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Let’s Get Down to Business

26 Jun

The good news: business is picking up! I feel like I’ve been giving out my business cards left and right.

The bad news: my business cards are terrible, ugly, no-longer-correct VistaPrint freebies. Giving out my business card is always accompanied by a pang of shame.

What it all means? Time to make myself some sick business cards.

So I called my mom and asked her to dig out my old Print Gocco, a super-cool small-scale Japanese home screen printing system. 

I started by drawing out my design in pencil:

Then, I went over it with a carbon-containing pen:

I picked up some business card blanks in a few different colors at Paper Source

… burned and inked my screen…

… and got to printing!

And I’m in business!



Portrait-Robot de Melody

25 May
I love organized clutter. It is perhaps the most inherent aspect of my aesthetic ethos. Artfully arranged collections of interesting objects. It comes as no surprise then, that one of my very favorite modern artists is Arman. His portrait-robots being the works I find most compelling.

Portrait-robots, as he called them, were works made up of personal objects discarded by the subject. Essentially, garbage in a box, hung on the wall.

Portrait-Robot de Daniel Spoerri, 1962

Portrait-Robot d’Elaine, 1962

Aren’t they lovely? His early portrait-robots were small, later pieces grew to be quite large.

Portrait-Robot de Jacques de la Villegle, 1965

Portrait-Robot d’Arman, 1992

Ever since I learned about him in an art history class a few years ago I’ve been thinking of making my own. And now, looking back on his, I wish I had the time, space, and resources to take it further. But for now, my little shadow box will do.

About a year ago I began saving all my fiber scraps from projects, which make up most of my Portrait-Robot de Melody, along with a few other small objects I have no practical use for. A pair of broken sunglasses, empty thread spools, dried flowers, shells I picked up at the beach, packaging materials, various found objects.

I purchased a shadow box, which was conveniently backed with foam I could pin into. And using straight pins, I simply pinned my objects into a pleasing arrangement.

Spring Harvest

15 Apr
Flower pressing. Who even does that anymore? Old frilly spinsters? Star-crossed lovers? Laura Ingalls Wilder?
There’s something really lovely about flower pressing, I think. Who can help but sigh when opening up an old book and rediscovering last spring’s violets? What is not to love about preserving one of nature’s most beautiful, fleeting gifts in a piece of artwork to be enjoyed for years to come? Spring is upon us, the dogwoods and lilacs are in bloom, and this is your chance to steal a little everlasting springtime for your home.
What You’ll Need:
Freshly picked flowers and/or foliage
White vinegar
Flower press or heavy books and two sheets of paper
Paper for backing
Acid-free glue
Sealer (I used Modge Podge)
1. Help yourself to some of the beautiful spring bounty. Keep in mind that the denser and bulkier the flower, the more difficult it is to press.
2. Dip your pickings in a bit of white vinegar and allow them to dry completely before pressing. This step is optional, but helps your flowers and leaves to keep their vibrant colors.
3. If you don’t have a flower press, you are in good company. A healthy book collection is just as effective. Open up a book, place a sheet of paper on top of the page you open to and lay your flowers on that paper. This is the most critical step to the quality of your pressings. Carefully arrange your flowers so that they will flatten in an attractive manner and avoid overlap. Any flowers that overlap here will be forever stuck together just as you leave them, so this will limit your possibilities when it comes time to mount them. Place a second sheet of paper on top of your flowers. Sandwiching your flowers between two sheets of paper will protect the pages of your book from stains that flowers could leave behind. Gently close the book and weigh it down, placing it at the bottom of a pile of books.
4. I would leave your flowers to press for a few days at the very least, longer if the flowers are dense, roses for example. But you can also leave them in this stage for years if you want to.
5. When you are ready to mount them, they may stick to them paper you pressed them in between, so be very careful when uncovering them. 
6. Arrange your pressings on a backing paper until you are satisfied with your composition.
7. Dab tiny spots of acid-free craft glue (such as Sobo) on the paper where you want to mount your flowers, and gently press them onto the glue. For small pieces you may even want to use tweezers.
8. Using a small flat or filbert-tip paintbrush, gently seal your pressings by painting a thin, even coat of sealer (like Modge Podge) over the entire page.
9. Let dry. If the glue causes your paper to warp and roll, you may want to return your finished piece to the book for a final pressing. 
10. Frame, hang and marvel!
All the best,

