Repurposing = Reincarnation?

Just taking a lunch break from cutting, sewing and stuffing things, (do I know how to party or what?) when a random thought occurred to me.

Mangled jeans or bag-to-be? Why not both?

We all know the random thoughts are usually the best.

A pretty decent percentage of materials I end up using are either second hand or cast offs of various types. Today, I’m working with a couple pairs of my hubby’s retired jeans. He’s a landscaper, so his clothing tends to take quite a beating.

Now, I usually end up mending his clothing on a regular basis, but after a while, it’s time for new duds. When he gets new clothing, instead of throwing out the old jeans, I wash them, then use their fabric.

The connection between repurposing clothing and reincarnation hit me today. Although the life of these garments as wearable clothing is done, their life as a pillow, bag or whatever else they get made into is just beginning.

Last year’s lilies thrived off of nutrients from soil
enriched with the leavings of worms and decomposed
plant matter. This years lilies will do the same
from last years’ leaves and compost.

It’s like the concept of reincarnation, in that when our bodies die, our spirits simply enter a new life as whatever it is we’re reborn as.

Hm.

So, those of us who like working with old clothing, jewelry or whatever else we found have quite a bit of power in our hands. We’re helping the environment out by minimizing wast and giving new life to ‘useless’ things.

If we look further into the concept, nature is just like that. On a strictly physical level, living things die and become food for other living things on a daily basis. Others are born to continue the species and the great cycle of life. Everything about us is recycled with time.

Even while we’re still alive, our cells are constantly dying, while others are being born. I read somewhere that it takes seven years for the human body to completely regenerate every single cell.

When that’s taken into account, I guess that makes everyone self-made, huh?

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Love thrift shops. They’re great for materials, and as the movie above shows, you might find some real gems.

Etsy Listing Feature

There are some awesome handmade goodies kicking around the internet, so I figure I’d start featuring some of my favorites.

A good friend of mine, Kit, runs a great little shop on Etsy called KitAndCorreale, on which she sells her truly awesome embroidery.

One listing she has up just blew me away the first time I saw it, and I’m still very impressed by it.

Deer Family
These guys are just absolutely adorable. Even more impressively, she designed them herself. Her work never fails to impress me.
You can get either the entire family, or one at a time. She has them listed separately as well. I highly suggest checking the rest of her shop out, too.

The Meaning of Amethyst

Some beautiful amethyst.
By Didier Descouens (Own work)
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 ],
via Wikimedia Commons

As you may have figured out by now, I really enjoy working with semiprecious stones in my projects. A long time favorite is amethyst.

If you’d like to add some extra meaning to your jewelry, why not incorporate some of these meanings into the piece?

Out Drinking?
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that amethyst could combat drunkenness. If one drank from an amethyst goblet, for example, they wouldn’t get drunk. I personally have my doubts, but then again, I’ve never had wine out of an amethyst goblet.

This might just be because when water is in an amethyst cup, it looks just like wine. Unless there’s some sort of clear alcohol mixed with it, you just don’t get drunk from water.

Eventually, this gem was believed to sharpen the intellect, protect warriors from harm, shield people from the ravages of love and banish negative thoughts.

That last bit is interesting, because a lot of citrine on the market, which transmutes negative energy into positive, is formed by super heating the more popular amethyst.

Royalty
Purple has been the color of royalty since ancient times. Since amethyst comes in various shades of lavender to purple, it’s long been a favorite color for royal jewels. English and Egyptian royalty were amongst the regal classes who favored it.

Interestingly, amethyst is also thought to be the symbol of purity and piety, thus very popular in the Catholic Church and Medieval churches. It’s said to be the stone of Bishops because of this belief.

It was also a holy stone in Buddhism, and there have been prayer beads made out of it in the past.

Today, it’s still regarded as a highly spiritual stone in New Age circles. If you happened to have been born in February, you have an extra connection to this lovely gem; it’s your birth stone!

So, next time you want to avoid intoxication of any kind, get in touch with your spirituality or just feel like being royalty for the day, don some amethyst jewelry

Kicking the Blog Hop Off

Recently, I joined this great group on Etsy, Etsy Promotion and Advertising. After a quick e-mail to the founder, I’ve been allowed to post about this blog hop I’m hoping to start.

