Shell Wall Hanging

23 10 2017

A couple years ago I picked up some awesome shells at Cumberland Island and made a bunch into candles (see post here), but I had some cute smaller ones leftover and wanted to put them somewhere they could be seen. So I came across this really plain, cheap shadow box at Michaels and decided to make a display.

shell box1

(Forgive the crappy photos; there are all with my cell phone.) I just left them in there for a few months until I got off my butt to work on it.

shell box3

This is so easy, you need only a few supplies: the shadow box (obviously), a brush, whatever paint you want, sandpaper, aluminum foil to use as a palette for the paint, and newspaper to protect your workspace. Craft stores sell little $1 bottles of cheap acrylic that would have been perfect, but I didn’t have those and didn’t feel like making an extra trip, so I just used real acrylics (I don’t recommend, waste of money, plus the black tends to dry glossy, which isn’t what you want.)

shell box2

I wasn’t exactly sure what color scheme I wanted, so I did a few mock ups in Photoshop (I have green walls). This is the one I decided on.

shell box4

So simple! And the final product on the wall:

shell box5

So, maybe I went too easy with it because you can see a couple little blops of white paint on the glass. Oops! I probably could get those off. Also, this is after it’s been up for a couple weeks… see the line below the bottom shells? That’s sand/shell particles. I cleaned the shells and brushed them off repeatedly, but still – so FYI you probably will have to open the case and do that a few times.


So I Made a Dress

18 05 2017

Craft time! Somehow I’ve managed to make actually wearable full circle skirts, and that’s about it… but recently I decided to try making an entire dress. With no pattern. And I barely know how to sew. Fun!

lily dress4

Actually it was kind of fun, and even though it’s clearly a bit ill-fitting, and I had no idea how to do boob darts, I think it looks pretty decent for a 1st try. I mean, I least I can get in and out of it!

lily dress2

Okay, I’m actually pretty proud of it. I had to do a whole crappy iPhone photo shoot to memorialize my victory in case it starts falling apart down the road.

lily dress8

I tried to use a much shorter spandex dress I have as a “model”, made a pattern from that and estimated the extra allowance for cotton since it doesn’t really stretch. I didn’t estimate quite right on the bodice’s proportions.
Then I did a 1/2 circle skirt instead of a full, because I didn’t have enough material. You can see – it still moves but isn’t as swishy.

lily dress11

Well, okay, it’s a little swishy. (Ignore my dumb face pls!)

lily dress7

Walking away, the back doesn’t look too bad. But up close, you can see that I put the zipper in off-angle (woops) and have excess material. Plus I want to leave the top of the back open so it can close with a bow thing and haven’t gotten to that part yet. (It stays zipped anyway without it.)

lily dress9

Ack – just pretend like you can’t see that part. Oh, and the other part that doesn’t fit right:

lily dress18

See how the hip sticks out from the bodice? Ugh. Anyway – I learned a lot and (hopefully) my next dress will fit better. Maybe I’ll get unlazy and actually buy a pattern.

Oh and just FYI this lily pad material came from JoAnn’s in the cotton section – not too expensive!


Shell Candles

12 01 2016

shell candle3

I’d love to call this a DIY, but I was so amateur that this may be more helpful as a “what not to do.” Anyway, last Christmas I made soap; this Christmas my DIY was shell candles!

shell candle2

These beauts were collected on my last trip to Cumberland Island, and I’d wanted to do something with them ever since. Making soap was so easy, I decided making candles would be too. It starts out easy enough:

shell candle1

Supplies, above, left to right: candle thermometer (which I ended up not using), soy wax shavings, blue dye, candle scent, and wicks.

Online “how to” guides weren’t as comprehensive as soap guides… but it seemed the “real” way to make candles was by melting wax in a double boiler over a stove and using the thermometer to ensure it reaches the exact right temp. That’s too exacting for me! Turns out that soy wax does pretty well in a microwave, and you can even bypass the thermometer.

shell candle5

I used my giant Pyrex measuring cup (make sure it’s not also used for food), and dumped in a bunch of soy shavings. I attempted to crack one of the blue dye chips in half, not wanting too much blue.

shell candle6

I melted in intervals; search online for ideas of how long to go at first. Maybe a few minutes, then stir and break it down into much shorter periods until mixed. It starts to turn a gross flaky yellow as it melts. And just when I was worried the dye wouldn’t melt…

shell candle7

Well, the dye certainly did its job! So much for a “light blue” tint. So lesson #1, use a hell of a lot less of the dye than you think.