The Hunt

10 Apr
I’ve been thinking a lot about affecting an aesthetic shift towards the rustic lately. When I moved into my first apartment I was really excited about a sort of 1950’s/mod aesthetic and a lot of that is still clearly visible in my home’s common space, despite the evolution of my taste in home decor. My terrarium and mossy accessories were among my first steps towards bringing a little bit of forest into my home. 
Between my work with sculptor Petah Coyne, my time as a farmhand, and my general love for animals I have developed a fascination with all things dead and decaying. Every time I see a mounted piece of taxidermy at the flea market or in a curiosities shop or hanging on the wall of a bar or restaurant, I always linger thinking, “I want that…” But it never seemed fit to splurge on a deer head given my tight finances.
Then, a couple weeks ago I was browsing through a couple catalogs that showed up in my mailbox, and in West Elm I spotted some mounted animal head papier-mache sculptures and I thought, “Hey, maybe I could make one!”
Of course, while I was thinking about this and not acting upon it, I stumbled upon some good fortune at my family Seder last weekend. We were at my aunt and uncle’s home in Madison, NJ. My Aunt Lynn often finds deer antlers in the woods and has incorporated them into the chandelier in the dining room and we all got to talking about the antlers. At that moment I looked past my cousin across the table and out the door to the patio and noticed an incredible stag skull sitting on the step. I asked Aunt Lynn if she had plans for it and she told me about how she watched the vultures, waited for them to clean the carcass, and followed them through the woods to find it. So she (understandably) didn’t want to part with her prize.
But then she offered me a pair of antlers given to her by a friend and hunter which I was thrilled to accept in place of the skull.
So my new antlers and I headed back to the big city. In lieu of a fancy wooden plaque to mount them on, I whipped up a simple little something to act as a plaque visually with just some cardboard, fabric and glue.
Aren’t they wonderful?!
Happy hunting!


Obsession: Moss

2 Apr
If you thought I was going to make one little terrarium and stop there, you’re kidding yourself.
I mean, there I was, me and all my glass bottles and my new-found friend, preserved reindeer moss (a.k.a. the coolest shit ever). Seriously, it makes everything magical. Like candlesticks. Magical enchanted forest candlesticks.
Preserved reindeer moss
Enchanted forest candlestick
What You’ll Need:
Taper candles
Clear glass bottles
Stuff to put inside them, for example:
Reserved reindeer moss, of course
Dried beans
Dried flowers

Okay, so, this isn’t brain surgery. Put cool stuff in a bottle, then put a candle in it and you have a totally rad candlestick.
My candlesticks!
Root mass inside my flip-top candlestick
Dried beans, soil, and moss in a salad dressing shaker
Moss holds the candle in place
But why stop there? What about votives in jars?

Move aside, Tinkerbell. There’s a new fairy in town.

Terrarium Fever!

2 Apr
Things I love: plants, dioramas, miniatures, glass jars. Given this information, I ask you: how am I to resist this terrarium fad?!
I simply cannot.
I was in Sprout Home the other day because Google told me it was the closest garden nursery to my home. What I didn’t know is that they host massively popular terrarium-building classes, and the majority of their interior space panders to terrarium builders. I came for some pretty flowers to put in a pot on my patio table and I left with an overwhelming need to build a whole slew of irresistibly adorable living dioramas.
And it just so happens that I have a (perhaps excessive) collection of glass jars and bottles just begging me to be transformed into tiny enchanted forests.

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be a terrarium expert, so I will just give you some of the basics and show you what I did. There are plenty of great resources out there to guide you through all your terrarium adventures and misadventures. I would recommend starting with an online image search and/or a visit to Sprout Home to see some terrariums and get inspired. There are a lot of different styles and options; your terrarium is your very own mini world and as long as the plants inside it require approximately the same amount of moisture, you can do pretty much whatever you want.
The primary distinction is open or closed.
An open terrarium is left open to the air; a closed terrarium is sealed. A closed terrarium is only appropriate for a rainforest-variety climate and creates a self-sustaining environment as the moisture in the soil evaporates into the air, condenses on the walls on the container and returns to the soil, so these guys don’t actually need to be watered. Rainforest flora can be kept in an open terrarium, too, but they will require watering. Succulents and cacti should always be kept in an open terrarium.
For my terrarium, I wanted a lush forest with a miniature animal or two to call it home. I wasn’t satisfied with Sprout Home’s figurine collection, but there is a lovely shop down the block, Moon River Chattel, that has (among so many other beautiful things) a nice collection of high quality animal figurines. I came home with a particularly handsome black bear whom I absolutely adore.
Isn’t she precious?
Things You’ll Need:
Glass container
Moss (for lush scapes)
Small plants
Figurines, sticks, shells, small objects, etc.

