Accessories Tie it all Together

Few men wear ties regularly, but for some reason they seem to be a frequent birthday, Christmas, and Father’s Day gift. A lot have pretty cool prints on them, so it seems sad that all those great silk ties are fated to clutter the closet. This is a great way to turn an old tie into a whole set of stylish accessories for either gender: see the results on our lovely model.


My boyfriend attended an Episcopal high school, but it clearly didn’t do him much good because now he is an artist. Undiciplined free-spirit that he is, he let me have my pick from the ties he hasn’t worn in years.

Our raw materials

Our raw materials

First you must decide where to cut.


Measure the point of the tie, which will become a purse, against your phone. Put the leading edge of the phone on the blue dotted line. Cut on the white dotted line (note that I left some space for the seam). Make sure that the point–which will become your button hole–can reach the front, where your button will go (as in the picture below):


If you plan to make a more masculine accessory set, the point will become a pencil case. Measure it against a pencil and cut it at the bottom, with a bit of seam allowance.image05

The small tip will become a bracelet (or a watch strap, if you prefer), so measure it against your wrist. After I cut my tie, it looked like this (ruler for scale)


All of these pieces will need their ragged cut-ends polished up before they can be worn. To do this, cut off a bit of the stiff canvas inside the tie:image12

Then fold the outsides edges in, like wrapping a present


Sew along the blue lines. On the bottom edge, hem. In the middle, sew the sides  together, On the side edges, sew the top flap to the bottom. Finally, cut and sew a button hole on the point, along the white dotted-line (a picture for this later in the post).

Now to attach the strap: hide as many lose edges as possible behind a single leading-edge.

Fold over the leading edge to keep it from fraying, and sew the strap onto the back. You are now done with the purse (or pencil case). Moving on to the bracelet:

Cut a buttonhole along the white line (above). Sew along the middle and hem up the edge (purple lines).image09

Stitch around the button hole so it doesn’t rip open or fray. If you’ve never done it before, it should look something like this:image10

Sew on the button (make sure to get it in exactly the right spot!) and your bracelet is finished.




To make your bow tie, take the widest piece of fabric you have left, and open it up to separate out the stiff canvas. The canvas gives shape to the necktie, and it will do the same for your bow or bow tie. Cut the canvas into a rectangle with about the same aspect-ratio as below. It helps to measure it against a store-bought bow tie if you have one lying around. Once you have it cut, sew the silk onto the canvas once more. Make sure that one side looks perfect, including the edges:image22

The other side can be pretty gnarly, since no one will see it.


Pinch the tie with two pleats, the same as a store-bought bow tie. Sew it into that position, and wrap the center with a spare scrap of the tie or a scrap of matching color.image23

Finally, mount the tie on a black ribbon or (in my case) a black elastic head-band. This has the added benefit of making the bow work on the head or neck.

The headband is the simplest project of all. Hem the edges–I hemmed them with points, to match the point on the bracelet and purse, but square edges are nice too. Then attach it to a stiff or elastic headband, either with hot-glue or by sewing it down. The set looks fantastic against classy black, and makes for a perfect gift.



Seven Most Essential Tools in my Craft Kit

I travel a lot, especially in the last year (five states and four countries!), so I’ve been mobile crafting. Now I have a real home, in San Francisco, and I can finally live the dream of building a craft room (sigh), but I will always have a special love for the tools that got me through a year on the road. Whether you are hitting the road or just cutting back on clutter, what tools are absolutely essential to your crafting kit? Here are my top seven, leave yours in the comments:

  1. The websites namesake: the hot glue gun. You can make anything, anything, with a hot glue gun. Sure there are sometimes better adhesives for this-or-that purpose, but nothing beats a glue gun for versatility and ease. For all the 2nd-degree burns I’ve received and the uncleanable glue drips I’ve dropped, the glue gun will always by my go-to. If you are in a strange city and you don’t have a fully stocked craft closet, you can make pretty cool stuff by just glue gun-ing whatever found items together, eg:

    Designed by Jeha

    Designed by Puuikibeach

  2. Exacto knife: OK, so you can’t fly with this on your carry-on. But arriving with an Exacto knife, a pair of scissors, and a tube of Elmer’s is almost worth paying the (exorbitant) check-bag-fees. This is another tool where danger and versatility come together–I guess I’m a fan of the dangerous ones. But just try using Fiscars to cut as precisely  in tight areas, with tough materials, and you will see that a sharp Exacto knife wins hands-down. Plus, how else am I going to cut stencils? (And don’t say box cutters. Been there, done that, and I’m never going back.)

