Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hand-made Holiday Ornaments

Let's hope none of the recipients of these Christmas gifts read this entry... hehehe. For the rest of you, here are the results of my "Advanced How-to Hand-made Ornaments Class." As you can see, you can get pretty elaborate. The pink ornaments (nicknamed "Princess") was made using a faux pearl necklace that had fallen apart. (Invest in a good pair of metal clippers. They're invaluable for crafting.)

The purple and white (for my mother-in-law) was made entirely of recycled materials, many found on Etsy.

The pale blue was made with recycled trim from BethQuinnDesigns. The only new items in each were the pins and the styrafoam. Even the silver beads I pulled off an old necklace. Oh, how smug I can feel today.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How-to: Hand-made Ornaments

My grandmother, Ladybug, made so many gorgeous hand-made ornaments that we now have two huge boxes labeled "Ladybug's Ornaments" at the house. And it wouldn't be Christmas without those sparkling treasures. Although hers, and now mine, involve both recycled as well as new elements, you can make your own ornaments using almost all recycled materials.

You'll need:
recycled narrow ribbon (several pieces of about three yards)
one round or egg-shaped styrafoam form (you can find these used, or at Michael's)
a box of straight pins
glue gun

Begin with narrow ribbon you have (of course) saved from prior gift-giving. In the photo, you can see the color-coordination--in this case green and yellow--but you can do multi-colored for a more playful look. Other ideas are silver and white, gold and brown, or bright mixtures, like orange and turquoise. And, red is always appropriate for the holidays.

Fiddle around with the ribbons; I like to pin one end of a ribbon, and begin to wind it around the form just to see where it goes. See how it would be if you did one loop, or two or more. Add another color and see how they look together. Each time you made a circle, fasten with a strait pin. This way, you can take it out and start over until it looks right to you. Wrap the ribbon so it overlaps slightly with the loop beside it. Wrap with ribbon unitl the entire globe is covered. Once it is, add whatever decoration you like: sequins, beads, and ric-rack work well. Once it's done, make a ribbon loop and attach to top with a glue gun AND a pin or two.

My other ornaments now involved beading, left-over or recycled trims (find some good ones at Green Trims on Etsy) and the occasioanl glue gun use. Most end up about sixty percent recycled materials. Not too bad, for holiday gift-giving.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Less Waste at the Holidays

Here's an idea for a zero-impact holiday gift: yummy food items in used containers. Sounds great, huh? OK, it sounds like you're giving someone an old can of beans. But, it can be lovely and tasty to give green this season.

First, visit a resale shop, like Good Will, Salvation Army, or locally in the Bay, Urban Ore, or Out of the Closet.

Purchase some great mason jars with lids (it's OK if they are the half-lids; just use a fabric square to cover your goodies). You can also choose used holiday tins, or other creative containers, like muffin tins (great for home-made candies) or bread-loaf pans that you can bake a loaf of gingerbread in.

Then; make something special! Pictured are mom Mom's famous candy nuts:

2 C mixed or single-type pecans, walnuts, almonds, macadamias
1/2 C sugar
2 T butter
1 t salt
1 t vanilla
Melt butter in a metal (not iron) pan. Add nuts. Add sugar. Carmelize. Add salt and vanilla, and pour onto a plastic cutting board. Break apart. They'll be very hot!

Add a ribbon or a fabric square to deocrate your gift, and voila! Green giving!

Friday, December 7, 2007

How To make a BOX WREATH -Part 3

A note on this series: I will make a single listing after all posting are completed with all photos.

Part 3: Get out your pins and your glue gun. Clear a large space, and set down your wreath form, surrounded by the large size wrapped boxes.
Angling each box so that one short end touches the table on the outside of the wreath (see photo) attach large boxes all around with long straight pins. Then do the same with the boxes touching the table on the inside of the wreath. Each box corner should touch on the inside round. You should have a base when completed.

Now, begin to layer the presents going largest to smallest. Place each one and then glue it. Make sure the distribution is even. Don't be stingy! (See close up-photo). You want to have quite a build-up of presents. It looks best on present-overload.

You may run out of boxes... make more.
Then once all the boxes are on, add some toys and little festive elements. See the photo for some examples. But, good additions are miniture wooden toys, little gold or silver instruments, tiny wooden alphabet blocks spelling out names or greetings, and jingle bells.

When it is complete, it should look something like this! More pictures and a full blog entry with complete instructions to come.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Amazing Fashion Event in San Francisco!

I have been invited to show my handbag collection at this event!
Pease come by!