This is a sample of how a participating blog’s entry will look:

I’m taking part in the Etsy Blog Hop! These are the questions that Emilie, the owner of Snowshine Gifts (you’d substitute the name and shop of the person who asked your questions here), asked:

1. How long have you been crafting?
I’ve been making things since I was a little kid. I remember braiding things from an early age – hair, twine, anything. I also used to make bookmarks out of dried flowers – a project I may pick up again once things start growing.

2. Do you admire a particular shop owner? If so, who?
There are many, but one lady I greatly admire is Kit, who runs Kit and Correale. I love her crochet, and hope to get up to her level one day!

3. How do you get through creativity blocks?
My problem is usually that I get too tired to really do anything well. Usually, that means I end up stopping to take a nap or go to sleep for the night. When it’s really bad, I still end up taking a break and do something else for a while.

That’s part of why I do so many different crafts in addition to writing. It’s like my brain needs to reset after a while.

4. What keeps you creating?
The sheer fun of it. It tends to relax me, and when I’m crafting, I can just let the overburdened parts my mind wander as I keep my fingers busy.

5. What’s your favorite spot to work in?
I love working outside in the warmer months. It’s great knitting or crocheting in the sunshine. Otherwise, I enjoy working in my little office/craft room. Everything’s right where I need it and distractions are (usually) minimal.

There we have it! Enjoy the blog hop, sellers!

Pi Art for Pi Day!

Now, I’m not fond of math, but I love good geek punnery. Therefore, I love Pi Day.

In celebration, I’m featuring some of my favorite Pi products on Etsy.

Pi Cookie Cutter at WarpZone – Like pi, but don’t like pie? Why not make Pi cookies instead?

Pi cookie cutter

Sweetie Pi Keychain at HeartAndSolDesigns – This is an adorable little key chain that’s perfect for the geeky loved one in your life.

Sweetie Pi Keychain

Pi-rate T-Shirt at wopbobalubob – This one had me cracking up when I first saw it. It’s almost a shame I prefer ninjas.

PiRate T-shirt
Chicken Pot Pi T-shirt at FeathersOnTheGround – This is another one that cracked me up, but now I’m strangely hungry, too. Hm.
Visual food based geek puns are made of awesome.
Chicken Pot Pi
Pi Bottle Opener at theUncommonGreen – If you’re celebrating Pi Day with a pizza pie, there’s nothing better than a cold, frosty one. This great bottle opener just adds to the day.
Pi Bottle Opener
There are tons of other goodies available on Etsy and at your local craft stores or fairs. The level of creativity out there is stunning and so much fun!

Making a Craft for Craft Month?

So, maybe I’m a little slow to the draw, sometimes, but I just found out that March is Craft Month. Kind of neat, huh?
Kids love expressing their creativity with crafts. Why not use
March as another excuse to play?
By English: Cpl. Katherine M. Solano
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I also stumbled across this nifty page, Cre8time. It’s all about reclaiming time to craft more and encourages creating things with family.
Right now, I’m browsing through their gallery. It’s pretty amazing how much they already have listed, and there are lots of great tips on the page, too. After thumbing through a few tutorials, it looks like it’s a good resource for “how-to” deals, and a decent place to find other creative types.
Well, in any case, I’ve created an account, and I’ll probably continue checking the place out of the next few days. It doesn’t look like it’s all that great for networking, so far. I’d stick with places like Ravelry or Etsy for that.
I like the idea of allotting a little time every day to creating something, though. We recently picked up some new jeans for the hubby, so I’ve claimed his old jeans to create things with.
What timing, huh?
Maybe I can wrangle some family together for a few hours of crafting sometime this month.
In any case, if you’re up for sharing some of your work, feel free to send links my way.
And speaking of. I’d mentioned making a few new things in my last entry. For the curious, what I put together that night were this necklace and these earrings.
I really need to wrestle my camera into compliance for some better pics.

Why is Art Important?

Today, there was a post on a community I’ve just joined asking if an artist can change the world with their work. Perhaps I’m biased, but I’m inclined to shout “Yes” from the rooftops.

I’d be more inclined to do so if there wasn’t so much snow up there.

Anyway, that question got my remaining two brain cells rubbing together, and I found myself pondering why art is so important. So, naturally, I figured I’d compile a list.

This gent either ate something sour,
saw something he didn’t want to
see, or REALLY needed to make a trip
to the bathroom.
By access (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
  1. It Evokes Emotion
    Realize, I’m using “art” as a blanket term for multiple mediums. Any kind of art can make the creator and observer alike rise to unbelievable highs or fall to provocative lows. That depth of emotion is what gives life color and texture.