    Design by ChameleonHound

  3. Pliers. I try to bring a pair of needle-nose and a pair of jeweler’s pliers with me everywhere I go. If you don’t work with wire often, you can probably skip the jeweler’s pliers. But a good set of needle-nose pliers is just what the doctor ordered for snapping things, twisting things, poking things, squeezing things, and grabbing things. If you don’t have a pair I highly recommend getting one, even if you never work with wire. And if you do work with wire, well, you need no other tools.
  4. A needle kit, with all the crazy needles. Okay, so you’ll probably never use that needle that looks like a saber-tooth tiger’s teeth, but here are a few reasons you need a whole kit: embroidery thread, poking big or little holes in things, working with leather or cardboard or plastic, reaming and stringing beads, sewing (of course), tatting (more on that later), and poking creepy strangers on the subway. Plus, everyone knows that needles go missing all the time, so it is nice to have a few replacements at-the-ready (pro-tip: use a magnet on a stick to find needles buried in your carpet or in/under furniture). If you crochet, felt, or knit (I do), consider those needles included here. Safety-pins too.

    Saber-tooth Tiger Needles, AKA upholstery needles. You also probably will not need the sailmaker's needle, unless you are from the eighteen-hundreds aboard a whaling ship. If so, welcome to the Internet! If not, they would be a great go-to for poking creepy people on the subway.

    Saber-tooth Tiger Needles, AKA upholstery needles. You also probably will not need the sailmaker’s needle, unless you are from the eighteen-hundreds aboard a whaling ship. If so, welcome to the Internet!

  5. Scissors. Okay, everyone knows that this is essential  I don’t even really need to put it on here, because what sane person would pack crafting supplies and leave out the scissors? But I can’t leave it off either. Since everyone already knows how important they are and how to use them, here is a photo of a project made with scissors, rather than a project made with scissors.

    An art piece by Christopher Locke, made from TSA-confiscated scissors. It looks like something out of Tim Burton's nightmares, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

    An art piece by Christopher Locke, made from TSA-confiscated scissors. It looks like something out of Tim Burton’s nightmares, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

  6. Paint brush, I always pack at least one. I paint, but even if you don’t, a paint brush can be a workhorse for cleaning tiny scraps, spreading glitter, varnishing, applying Elmer’s, and generally applying things to other things. And even if you aren’t a “painter,” almost every DIYer finds themselves using paint sooner or later.
  7. Tape. This one is on the border between tools and supplies, but I’ll mention it because it is essential  Some people swear by duct-tape. An entire making-things-industry (set design) relies on rolls and rolls of gaffers tape. I personally love the clean look you get from using double-sided mounting tape. Whatever your crafting bent, there is a tape or two you should always keep in your craft kit.

    Check out Mark Jenkin's amazing packing tape sculptures

    Check out Mark Jenkin’s amazing packing tape sculptures

I may be forgetting something, because my craft kit always seems to include more than these seven things. Of course I always pack based on which projects I have lined up, so sometimes I end up with a one-trick-pony in my bag, like a pair of tile-cutters. And here is a philosophical question: where is the line between supplies and tools? A question for the ages.

Anthro I. Y.–Housewares edition

This article is a part of a series. In the last Anthro I. Y. article I looked at accessories you could make yourself, and I compared the price to buy at Anthropologie versus the price to make it yourself.

Price is not my only reason to DIY, and I hope it isn’t your only reason. Anthro charges a lot because, in addition to the item itself, you are also buying a bit of cache, some proof-of-good-taste. We imagine saying to a guest “oh, thanks for noticing my awesome dishtowels. You know, I got them at Anthropologie,” but as a lifelong DIYer, I am infinitely more impressed when someone answers, “thanks for noticing, I made them myself, that towel is of my own design.”