Chillin' Presents
Saturday December 1, 2007
60 Fashion Designers
80 Artists
40 Filmmakers
Music by:
KrisX, Russell Vargas, Laron, didje Kelli, Dirtyhertz, Taj and Dave Madix

Where: Mezzanine (444 Jessie Street) (
When: Saturday Dec. 1 from 8:00pm -2:00am
Cover: $6 before 10:00pm $7 after
Must be 21+ ID

Monday, November 12, 2007

How To make a BOX WREATH -Part 2

Are all your little boxes wrapped and the smallest of them ribboned? Takes a while--don't do it all in one day.

After you have many (about 100 boxes in various sizes) wrapped, separate them by size. The largest of your boxes will be the base, and the medium the second layer, on up.

Now you will need:
one round styrafoan wreath form (any size) covered with ribbon (so that it looks pretty and will last a long time)
a box of silver small-headed straight pins
hot glue gun
extra boxes (wrapped or not)
little decorations (such as tiny jingle bells, little alphabet blocks, or decorative "toys")

To wrap your wreath form in ribbon, use a solid color, like white or red. I think plain, inexpensive non-wired ribbon of about 1 inch thickness works best. Using a straight pin, fasten one end of your ribbon to the form. Then wrap the ribbon around the form, overlapping with each roatation. (See photo--this is a aquare form, but the idea is the same). Once you have wrapped the entire form, secure the last pice with another pin. You should only have to use two or three pins to wrap the wreath--the fewer the better.

I suggest leaving a ribbon tail for hanging. Fold it back and forth and secure it with another pin to the back of the form.

Next week we'll be ready to build the wreath!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

How to make a BOX WREATH -Part 1

Each Halloween, my mom and I get DOTS candy and my father eats them all. Then we wrap up those little boxes for our CHRISTMAS BOX WREATHS. OK, so we're instigating the future recycling, but you can also use the boxes make-up pencils come in, matchboxes or small jewelry boxes.

You need A LOT of boxes, so what we do is keep a bag in the closet and each time a small box comes our way, we put it in there. The largest boxes you need (for the base) should be about the size of a cigarette box, and the smallest (for the top) about the size of a Dots box (2.5 x 1.25 x 0.75).

We also save small leftover bits of wrapping paper. Plain paper or paper with a very small print works best. When you tear open your presents this year, don't throw out the paper--look for tape and rip-free scraps big enough to cover those little boxes. And, of course, save your ribbon. I shouldn't even need to say THAT!

The first step the the BOX WREATH of your dreams is to cover all those little boxes with paper. The large base boxes don't need ribbon. Get to work, and Part 2 will be here in a week!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Crazy Quilts

Crazy Quilts aren't recycling, in that you're not usually using post-consumer products. But you do use the scraps of projects that you would otherwise throw away. Inspired by a piece of one of my great grandmonther's crazy quilts that has been framed, I kept all the scrap pieces from the wedding purses I have made over the past year. Now, I have made a crazy quilt wedding purse. (Perfect for a green bride).

Have scraps? Have embroidery thread? You're all set.

You can use a backing fabric (and sew each irregular shaped piece to the backing fabric) but I did without. Using a machine or handstitching, piece your scraps together. (It's OK if they don't fit exactly together, you can cut them down, or sew them with uneven seam allowances). One way to make a "pattern" is to group your pieces by similar color. Mine is all white and cream colored pieces. You can also simply go "crazy" and sew them together any which way. Once you have a large enough piece of quilt, add interfacing or a backing--a perfect place to use recycled fabric (such as from a dress that has had too many wearings). The next step is to embroider.

Although many machines have decorative stitching, true crazy quilts are hand-embroidered. Simple patterns will do, but change your color or your pattern with each turn of the quilt. This is what makes it a true crazy quilt. Some beginner pattern ideas are: stars, small flowers, zig-zag patters, swirls, or overlapping loops. My first ideas for my own embroidered designs came from textiles. Look to your fabrics for great embroidery ideas. And, if all else fails, you can find books on embroidery at Go crazy!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's hard to recycle on Halloween...

These are the things you can recycle on halloween: your costumes (a bear? No, I'm a MONKEY this year) your candy serving bowls (don't give in to those evil Crate and Barrel sales) your decorations (don't buy new ones unless something is broken; it's all the same stuff every year anyhow--but more on this later).
So, no recycling tips today yet. But, a great idea for pumpkin carving! (Don't let those poor pumpkins rot in their patches; if they're already picked, they might as well be carved!) This is an adoarable pumpkin made last year by my friend Yvonne. On it, she has carved "boo" in adorable rounded letters. Another idea is to carve your house number into your pumpkin so that local children know you're open for business.

And... remember that White Elephant Sale? Great place to get new (used) holiday decor! What's old is always new again in the holiday decoration world.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Ultimate in Recycling

This is my baby... Sassy. She is the ultimate in recycling. I got her from the East Bay SPCA. I found her through VirtualPetAdoptions and she has been the love of my life ever since... and of my husband's as well. She was a show cat (and man, does it show). But now, she just shows off for us. Buy a recycled pet!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Creative recycling at the de Young Museum

If you live in San Francisco, you may already be turned on to Friday Nights at the deYoung. It's five dollars, there's a no-host bar, and live music... and creative recycling! This activity is great for kids, but they let anyone do it.