I added in some scent, stirred, and let it sit. It’s not good (especially for certain container types) to pour freshly melted wax – too hot. Better to let it sit for several minutes. Here’s where you could still use your candle thermometer. I had a hardware heat gun that mostly gave me an idea just by pointing it at the wax. Think it took about 12 minutes.

While waiting for the wax to cool, assemble your candles. I arranged my shells over a bed of gravel to prop up their ends, because if left to their natural standing state, the liquid wax would drain out of the ends of them.

shell candle4

Some guides say to glue the wicks in with hot glue; others say the wax will melt that, so use wax itself. I dunno. I went with Epoxy and it worked fine. My wicks had those metal ends to them that you can make lie flat, which was helpful.

Then, pour!

shell candle9

Well, it works….

shell candle10

But it was definitely TOO blue. I mean, it kind of looks like that dark blue toilet cleaner stuff:

shell candle8

So I had the brilliant idea of adding a thin non-dyed layer of wax on top to dilute the blue. Perfect, right?

shell candle11

Just a bit, no dye this time. It poured in well…

shell candle12

But as it started drying, it dried so opaque that it became basically white with little bits of dark blue peeking out.

shell candle13

Still, not the worst effect, just not what I was going for. Once they dried (over a few hours), I used a metal scraper to clean some of the edges where the dark blue rose above the white. Next, I trimmed the wicks so just a small amount rose above the wax.

shell candle14

Not perfect, but not too bad!

shell candle15

I noticed the wax sinks a bit right around the wick on some of them. On a couple  I noticed it before drying and tried to add more melty wax to fill it in, but it still collapses. Still don’t know why it does that.

Anyway, the final test remained: would they burn properly, or combust?

shell candle16

I am pleased to report, they DO burn properly! So it’s a success, though a messily done one.

shell candle17

Yay! So, lessons learned:
1) Try to find shells that won’t spill wax everywhere when lit.
2) Use much, much less dye than you think you’ll need.
3) Soy wax DOES melt well in a microwave, but that candle thermometer may still come in handy.
4) Even the thinnest layers of wax dry really opaque.

Cheers. 🙂


Terrarium Phone Case

24 11 2015


I’d been using one phone case for like 2 years (really cute, blue and white with birds), and it was looking kinda gross. The white in it had greyed out, and nothing I tried (alcohol, soap, Tide pen) would clean it. I decided I needed a new, clean case. So, I designed my own!

It started as just a sketch late one night. About a couple hours, concept to completed line work, just chilling out and listening to music. Decided to draw some cartoony terrariums networked together (but no rulers!)


Yes, it’s been drawn using my pillow for a table. Bed = most comfy place to draw.


I didn’t start out thinking “phone case” or I might have tried to get more even lines, but by the end I liked it:


So I scanned and colored it in Photoshop:

Terrariums in Pink

Cute! I happened to have coupons for Shutterfly, plus they were having a 40% off phone cases deal. It’s NOT worth it if you don’t have any coupons/discounts (e.g. the case I got – iPhone 5 with silicone casing for extra protection – would be $60 without them!), but with them it cost me about $20 including shipping.

The only challenge was that my drawing’s dimensions didn’t match a phone case’s dimensions. Lots of the drawing was cut off, but even to get what I did, I had to go back into Photoshop and add a large white border all around the image.


I’m pretty happy with it though! Plus, the pink color matches exactly with my purse. 🙂


Soap! DIY Do’s and Don’ts

24 09 2015


Last year making soap became one of my new hobbies. I wrote about the experience here. I got really into it during the holidays, because it makes great presents and is pretty fun to do! My DIY journey culminated in making said soap-presents, particularly citrus ones:


Please excuse the messy work area; I had a lot going on. The citrus soap taught me a lot about what to do and not to do. Some examples:

DO: make entire soap bars of 1 type (e.g. orange translucent or yellow opaque) and then cut them up into shapes that you then put back into a mold and combine with another type for a more interesting look.