When you make something yourself, it becomes so much more personal and meaningful. Those silly porcelain animals glued to that vase weren’t mass produced in China, they are from your own post-college trip to Europe, or from that crazy thrift sale you and your friends went to that one time, or from your late grandmother’s collection. There is so much more room for stories to tell and stories to remember when the bits and images you surround yourself with are from your own mind’s eye or your own history.

With that in mind, here are a few Anthropologie housewares that you could easily, and much more meaningfully, make yourself.

1. Cornelis Souvenir Vase


The Cornelliss Souvenir Vase is an obvious target for personalization. Why would I want a vase covered in someone else’s souvenirs when I have plenty of my own lying around? Whether those souvenirs are ceramic or stoneware miniatures or sea shells doesn’t make a bit of difference, as long as the colors are right together and the stories behind the souvenirs are interesting.  Now if I were making this vase for myself, I would probably pick a different shape (I’m not a big fan of these short, wide vases), but that is the beauty of doing it yourself; the vase size and shape is not prescribed by designer Carla Peters (whoever she is).

2. Arctic Animal Pushpins


The same principle applies to the arctic animal pushpins. Do I have interesting small do-dads that I have collected through the years, and would I like to see those mounted on pushpins? Why yes, I would. I’ve seen this done to great effect with board game pieces, sea shells, buttons, porcelain miniatures (as in this case), and plenty of other interesting things. You are only limited by your own aesthetic.  All you need is some two-part epoxy and some flat-topped thumb-tacks. Here are a few examples of great knickknack-topped pushpins.


From BearDuck’s Etsy store. Anything could go onto your pushpins if you have some polyclay.


Scrabble pins from Naomi Marcus, and the image links to a tutorial.


Links to Martha Stewart tutorial.


These are not homemade, but they easily could be, especially given my sizable button collection.

3. Wide-Eyed Dishtowel


The Wide-Eyed Dishtowels are an easy artistic canvas. The simplistic line art is an easy target for replication or, dare I say it, elaboration. Get some fabric pens like these, or even sharpies would do the job (FYI purple sharpies notoriously bleed). With some boldly colored cotton dishcloths to use as canvases, this quick and easy art project can be something you use over and over for years.

4. Multiples Pencil Holder


Sometimes it isn’t the materials or ideas you use to make a project, but the time and creativity that goes into the making. This project is simple: you buy different width PVC or metal pipes, saw them to different lengths, glue them to a piece of wood and paint them in a variety of bold colors of the same general hue. If you don’t have a saw, you could even use cylindrical food canisters and cardboard tubes of various lengths, but it won’t look quite as professional. In the process of making you will create so many more memories and cultivate skills and creativity that you would not have if you simply bought it at a store.

For the Collector of Tiny Things

I can’t resist tiny things. I have a whole collection of tiny tea sets, another of tiny seashells, and a massive collection of beautiful pebbles I have picked up in my life time. Sometimes I find myself despairing at all of my tiny belongings. Where will I put all of them? What if I lose them? Why the hell did I collect them in the first place?

The truth is, nothing beats a tiny souvenir. I am a great lover of practical things, and tiny tea sets are anything but practical. But it is practical, when you are living out of a suitcase, to collect only things smaller than your pocket. It is practical not to clutter your life with cumbersome objects. And it is certainly economically practical to pick up a free volcanic pebble or quartz crystal or snail shell as a souvenir. Maybe I’m just making excuses, but boy do I love my tiny things.

Now, thanks to a friend, I finally know what to do with them, something much better than my current plan, which is to slowly lose them, one-by-one, as I continue to collect more. Check out this amazing tiny-thing bracelet:


Here is our material. Made of plastic mesh, it works something like a Chinese finger-trap, but to an extreme degree. Smoosh it and it gets fatter, stretch it and it gets thinner.


Its flexible size and transparency makes it perfect to display a tiny collection. I have assembled for you a sampling of tiny things to be enmeshed:


The first step is to cut a piece of less-stretchy string to fit around your wrist. The mesh changes in size and shape too much to attach a clasp, so you will be threading this string through the mesh and attaching it to the clasps on both sides.