Using their left-over flyers, old catalogues, magazines, etc., and glue sticks, the de Young volunteers create a collage heaven. Here are two examples from a recent night at the de Young... and here's a shout-out to them for creatively recycling.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Business Cards... possible to recycle??

Well, like all entrepeneurs (wow, I can't belive I called myself that) I need a busness card. A fabulous crafty friend has designed an awesome card for me. I'll post her design as soon as they're printed.

But... how can you recycle AND print something new? It's a bit unprofessional to have old writing on the back of your cards... not to mention confusing. This is what we did. My friend had some 8 1/2 by 11 card stock that was cut into squares. Now, what was left was just under the height of business-cards. Ta-da! So, if you want to leave a light footprint, look for materials that otherwise would be recycled, and use them for your projects. My business cards will be a centimeter or two shorter (perhaps to match my own stature?) but, the paper will be free, and I won't have to cut down any more trees.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Get rid of it--and recycle!

So, it's not spring cleaning, but we're doing some home renovations and I'm getting rid of a bunch of JUNK. Now, even I can admit when something is JUNK. Old pieces of rotting wood, wood with a bunch of nails in it, a table that's completely fallen apart. I see it; I know I can't fix it. It's junk.

So, I have the Junk General come pick up all my junk. And---they recylce it for me! Now, of course, this comes at a price. But, it's like $100. Not too shabby... or, well... you know.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

News from the Recycling Front

Everyone already knows that San Francisco and California are recycling green zones, but I didn't know quite how many cool places there are out there for finding cool crafts--used.

A friend told me about Scrap, the Scrounger's Center for Reusable Art parts. They are currently having a competition for who can make the most interesting stuff out of old Barbies. That's how fun they are. This is also a great place to find things that I wasn't sure I COULD find recycled, such as meegnetic snap closures, and metal rings and small chains for handles.

And, while I'm mentioning the coolest ever places to get crafty recycled items, I might as well mention the White Elephant Sale. This place is unbelievable. If you've never been, you must go simply because it's THE Bay Area Recycling Event (as the name implies). An especially great place for new home owners to find everything from inexpensive art and frames to a wok and a dining room table, it's also fantastic for crafters. They not only have a sewing and notions section (about the size of a regular store front) but they also have tons of used clothing, a great place to find buttons, fabrics, and forms to use in your own sewing.

Doesn't recycling make us feel good?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What is post-consumer recylcing, anyway?

There are lots of ways to recycle. You can re-use the paper bags Trader Joe's loads your groceries in as trash or recycling bags. You can re-purpose that footstool with the spilled-on upholstery and make it into a cat bed. Those things are wonderful. But, they're not post-consumer recycling.

Post-consumer recycling is when you find or buy something that someone else has purchased, then discarded. Then, you use it.

Re-use or re-purpose is when you have something that you own, and instead of throwing it out, you use it again in a different way.

There are also a few gray areas. If you are given something that someone else purchased that would otherwise have been thrown away, is that post-consumer? I say yes. If you buy fabric samples that were never purchased by a consumer, but were indeed used, is that post-consumer? Not really, but I think it counts the same.

The purse in the photo, which I made for a friend with a camping-themed wedding, is made of some post-consumer recylced materials. The bandana, the handles and the patch are re-purposed; the interior is recycled. Is it all clear now?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

So this is me

This photo was taken by my darling husband. We were in Boulder, Colorado, visiting my friend Jenn and her husband, Justin. He caught Jenn and I in one of our famous moments of hilarity. We have so much fun together, that even after four days living in the same home with two wives, two husbands, two dogs, and one cute and crazy cat, we were still sad to say goodbye. Aren't those the best of friends? The ones you can laugh and laugh with, and to whom you are never ready to say goodbye?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Why do I use recycled materials?

It's not really about saving the planet, or making a green utopia for my future children. I use recycled and repurposed materials in my purses because it makes every one unique. And, I repurpose furniture that I already have (as much as possible) because hey, furniture is expensive. I remember when my husband first found out what couches cost. Ha! He said, "what? how could that BE?" I gave him the all-knowing wife look. "Please. We're talking about a huge piece of furniture," I said. "But, but--thousands?" His incredulity lasted all afternoon.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Isn't it amazing how we get better and better at things? I mean, the first purse I made was for a seven-year old, and she didn't mind that the seams were wonky and that the glue I used to put the ribbon on showed at the edges. She was ecstatic. And so was I. Now, though, I have a whole new level of accomplishment.