DON’T: If you’re adding opaque (like a goat’s milk soap base) over translucent pieces (like a glycerin base), don’t just lay the translucent pieces down then pour in the opaque over it – the liquid will slide under the pieces and block some of them from sight and/or ruin your design. You can see where I made that mistake on the orange/yellow/white piece below. I could remove some of the overlap with a knife, but not all.


DO: Instead, pour 1st a thin clear layer of translucent base into the mold, and stick your shape pieces in that. It will hold them into place and also, once solid/mostly cooled, will serve as a protective layer that your opaque melted soap can’t leak under, so it preserves your design.


Horrible photo quality, I know. But how cool is that?


By far, the easiest/nicest looking/most popular with recipients soap type was the goat’s milk base (white) with oatmeal – see above. I used a honey/almond scent that worked well with it.

DO: Add small textured items like oatmeal or ground coffee into some of your soap to make it an exfoliant. Coffee is actually pretty abrasive, so use smaller particles.

DON’T: Add fresh herbs/plant particles (e.g. flowers or petals) into your soap. They will eventually mold, going brown/black and sometimes fuzzy. Above, the purple soap is rosemary scented with little bits of rosemary flowers inside. HOWEVER – I figured out the mold thing from last time, so I made sure to use dried plants – in fact, I purchased these in a packet at a craft store. So I’m really surprised they still turned brown. Maybe it’s the heat? Either way, be careful when you use plant ingredients, as even dry ones can turn gross. I’ve heard that you can use silk flowers from a looks standpoint, and of course those will be okay.


These are mini rose soaps… I’d purchased rose scent and where better to use it than in a rose mold? Problem was I  couldn’t find one, so I bought a rose dessert mold instead – you know, for melted candy and chocolate – knowing it may not translate but thinking it was worth a try.

DO: be careful if using molds not meant for soap. My experience with the rose dessert mold showed me the plastic would actually melt if the soap was too hot, so most of my roses were shapeless blobs. I got a few to work by letting the liquid soap sit and cool for a bit before pouring, but still most were thrown out.


I used saran wrap and simple computer labels with the scent written on them to package the soap in a basic way. Could be much better with pretty labels! But I figured as long as they’re in nice tissue paper and a pretty bag, no one would care.

Overall, it’s still pretty easy, and you can get pretty creative with it!


DIY Pet Pillow

2 04 2015

So, I did a lot of DIY for Christmas last year (yes, this post is VERY late in coming), and that included my first attempt making a pet pillow (more specifically a cat pillow) for my friend L, who loves her cat, Misha. 🙂 This is pretty easy to make, and people love custom things, so if you have a pet lover in your life, this might be the gift for them!

Wanna make your own?

You will need:
– pet photo, full-body (unless you want a floating head or something)
– t-shirt transfer photo paper, sold at any office store like Staples
– computer and printer (obviously)
– white cotton material (I get a full yard to have extra leftover)
– an iron
– pillow stuffing
– sewing supplies (needle, white thread)

First, get a picture, full body view, of the pet of your choice….a little harder doing a gift, because your friend may wonder why you’re asking for a pic of their pet…Anyway, load the pic to your computer. If you have photo editing software, you can edit the area around the cat to be white (select and erase, or dodge, etc.) so it’ll be easier to cut/transfer to material without getting unwanted background elements. You can always do a close cut with scissors too.

pillow supplies

pillow supplies

See my lovely supplies, above, including the printed pet image. (Oh yes, and try not to be an idiot like me and forget to flip your image before printing if any words are visible (like her ID tag); otherwise they’ll iron on backwards.) Now it’s time to cut out your image. If you weren’t able to make the image background white, cut as close as possible to the pet itself. Because I was able to edit mine white, I could leave a bit of a margin which is easier to deal with.

misha pillow2

Cute! Cut out your white cloth to make 2 pieces that are bigger (at least a couple inches around the image) than the pic. It really doesn’t take much cloth since your transfer paper size is only 8.5×11″, regular paper size, which is pretty small. Now, for the ironing! Iron your cloth first. The transfer paper will come with directions; just follow those.