You have two options with this type of bracelet: you can either scrunch your mesh wide to fill it with tiny things and then pull the mush tight to trap them in place, or you can separate each tiny object with a spacer: a decorative bead, a jump ring, or a crimping bead. Both look nice:


After you’ve filled it and pulled it tight, you can cut the tube to the size of your wrist. Then finish the ends in one of two ways: either use a ribbon-crimp bead to crimp the tube and string together, or use a regular crimping bead to close the  tube around a loose bit of the string and tie that loose bit to a clasp. Now, finally, I have a use for all these tiny rocks and shark’s teeth.


Can’t Quell my Quillin’

Quilling is the little known and (in my opinion) under-appreciated art of rolling and gluing colored papers. Also known as paper filigree, it was used by monks and nuns to decorate religious books during the renaissance, and in the 1800’s it was a craft for upper-class gentle ladies. Historically boring, but just look at the beautiful dimensionality, intricacy, and water-like flow of these modern quilled art works:


By Yulia Brodskaya, a Russian quilling artist.


Also Yulia Brodskaya


By Mezcraft


By Mezcraft

I’ve made many small quilling pieces, but here is my pièce de résistance, a ten-foot-tall tree that I spent entirely too long assembling.






Not a great picture, but here is the tree in our new room. I had to disassemble it branchlet by branchlet, and resemble it in a different configuration to make it fit.

Quilling can also be used to great effect for more design-oriented projects, such as monograms or amazing typography:


Yulia Brodskaya


Yulia Brodskaya






Mezcraft. I love how this series really shows the range of textures available with quilling.


By Erin Casner


By Erin Casner

Here is a simple tutorial for quilling your own masterpiece. You need colored paper for strips, glue, scissors, small cylindrical guides (eg. pencils, lollipop sticks, toothpicks, etc.), and a flat white piece of paper on which to glue everything. Cut half-inch strips of colored paper using a guide or a paper cutter. You could also buy pre-cut “quilling paper.” Run a scissor blade along the paper to start the curl, then wrap it around a guide. The smaller the guide and the longer you hold it on, the tighter your curl. Pour a very shallow puddle of glue into a bowl, and dip one edge of your paper in the glue. I use Elmer’s, but almost anything that dries clear will work. Set your curl on your flat paper according to your design, and hold it in the right place until the glue has stiffened enough (between ten and thirty seconds). Repeat for many, many curls. You can draw guides on your flat paper, or use a more free-handed approach.


My amazingly messy work-space, right in the middle of the main walkway into our room, for two solid weeks. It was like an alternately fragile and sticky obstacle course. My boyfriend is a saint.


Pro-tip: it is much better to do such things on a hard floor than on the carpeting. I was picking fluff out of the glue and glue out of carpet constantly.

Crafty Resolutions: 13 Crafts for 2013

I’ll be taking a few days off to celebrate the new year, and since I don’t want you to go hungry for crafting inspiration, here is a mega-post of everything I am inspired by for the upcoming year. Here are my 13 crafting resolutions for 2013:

1. Locate and Upcycle a Retired Piano

I’ve been wanting to locate a dumpster-bound piano ever since I read this sad story, and saw these beauties.

piano shelves




I couldn’t find crafting credits for any of these, but if you know who made them, let me know.

2. Grow some Green
No place is more dear to me than the silent and sunlight-dappled forests. As a child I roamed and explored them, as a teen I harbored secret fantasies of running away and living by my wits there, and now, if I ever need to calm myself or reconnect with what is important to me, these green mossy places are where I turn first. Nothing is more comforting than the smell of decomposing leaf-litter. I’ve wanted to bring the woods home with me for a long time, and these inspiring green walls and green globes (aka. “kokedama,” or moss ball, Tutorial here.) do the job quite elegantly.


This image links to instructions on DIYing your own green wall.


Green wall by Vancouver indoor


kokedama by liminalists


image from Florafocus, a Japanese site


Green Wall by

3. Light it Up
Nothing turns up the “wow” factor of a project more than working lights, and I would love to learn how to wire them up. Ok, so it doesn’t work for every project, and I’m not about to string up grandma’s doilies with LEDs, but for the right project, the ability to do simple wiring makes the results astoundingly beautiful.