    To me, art only serves to enhance that, whether it’s through a masterful story teller, an outstanding musician, handmade blanket or stunning picture.

  2. It Spurs Scientific Advances
    Although the two may seem unrelated at first, they have deeper ties than immediately evident.

    Think about it. The act of creating something with fabric, wood, paint or ink accesses a person’s innate creativity. As they work, they encounter problems which must be solved in order for the final product to be born. Scientific discovery is a lot like that.

    Beyond those similarities, look at space travel and cell phones. Science fiction has inspired people to enter the realm of science, and the design of cell phones. Remember flip phones?

    If you’ve seen Star Trek, you’ve seen the tri-corders which flip open. In more recent Star Trek series, they had touch screen technology long before it existed in real life.

  3. Stress Relief
    I suppose this one goes along with number 1. When we’re feeling terribly low, it feels good to escape into another world for a little while or lose ourselves in creating something with our hands. The acts of viewing and making art provide that escape, and offers overburdened minds a chance to rest, if only for a short time.
  4. Out Comes the Inner Child
    I know I’m not alone in this one. Today, a box of fresh supplies came in the mail today, and I pretty much danced in place when it arrived. Even though I knew what was in the box, it was still a thrill to open it and get a look at the raw materials.

    There’s nothing like new yarn, fabric, beads, whatever else you craft with to bring the kid out in all of us.

    That joy helps make otherwise long days easier to endure and helps with your overall health.

  5. It Helps Us Be Ourselves
    The most important thing is how it helps with our self expression, and helps us find out who we truly are. Whether we’re using it as a way to get out of a depressive episode or using it as a way to find our spiritual path, we use it to find our inner health and how to live our lives.

These, of course are only a few reasons why art is a vital part of life, but they each illustrate why it should be valued and encouraged.

Three Ideas For Reusing Things to Save Money

Disclaimer: This entry contains affiliate links.

It seems hard to feed your crafting addiction when you’re short on cash. If you think about it, there are almost countless ways to turn things you no longer use into materials for cosplay, new clothing or gifts.

Worn Out Jeans

My hubby’s great at his job, but he’s unbelievably hard on his jeans. Granted, we can’t afford to buy new jeans every week, so I do a lot of mending, but after a while, it gets ridiculous.

When we finally do pick up new jeans, I have material for all kinds of crafts. This article covers some of them, but my all time favorite jeans-originated goody is my handbag.

All I needed was a few decent sized undamaged patches of jeans, and scraps left over from a childhood costume my mom had made my brother years ago.

It cost me only the price of the jeans and the bit of time needed to actually sew it, and it’s served me well ever since. In fact, it’s my default purse in the warmer months.

T-Shirt Projects
If you want new shirts, purses or skirts, check out the Generation T books. I absolutely love the one I own, which is linked below.

A couple of years ago, I was at a convention which had some great hands-on panels. One of those panels revolved around re-purposing old t-shirts into new creations. Most of the patterns involved little to no sewing, and very clear instructions on how to cut the fabric properly.

From a monetary standpoint, t-shirts are extremely affordable, especially when you go to the clearance racks at your local store or hit up thrift shops. Garage sales are another great options for finding old shirts for your creations.

A woman wearing a necklace with a white pendant with wire flowers on it.
DIY Jewelry
Children and adults alike enjoy wearing jewelry. When a necklace or bracelet breaks, though, it can be hard to mend them.
If you weren’t deeply in love with how they looked to begin with, why not turn them into something else?
For instance, I picked up an old, stainless steel belly-chain from a thrift store a while ago. It was broken, and apparently not worth repairing, but it still provided chain that was used to make a necklace and bracelet, with some left over.  It also provided hardware that I used to string semi-precious stones on.
With just a little ingenuity and patience, you could come up with ways to use things you already have around the house or can pick up second hand to make unique and handy things that you can enjoy every day or give away as gifts.

Three Easy Last Minute Craft Ideas

Woops! We’re down to the wire and still missing a few gifts.

If you’re anything like me, you’re scrambling to get things made and gifts wrapped. Don’t panic! These three ideas work for most people and they’re super easy to make.

As an extra bonus, they’re made of stuff you probably already have!

Dream Pillow Recipes
Do you know how to make a pillow? Just cut out two rectangles of fabric, sew three ends together and stuff, right?