misha pillow3

Let your new picture-cloth cool down, then you can cut out closer to the pet shape, but remember to leave plenty of room around the edges. Leave the cloth with the pet image facing up flat on a table. Lay the other, blank white cloth on top of it, aligning the edges of the cloth. (If you want the back of the pillow to be the backside of the pet, you’ll need to get a picture of the back of him/her, iron that onto cloth, and then place your cloths so that the images are touching/facing each other.) Then sew around it…again, be sure to sew leaving a couple inches of white visible instead of right next to the pet, or when it’s stuffed, some of the pet image will be cut off. I used a sewing machine, but you could easily do it by hand. Don’t sew all the way around; leave several inches open. You’ll need to reach in the opening to add stuffing. Turn the sewn pillow inside out – now the pet is on the outside!

misha pillow4

Now it’s time to add stuffing. Any craft store like Hobby Lobby should have this. When it’s fully stuffed, take the needle and thread and, by hand, sew the opening closed.

misha pillow5

Ta da! I will admit, this is not a great picture of the pillow. The pet photo quality was really sharp, and it’s eyes didn’t actually look so wonky. BUT – either way, my friend thought it was cute, and it was definitely something unexpected. 🙂

Project: Mouse

20 01 2015

I haven’t abandoned this blog! It’s just life getting in the way as usual. In a 2 week time span, I’ve traveled to a tropical vacation spot and will travel to a frozen cold business city. Then there was the biopsy business which was totally not cool except for the fact that I’m now technically part titanium. And I’m enough of a nerd to be excited about that.

Anyway, I’ve been making time for little craft projects. Last summer, I fell in love with this line of vegetable/animal figurines called Homegrown. OMG. They are the cutest! I can’t decide which of them to buy yet, so in the meantime I decided to try making the rutabaga mouse out of old polymer clay.


You’re probably supposed to use foil or an armature for the body, but I thought I’d try to get away with making it smaller without that stuff.


Rough. Man, is it hard to get things smooth! By the time I baked it, it looked pretty okay. Then I knocked its ear off. And then its arm fell off. 😦


However! I epoxy-ed it all back together, and the acrylics worked brilliantly. You can see the picture of the Enesco/Homegrown version behind it. It’s much better than mine, but I’m still pretty proud of it. Oh, and those are a couple of random, in-process, clay swans on the painting foil.



The cooking time confuses me, because the clay package said 15 minutes for every 1/4 inch, but the mouse’s body was so much thicker than the rest. I ended up burning the bottom of him, but! paint fixes all.

DIY Soap

5 11 2014


I wanted to go DIY this year for holiday gifts, because it seems like everyone’s at that point where they “don’t know” when you ask what they want or, if they do want something, they buy it for themselves. Guess we’re truly boring old adults now! Anyway, soap sounds like a good idea because it’s both useful AND pretty. Win. Apparently, serious soap making is straight up dangerous. Like, it can burn your skin off. But anyone can do melt and pour! I’m experimenting with it now to perfect everything before X-mas. The soaps above are melt and pour goat’s milk with coffee (the brown ones) and half rosemary/half coffee for the other.

Here’s what you do:

glycerin soap base

glycerin soap base

Stop by your Michaels or Hobby Lobby with a weekly 40% off coupon and get a soap base for around $6.50, $7, something like that. The one above is clear glycerin. Some others are white/opaque like goat’s milk and shea butter.

soap mold

soap mold

You’ll need some molds. I got this one for around $3. It’s pretty basic so it could be versatile, but they make them with all kinds of patterns.

additives - dye and scents

additives – dye and scents

Then buy whatever additives you might want. Craft stores will sell various colorants, soap scents, and essential oils. The oils are pretty expensive, so I went with the soap scents (most are around $5 at Michaels and $3 at Hobby Lobby). I’m not sure if there’s a benefit to using these over perfumes and other colorings – I figured it’s best to be safe since this is going on skin.

Pyrex mixing cup

Pyrex mixing cup

You’ll need a mixing cup or bowl to melt the soap base in that’s microwave safe. People recommended Pyrex, so I bought an enormous 4 cup Pyrex mixer. You will also need something to stir it with. I use popsicle sticks for my resin, and they work fine here too.

more additives - tea!

more additives – tea!

I like the idea of putting random things in the soap. Some people recommended tea, herbs, coffee, oatmeal. Those can function as exfoliants and possibly smell good. I’m trying to experiment by adding scents to some and leaving others without. So far the tea smell seems to come through if you put a lot in. I also used very strong smelling tea (some kind of jasmine fruit thing).

making the soap - part 1!

making the soap – part 1!