Designed by superstinger.


Not only does this jellyfish hair clip light up, it also slowly changes color as you wear it. By AlysiaDynamik.



Light-up anglerfish nightlight by blupony808


Click the photo for a tutorial, written by msolex.

4. Learn Wire-Work
It may cost me my fingernails, but I would love to be able to make something as beautiful and detailed as this:

Wirework by Aliis

Wirework by Aliis

5. Have a Hand on 10% of my Closet
Most of my clothes are unaltered from the state in which I received them. The same is true for most people’s closets. But a personal thought, a sign of some time and care, and the knowledge that my clothes were (at least partially) hand made just for me really makes me feel a lot better when I look in the mirror in the morning. I would love to spend some time ravaging my closet with a needle and thread, some embroidery floss, and maybe some beads or appliques or a hot glue gun. Here are some alteration ideas I’m considering:


Bleach leaf prints. Links to a tutorial, from the Poetic Mapping blog.

carley tie dye shirt

Using sharpies to make tie-tie patterns on a t-shirt, with tutorial by TheartgirlJackie-tutorials.


Design by Zelaya

6. Learn to silkscreen
I feel quite sad that I don’t know how to silk screen. In fact, I don’t know how to do any printmaking. This has been on my list for a long time, but this year it is going to happen!

7. Build a rice paper room-divider screen
I love room-dividers, be they hangings, partitions, or fold-out dividers. They make a space seem cozy without cutting off light and air flow, and more importantly, they can be beautiful works of art. I’ve wanted to build a fold-out-divider for a while, and I am drowning in ideas for what to put on it. The woodwork involved is fairly basic, but I won’t kid myself that this will be a quick project. I’ll keep you updated with tutorials as this project progresses, but in the meantime here is some room-divider inspiration.


Credit unknown


Diane didn’t tell ApartmentTherapy how she attatched the pieces of stained glass to the discarded window panes she found, but I’ve done similar projects with good old-fashioned Elmer’s, and almost any glue that dries clear will work.


This is from the french blog,


Michelle Brand uses the flower-like bottoms of discarded water bottles to build curtains, room dividers, and structural elements.

8. Make some stuff with the kids
Most crafters started young. My dog-eared old copy of Childcraft’s Make and Do attests to this. Now that I am living in a household with two children (ages 8 and 3), I’d like to find some child-friendly crafts to foster their creative sides. At the same time, I try not to make stuff just for the sake of making stuff, so I would like to find some projects that wouldn’t just be thrown away after the making process was over. Here are some excerpts from Make and Do (click for a larger version).

SpoolTractor_Childcraft_MakeAndDo_Page299_Cropped 100_2743 il_fullxfull.48975116 il_fullxfull.48975286

9. Find a friend with a kiln
I love working with ceramics but I rarely get the opportunity because of the expensive equipment required to fire the finished piece. This year, I hope to find access to a kiln so I can make something like this:


By Bernie Track, a teacher at the Art Ranch.


This is from Linda Nowell, and the level of detail is astounding. Click for a step-by-step view of how she makes these.


Designed by Nathalie Derouet.

10. Build an instrument
I built a bowed psaltery a few years ago, and since then I’ve been toying with the idea of building a different instrument. Now, I’m no luthier. The patience and precision necessary to lay in frets gives me the heebie-jeebies. But this website has pre-fretted necks of a whole variety of instruments. I think a cookie-tin banjo might just be calling to me.


Image links to instructions. Credit unknown.

11. Knit a cape
After visiting Iceland I’ve been dying to replicate some of the fantastic knitted capes and capelets I saw there. The Icelanders are a stylish and beautiful race of knitters. Knitting is not considered an old lady craft there, either; it is taught in elementary school to every student, and men knit in sports bars while they talk about fixing cars. Everyone wears wool all the time, and there are easily more sheep than people on the island. Here are a few snippets of inspiration for the knitters reading:


From GiuliaKnit’s Etsy store.


From Solandia’s Etsy store

12. Make something out of butterfly wings
I always look at the ground when I am walking, and this habit has rewarded me with a fair-sized collection of gossamer butterfly wings. I’ve kept them safe, pressed in a book (Nabokov short stories, pressed in The Aurelian, a story about a doomed lepidopterist), but this year I want to find some creative way to preserve and display these delicate fragments. If you want some butterfly wings of your own, this site has quite a few for sale.