A purple pillow in the shape of a cat.
This kitty pillow had
chamomile and lavender in
it. Even after being shipped
cross-country, the recipient
said it still smelled amazing.

Dream pillows are pretty much the same concept. These goodies can be made in any shape you desire, and the only exotic thing you need to find are herbs. As you’re stuffing the pillow, just grind the herbs between your fingers as you sprinkle them with your filling of choice.

Loose herbs can be found in many health stores, but if you don’t have easy access to one, raid your tea or decorative supplies.

Here are some of the best ones to use in these pillows:

Lavender – Dispels nightmares and encourages restful sleep
Mint – Encourages healing and protects the sleeper
Chamomile – Brings about peace and helps you sleep

Mint and chamomile are very popular teas, and you may be able to find lavender in the same area.

Good Luck Charms
These could be anything from wish bags to a hand-crafted shamrock. If you associate it with luck, you can probably make it.

Jewelry is an especially good candidate for good luck charm status. The color green is often associated with luck, so putting together a quick pendant of green beads would do the trick, as would putting together a necklace or bracelet.

If you have access to semi-precious stones, these are considered especially lucky:

Jade
Turquoise
Sapphire

Make Hair Clips
A quick trip to the hair care isle can yield some simple, unadorned clips ready for decoration.

Ribbon can be wrapped around these accessories and glued in place, as can yarn. If you like hair falls, you can improvise the look by knotting the yarn around the clip and letting the rest hang free. Beads and semi-precious stones can be glued to them, as can artificial flowers.

These ideas make simple, but fun gifts your loved one is sure to appreciate.

DIY Gifts

So, the rush is on for the holiday shopping season. Black Friday kicked it off, Small Business Saturday followed up and Cyber Monday is in full swing.

I’m one of those people who would gladly spend all my money on local small businesses, but I’m also one of those people who needs to spend most of my money on monthly bills and put a bit aside as often as possible for savings just in case of emergency.
The problem ends up being, “How in the world do I get things for people I love without breaking the bank?” Thankfully, I’m a little on the crafty side, so I end up knitting holes in my fingers, or at the very least, gluing or wiring myself to goodies on Christmas Eve.
As a result, I’ve come up with some relatively simple gifts which have personal meaning and look pretty decent.
Handmade, beaded earrings
Create Jewelry
It’s a lot easier than you might think to make jewelry for people. Beads are sold everywhere, and there are many great how-to books on how to make the pieces with high quality.
Since I learn from doing, those books gave me a foundation to jump off of, but I had to learn by doing. I usually end up comparing different types of beads, ornaments and twining material/chains and figure out a simple pattern from there.
It’s pretty easy once you already have a picture of what you want in mind already. Just lay the beads out and go. Lengths can be a little difficult to figure out at first, but if you use yourself as a model, especially if the person you’re giving it to is about your size, you’ll get the hang of it.
One of the best things about jewelry is that you can make it for both men and women. Generally, men’s jewelry is a little bigger and much more simple than women’s, but remember to take into account your loved one’s tastes, too.
Simple Bead Patterns
Tiny little dragon I made as a gift
for someone.
The internet has a lot of free, very doable beading patterns out there. One of my favorites is this tutorial on Deviant Art. It works much better with bigger beads, though. It looks pretty complicated at first, but with some patience, it’s really pretty easy to figure out.
I’ve also seen many beading patterns for necklaces, bracelets, earrings and even rings. If you have a gift with needle and thread, it’s very easy to add beaded patterns to your creations as well.
Easy Art Projects
Much as I wish otherwise, I’m not much of an artist when it comes to painting and drawing. I mean, stick figures flee in horror when they see me coming with a pencil.
These were made as my part of an art swap.
There’s no law saying that if you want to make something meaningful for someone that it needs to have figures on the finished product, though. I’ve found that quotes I either find somewhere or that I make up myself work wonderfully. Although my calligraphy skills aren’t all that spectacular, they’re still decent enough to look rather pretty when I practice them.
A good friend of mine gave me a water color set a while ago, and I’ve found that medium is great for those of us who are better with general shapes and colors rather than realistic artwork. After playing around with them a bit, I’ve discovered that I can create some simple, but rather pretty pieces in a relatively short period of time.
So, this holiday season, take part in the shopping frenzy, by all means, but don’t sell yourself short in the creativity department. Sometimes, a handmade gift is the best gift of all.