Above is the newest Ladybug San Francisco bag, and it's like, almost perfect. I mean, we always have to have someplace to go, right? But it's pretty darn lovely. I couldn't be more pleased. And, do you waht to know the best part? It's made of 90% recycled materials. I know, how did she DO it???

Well, I'll tell you. I found the fabric (well--it was a dress. A nice enough dress, but a bit odd) at one of the Crossroads Trading Company stores in San Francisco. (I think the best one is on Haight, but I went to the Irving Street one). And the interior fabric had it's first life as a lavender pillow (I'm off lavender pillows for awhile). The base is recycled cardboard and the interfacing isn't used, per se, but I did get it second-hand... that totally counts. The new bits are the lovely chain and the interior magnetic snap closure. And, ta-da, 90% recycled materials. I feel full of the new environmentalist movement.

But, looking at this lovely purse, I know that a few months from now, I will think, "oh, that old thing?" And, I'll be on to another, better, more perfect purse. And that's the way it goes in crafting. Semper Fi; Ever Better.

Etsy has Everything

Etsy is a website most crafters know about; they have individual shops where hand-made goods are sold. Much of what is on Etsy is one-of-a-kind. Which is wonderful. And, you can find most anything there.

When I was a child, I had an obsession with magnets that looked like food. My mother bought the hand-made magnets from an African-American man who lived on the street in Berkeley. We had a hamburger magnet, we had several chocolate truffle magnets, we had a banana, a cherry, and inexplicably, a broccoli magnet. But my favorite magnet was the giant taco. It was a hard shell corn taco, and it was overflowing with lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes. A little sour cream smudge graced one edge. I don't know what it wa about this taco, but I loved to look at it, and play with it, and on special occassions, try to feed it to the cat. When the taco was knocked off the fridge, and broke in half, I cried all night. And I was like twelve by then. Way too old for crying over broken magnets.

Well, I hadn't though of those food magnets that graced my childrenhood fridge for years. Probably, for over fifteen years. And then, in one moment, there they were on Etsy. My food magnets. And that's what's so great about Etsy.

Friday, September 28, 2007

From Shabby to Chic

So, my whole purpose in life is to find old junk and turn it into fancy-shmancy fabulous-looking things. I started small. I found a black, wrought iron candelabra with a chain for hanging, on the sidewalk near my old apartment in the Marina District of San Francisco. I liked the look of it. It was ugly, and rusty, and clearly someone had thrown it out, but I was going to love it. When I got it home, I decided on its new look: antique white.

Now, I must insert here that this all happened before I knew that spray paint and its sisters, VOC and Cancer Paint, were bad for you. So, I found a lovely crackle-white spray paint. And boy, did it go crackle! I loved the look. Of course, it stank, and don't tell my old landlord, but I got it all over the roof. But, it graced the ceiling of my apartment for two years quite beautifully. And that's where it began: my junking habit. My husband calls it my "trash" habit, but who asked him, anyways?

Now, I have found many wonderful (and free!) items on the streets. I have found a sewing table, a set of two overstuffed chairs, a rocking chair, a set of two oversized iron-cage candle holders, a tall, beveled hallway mirror, and two side tables. Each of these has been restored, re-painted, re-purposed, and has found a place in my home. The above example is a chair I found (for free!) across the street, which has become the chair to match my sewing table.

Of course, there was the one item that got away. It was a Louis XIV chair (imitation, most likely) and when I saw it, it was sitting beside a dumpster in Golden Gate Park, right near Stowe Lake, where I was walking with my husband and my brother.

I ran to it. It was water damaged, yes, its wood was unevenly stained, sure, but it called out to me. Save me. Please, can't you see I deserve better than this metal dumpster? Better than this muddy lawn my beautifully carved feet are sinking into? I touched its arm, to reassure it that I knew exactly what to do.

And then, my brother came up behind me. "Don't touch that! Are you crazy? That's like a drug addict's chair or something."

He took my arm and steered me back to the pathway. "No, no, I want to take it home," I said.

"Don't touch that again, OK? You can get a disease," my brother said. My husband stood by mutely. He had learned to let me pick up whatever "trash" I wanted to.

"It's beautiful," I said.

"It's junk." I looked to my husband. My brother, you see, is much bigger than I am, and can stop me from doing things he doesn't want me to do. My husband usually doesn't, because I can make his life miserable. But my brother doesn't live with me anymore. He can piss me off and blissfully leave the house, then call a week later when I've forgotten all.

My husband sided with my brother. "Yeah, I don't know. You don't know where that's been."

It was a Louis XIV. I knew where it had been. In a grand hall, beside a mirror-fronted dresser and a huge bouquet of pale pink roses. It belonged in my home. I stood my ground, but they are larger than I am. They dragged me back to the path, and I tried to be cheerful as we continued our walk home.

But I was never cheerful again--at least not when I saw a Louis XIV chair. Then, I was sad. For it could have been mine.