a seal so the etching cream doesn't leak underneath.

Paint a thick layer of the etching cream over the stencil. The packaging on the cream says to leave it on for one minute. I've experimented with different times and for the glass I'm using one minute barely left a mark. What worked best for me was 5 minutes on, rinse, then applying a second coat and leave on for another 5 minutes. 

Rinse off the etching cream by running under tepid water.

Finally, peel the stencil off. Fill with your favorite coffee and you're done.

I decided to make a whole set of jars and canisters for dark and light roasts of coffee and for loose leaf teas. Now everything is matching and contained instead of spilling out of plastic bags all over my kitchen shelves.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Blooming Tea

A while back someone gave me some blooming teas as a gift. If you've never seen blooming tea you should check it out because it's pretty fascinating to watch. It starts out as a little ball, then slowly opens up and sinks to the bottom of your cup. I may or may not have bought this clear glass mug just so I could watch my tea bloom.

 Of course, I had to photograph the process while also getting in some needed practice with lighting. I'm working with less than professional equipment, meaning my soft boxes are made from foam core and light chords from ikea, so some improvising had to be done. The glass is lit from both sides by my poor man's soft boxes and lit from below by a makeshift light table (I managed this with a sheet of plexi, four spaghetti sauce jars, and a light my mom uses to trace quilting patterns). Like I said, not exactly professional, but you have to start somewhere.
Now it's ready to drink

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Happy fourth of July everyone! I hope it's full of fireworks and pride! While you're eating hotdogs and getting sunburned here's something to be proud of if you're American. It's a list the Library of Congress posted of the 88 books that shaped the USA. It's easy now a days to be a little bit disillusioned with the state of our country, but today let's remember our great thinkers and leaders and be proud of them!

Click here to see the full list. What's your opinion of the list? Did they leave out any you would include? One on there you don't agree with?

Mid-Week Masters: Stephanie Metz


I absolutely love an artist who takes what is traditionally considered a craft and uses it to make fine art. I also love an artist who takes their work very personally. This might be a little bit if narcissism because that is what I try to do in my own work a lot of the time, but I guess inspiration is partly narcissism...but that's a discussion for another time. Anyway, Stephanie Metz creates beautiful and slightly disturbing (again, you're speaking my language) felted wool sculptures. I first started following her work when I ran across her Overbred Animals series. In her newer series Pelts, she takes her experiences as a new mother and her discovery of instincts she didn't realize she had and translates them into her work.

From her website:
The messy, uncontrollable, and immensely satisfying elements of being a mother brought home to me that for all my education, tool use, and language, I am essentially a mammal.   
One physical hallmark of being a mammal is possessing hair—something humans routinely try to shape, deny, remove, and contain that persists nonetheless.  In this work I combine found clothing items that carry their own layers of meaning with hair that intrudes on and reshapes them as a reassertion of the closeted mammal inside. Acknowledging our mammalian roots places humankind back among - not above - other animals.

All images from Stephanie Metz's website 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New baby

Oh thrift stores, thank you for rewarding me for trudging through your musty shelves.