13. Pick a tree
I’m living in a city now, so my love of the forest has to be focused on the few individual trees I meet during my daily trips. I would like to pick one tree to notice every day, and each week I would like to produce an artwork or craft which was inspired of made from pieces of that tree. I want to explore both fine detail and gestalt, and this gives me a chance to really develop on an idea. In the meantime, here are a few inspiring pieces of tree-art.


One of many amazing pieces of woven tree and stick art by Patrick Dougherty.


Closeup of Horse Chestnut Bark, photographer unknown, found on the tree-species blogspot.


Tree Art by JessFox


Watercolor from CathyHillegas’s Etsy store

Fall Collection in Swing

When I was a little kid (see picture below, awwwww), my family had a great tradition. Every fall my brother and I would wander around the countryside and collect interesting or beautiful seed-pods, leaves, rocks, nuts, pine-cones, lichen, feathers, and whatever else we could find that caught our eye. My mom made us a special drawer in the living room hutch, and every day our collection would grow.

Lehua2 001

I dedicate this photo to goofy-looking kids everywhere.

Suddenly (to us), fall would turn into winter, and snow would be on the ground. Of course we immediately forgot about all of our beloved fall treasures in favor of snowmen and sleds. But in early December, my mom would bring out a big piece of cardboard, some staples, some glue, and a giant beeswax candle. She would gather us together and we would comb through our fall collection. We assembled a huge centerpiece with all the nuts and berries and seedpods of fall, and the beeswax candle would be in the middle of it all. And every night, before we kids went off to bed, everyone in the family would gather around the lit candle, in the dark, with a mishmash of cymbals and xylophones and toy pianos, and we would sing Christmas carols for hours. This is the childhood memory I prize most. To this day, beeswax is my favorite smell, and I still compulsively pocket every beautiful winged pod or perfect red-orange leaf I come across. In celebration of Christmas tomorrow, here are a few beautiful fall- and winter- centerpieces.


credit: ccarlstead, flickr


Credit: Jeha, Craftster


Credit: Bare Tracks, flickr


Credit: TraciReynolds, Flickr


Credit: Maggie Paggie Designs, Flickr

In Which I Eat One Billion Truffles

For you, dear reader, and in order to form a more perfect truffle for eating and gifting, I have taken it upon myself to make and consume forty-five truffles made with fifteen different recipes. I want to discover a recipe that is a) delicious, and b) does not lose emulsion when left at room temperature for seven days (to allow time for shipping as Christmas gifts). Let the experiments begin!

Ingredients to test:

I tried four different proportions of butter and cream (all cream, half-and-half, mostly butter, and all butter), five different types of cream (sweetened condensed, evaporated milk, canned table cream, cream cheese, and regular cream), three sweetener additives (honey, maple syrup, corn syrup), and three other kinds of additives (whiskey, canola oil, red wine). Other than the proportional experiments, all of the truffles were made with half cream and half butter as the base.

Basic Ganache instructions:

To make a ganache, chop your chocolate finely (I used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips). Melt your non-chocolate ingredients together on a stove until they just begin to simmer, stirring frequently (cream has a tendency to burn). At that point take it off the heat and pour your chopped chocolate in, as well as any alcoholic ingredients. Wait just a few seconds for the heat to penetrate the chocolate, then stir to combine.  Cool your ganache in the fridge until it is stiff enough to roll into balls, which you can do by hand or with a round teaspoon. Roll it in cocoa powder, cinnamon  chopped nuts, coconut flakes, hot cocoa mix, espresso powder, powdered sugar, spices, and any combination of these. Be sure to taste frequently as you go along.


Melt butter, cream, etc, til it simmers.


Remove from heat and pour in your chocolate.


Give it a second to melt.


Stir until emulsified.


Cool it in the fridge. At this point I started running out of bowls!