So – to make the soap: first, cut up some of your soap base. It cuts really easy, like a butter knife can do it. I do a few squares at a time; it’s pretty easy to add more. Drop them in the mixing cup and microwave them, 20 – 30 seconds depending on how much, stir, and continue on 10 second intervals until it’s all melted.

freshly poured

freshly poured

Depending on what you want, you can add your coloring/scents/other random things into the mixing up or into the individual molds and mix. I find it easier/more mixable in the mixing cup, but I don’t want all of the same kind, so above I did them one by one. I found that you can mix up a clear soap base with an opaque one, if you add only very little opaque and mix only a little, really just swirl it. The opaque will mostly take over, but it still makes some cool cloudy effects. The two at the top are oatmeal/goat’s milk and tea/goat’s milk.

more soap cooling down

more soap cooling down

Here I tried tea – a LOT of tea – in the top right in a clear base. Clear is a nice idea, because then you can really see what’s inside, but tea tends to make everything a mucky brown color. At the bottom I added fresh herbs. Feeling like they might turn black (fresh = moisture in the leaves = mold over time), but I’ll wait and see. Anyway, let everything cool. I leave it out for 3 or 4 hours then pop in the freezer for 15 minutes or so (makes it easier to pop them out). I left some in the freezer overnight and they had all this gross condensation on them – so maybe don’t do that.

Ta da!

Ta da!

The finished herb and tea soaps. More experimenting to do. But I like that it’s pretty easy and cheap. Wrapped up with a ribbon/string around them, these could make cute gifts!

Last Peaches of Summer

30 09 2014


There is nothing like a fresh, juicy peach in the tail end of summer, especially one from Georgia! I ended up in late August with a whole bag of them and, being on an “afternoon tea” kick (obsessed with all treats little and delicious), I got this craving for peach tarts. Now, peaches are fine on their own, but every now and then it’s fun to do something different.

Never having made tarts before, I pieced together different recipes.

Pre-made crust sounded much easier than from scratch. I ended up with this graham crust – the only kind of this size Publix seemed to offer. Now, this wasn’t bad; the taste was fine. But the graham crumbled apart super easily, so I had to leave the tarts in the tins.

peach tarts2

I really like the fruit tarts at Le Croissant Gourmet in Winter Park, so instead of the easier marscapone no-bake filling, I opted for a custard/pastry cream recipe. Seemed more authentic to me. You have to boil milk (2 cups) and sugar (1/4 cup), and separately whisk an egg and 2 egg yolks – then add 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cornstarch (for thickening) to the eggs. Then you combine both, mixing (so the hot egg won’t cook), and then pour back into a pan and cook over the stove. The whole time you’re at a low boil and stirring. Eventually it turns into this disgustingly gloppy stuff, but apparently that means your doing it right. You take it off the heat and add a bit of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of butter, stirring until it’s mixed in. Personally, I don’t know about the butter. I feel like it might not be necessary. Then the extra weird part is, when you put it all into a container to chill in the fridge, you put plastic wrap on top – and pat it down so it touches the gloppy stuff.

And that’s more than the average person ever wanted to hear about custard.

pressing the wrap to the custard stuff - ick

pressing the wrap to the custard stuff – ick

From that point, it was easy. You just spoon the custard stuff into the pastry shells and top with fruit. I tried some with the peaches peeled and some not. Taste is the same, though with peel is harder to cut if you need to eat in in multiple bites (like these.)

filling the shells...

filling the shells…

making glaze

making glaze

You could be done there, I guess, but to really be official, make a glaze – this makes it glossy and sort of seals things in. I used 1 tablespoon of water and 1/2 cup of peach jam/preserves – mix that over a stove for a bit. Voila!

pretty completed tart on the left, 3 more to glaze! :)

pretty completed tart on the left, 3 more to glaze! 🙂

fluffy, rich, and delicious!

fluffy, rich, and delicious!

Resin coming up!

24 06 2014

Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Life – it doesn’t do what you want it to sometimes. But! I am finally about finished with several new botanical pendants:


Silica crystals waiting to be brushed off

Silica crystals waiting to be brushed off


the whole set up - messy!

the whole set up – messy!

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