For my forest I chose miniature ferns and hypoestes, baby tears, and a fern moss. Explore the options and your local nursery and ask the attendants there if you are unsure. For moss I used a combination of live moss and preserved reindeer moss.
1. Cover the bottom of your container with a layer of rocks to keep your soil away from any sitting water that might accumulate.

2. Cover your rocks with a layer of charcoal. This filters the air and prevents mold; it is especially important if you’re building a closed terrarium.

3. Cover your charcoal with a layer of sand for better drainage.

4. Cover your sand with soil.
Keep in mind while you’re putting down these layers how they look at the edges, 
where you can see them through the glass.

5. Plant your plants in the soil, surrounding the base of the plants with moss (this helps keep your plants moist in all the right places).
Think about how you lay out your terrarium, varying texture and color for a more interesting display.  A well-laid terrarium is truly a work of art.
Come! Join me and all the other hipsters in the greatest craze in home decor since the mounted deer head.

Shower Power!

16 Feb
The other day I developed an insatiable urge to purge my bathroom of filth. After a few weeks of grumbling to myself about the building grime in the tub that no one ever cleans I finally channeled my anger into the tub, brutally demolishing every speck of grime I could find with a handful of steel wool and a can of Bon Ami. And after the tub and the sink and the mirror and the toilet and the floor and the walls were all sparkling, I looked at the shower curtain and thought, this is disgusting. So I threw it in the garbage.
Tired of that mildewy plastic excuse for a liner, I went out to the store and brought back the most luxurious curtain liner I could get my hands on. Ivory on ivory striped, damask weave, fabric shower curtain liner. Machine washable. Nothing can upgrade the way you experience your shower quite like replacing that plastic crap with a nice fabric one.
During my search I also discovered the most incredible store I’ve ever encountered. They didn’t have what I was looking for, but they have just about everything else a girl like me could ever desire. Stella Dallas Living is a vintage textile shop, walls lined with all manner of secondhand textiles: curtains, bedspreads, rug, blankets, tablecloths, quilts, as well as yardage. I’ve passed by this place a million times on my bike and always think, “I wonder what’s in there….” If ever there was a store that could win my heart, it is this one. Anyway, that is entirely beside the point because it has nothing to do with my shower curtain.
So to return to the point, I dug through my fabric locker and pulled out a few different fabrics to mash together for my new shower curtain. Unless you’re converting an old sheet or bedspread, you’re unlikely to find fabric wide enough to make a shower curtain out of a single piece of fabric. So I did a bit of a patchwork. It’s unique, it’s colorful, it’s all sorts of nice things.
Luckily, this project is easy as pie. I whipped mine together in less than an hour.
What You’ll Need
Sewing Machine
Fabric (details below)
Fabric Shears
Cording (optional)
A shower curtain is little more than a big rectangle. A standard curtain is 70″ wide and 71″ or 72″ high. It has 12 holes across the top, 6″ apart from each other. It also often has a cord sewn into the bottom hem for a little weight.
With patchwork, it is always best to use only fabrics that are of similar weight and constitution. All my fabrics were cotton broadcloth.
The one thing to watch out for it you’re doing a patchwork is making sure all your cuts and seams are good and straight so that your curtains lays flat and doesn’t billow or pull in wonky ways when you hang it up.
I started by cutting 74″ strips out of my various fabrics (for a 71″ curtain, plus 1″ of seam allowance at the bottom hem and 2″ of seam allowance at the top) until the widths added up to 70″.  I sewed the strips together and pressed open all the seams.
a seam pressed open, from the inside
I then gave the sides a standard 1/2″ hem, the bottom a 1″ hem enclosing a piece of cording inside, and the top a 2″ hem.
I measured and marked with tailor’s chalk 12 buttonholes each 6″ apart from each other, the outermost holes 2″ from the edge. Consult your sewing machine’s manual if you’re unsure how to make buttonholes; all modern home machines have this function.
3/4″ buttonhole
And that’s a wrap!