The results:

The best tasting fresh ganaches were red wine, honey, whiskey, and cream cheese. The half-butter-half cream mix was the best for richness and ease of rolling. After being left out overnight, most of the ganaches were still stable, but after three nights most of the emulsions had separated out and left the truffles with a chunky texture. Honestly it didn’t taste that bad, but we were going for a ganache that stayed smooth. At three and five days, the only smooth ganaches were made with 100% butter, mostly butter, and evaporated milk.  After seven days, only the full butter and evaporated milk truffles had maintained their texture. Unfortunately, the pure butter truffle tasted kind of like, well, eating pure butter. And the evaporated milk truffles had a distinct canned-milk taste. Perhaps the next round of experiments can incorporate some flavorants (honey, whiskey, vanilla) into the butter and evaporated milk mixtures.


Just a third of my pre-weighed chocolate, ready for ganaching!

The notable recipes:

For the all-butter recipe, use equal parts butter and chocolate.
For the mostly-butter recipe, use 13 oz butter, and add two tbsp cream.

All of the following were made as variations of the half butter/half cream base: 3.5 oz cream, 3.5 oz butter, and 10 oz chocolate. (3.5 oz is just under a half-cup, if you don’t have a scale handy)

For evaporated milk recipe, replace cream with evaporated milk.
For cream cheese recipe, replace cream with cream cheese, but also add two tbsp of cream.
For whiskey recipe, add two tbsp whiskey, or you can use any other alcohol here (vanilla, brandy, Grand Marnier, Kaluah, etc.)
For honey recipe, add two tbsp honey.
For wine recipe, replace half of the cream with red wine, but add the red wine when you add the chocolate.

Anthro I.Y. – Accessories Edition

This is the first of many Anthro I. Y. columns that will point out great stuff from Anthropologie that you could easily, and cheaply, make yourself.

Anthropologie sells more than cute and elegant bits and baubles. To sell their beautiful and overpriced merchandise, they sell you on an entire lifestyle. If you’ve ever been in their store you know that they have this down to an art. Walking through their wooden double-doors feels like you could be walking into your home, if only you were awesome, creative, had great taste and also a summer home in Maine. Everything they sell fits into an ethos of creative and artistic faux-crafty or faux-antique. They market to people who love the DIY aesthetic but don’t actually have the time or inclination to do it themselves. But you, dear audience, you do things yourself all the time. Why lust after the (admittedly well conceived) fake-DIY of Anthropologie when we could easily replicate the look ourselves? Here are a few of the projects I saw on their online catalog that could be easily replicated for a fraction of the price.

1. The Dahlia Fascinator


I start with this one because it has the MOST outrageous price of any of the accessories I found. Lets take it apart. Dahlia Fascinator =
+ big: 3.99, huge: 12.99                     + Silk Dahlia
+ 1.49                                                 + Purple Netting
+ 1 for 4.99 or 5 for 8.99                    + Black/green cock feathers
+ 5 for 4.99 or 1 silk for 4.99              + A headband
+ 0.06                                                 + half a stick of hot glue, maybe

= between 8.33 and 24.52                = the “quirky, artsy-girl” look

2. The Fay Feathered Headband


This one isn’t sooooo ridiculously priced. Granted, you could still make it for a fraction of the cost, but materials would probably take more work and more money to round up than the materials for the Dahlia Fascinator. The Fay Feather Headband is made of:
black head band
+    6.99                 + brown ostrich feather (trimmed to a point)
+    7.99                 + some glass beads or an old brooch, possibly from a thrift store
+    0.06                 + half of a hot glue stick
+    5 for 4.99         + a headband
=                            = probably a more interesting headband, especially if the brooch has a story.

3. Dock Line bracelet

docklines bracelet
Step one: Find some old string or leave some hemp or cotton out in the rain and mud for a little while. You could also just soak it in coffee or black tea for a bit. Step two: Gather about ten chords around two inches long, and twist them haphazardly. Step three: Tie on both ends of the bundle with two other pieces of string. Tie a knot on the end of those, and tie them together in a tight slipknot. If you want to get fancy, you could tie a macrame knot instead, as Anthro does. And if you want your rope bracelet to be legitimately awesome, way cooler than anything from Anthropologie, check out this book of sailor’s knotwork and skip on down to chapter 7.

4. Mint Chill Earrings

Here you have a few options. You’ll want to find metal drops and gold plated hooks (5.99/4 pairs), which are available at any craft or bead store (and here is a kit for 5.99). You will also need green and blue glass beads (1.99), turquoise chips (4.99), and glitter (2.49 for the whole thing, but you’ll only use a few cents worth). The options are how to attach the beads to the metal. I would recommend applying a thin coat of two-part epoxy and then using a toothpick to apply the individual beads. Another option is with wax, which you could easily melt with a hair drier to soften. The biggest problem with this option is: how often do you get hot? How hot is your climate? I’m sure you can see why that is an issue. Total cost to make: 16.25, with some beads left over.

5. Chunky knit/crochet hats: Mathilde and Trapper

Mathilde trapper
As a knitter, I always scoff a little when I see a string this chunky  The needles used to knit this are so large that a beginner, brand spanking new to knitting or crocheting, could finish this in a few hours. Here is some yarn that would work well (5.49; 7.99, get at least two skeins), a pair of size 13 or 14 of needles (4.99), and some patterns: for knitters, or for crocheters.

6. Nightingale Fringed Cowl

Here is another fantastic knitting project for a beginner. If you just learned how to knit and pear, this cowl is just a 30″ x 11.75″ rectangle, two rows knit, two rows pearl, two rows knit, two rows pearl, etc. Use a thinner yarn and a finer needle (8 or 9?), and I recommend getting at least three skeins. Don’t forget some nice buttons. On the edge, tie a fringe using a slipped square knot:

7. Vera iPhone Cover

I think it looks a little tacky, but if this is your cup of tea, it is quite easy to replicate.
Vera Jeweled iPhone Case=
2.82               Blank white iPhone case
3.99 x 2       +Adhesive rhinestones (or non-adhesive, in which case you also need epoxy or hot glue.) You could even one-up Anthro and use real Swarovski crystals.

Total, we would have spent $676.00 at Anthropology. Making it ourselves, we spent $105.00. Plus, our stuff is actually cooler, and it all has a real personal creative touch instead of Anthropologie’s trademark faux-personal faux-creative touch.

A Love Letter to Elmer(s)

I find myself thinking about Elmer constantly. Every time I bind a book, Elmer is there with me. When I break a beloved knickknack, I hope that Elmer is near to help me recover. As long as I craft, I will always reach for Elmer first. It isn’t Elmer Fudd that gets my stuff stickin’, it is the good old-fashioned Elmer’s school glue I grew up with that I love. It was my first adhesive, my very first craft crush. I can still recall when we first met, in kindergarden when my teacher taught me to press one piece of paper onto another and hold it for thirty seconds to make it stick. That thirty seconds was all it took for me to consider all of the possibilities. I now had the power to stick one thing onto another thing.

Since those heady elementary school days, I’ve met other adhesives. In middle school I laid my hands on my first glue gun, and I won’t pretend that it wasn’t wonderful. When I was introduced to epoxy I felt light-headed (or it might have just been the fumes). But a dense fog of nostalgia colors all my thoughts of Elmer’s glue. Here are a few Elmer’s crafts to salivate over and perhaps make myself, some day soon.


Click the photo for a tutorial. Designs by Ruche.


Cut tiles with tile-cutters, then glue the pieces to an old window with Elmer’s. When the project is complete, fill the cracks with grout. According to my mosaic-making teacher, Elmer’s is unsurpassed for transparency. An excellent way to make a stained glass window without investing in soldier supplies, but be forewarned that it is amazingly time consuming. Design by Monte J. Gennai.


A full post about quilling will be up soon. In the mean time, whet your apetite with this beauty, designed by Mezcraft.


Paper mache antler. The strongest formula for paper mache is one part Elmer’s to one part water. Click the image for a tutorial on making these antlers. Design by erdbeerblau.

You can find a tutorial by clicking on the photo. Designs by Alisonwonderland.

You can find a tutorial by clicking on the photo. Designs by Alisonwonderland.


These amazing vintage Star Wars shoes were actually made with Modge Podge, but any good crafter knows that Modge Podge is a thinner version of the same adhesive (PVA), and can be replicated by adding a little water to some Elmer’s GlueAll. Design by Benaequee.