Wild About Washi Tape

Have you joined the Washi Tape craze?

Washi tape gift box

I first spotted this colorful tape on a wall at MyMaido, a Japanese stationery store at Santana Row. An artist used the strips to make a small mural. Though intrigued, I couldn’t see myself using it in that way.

Over the next few years the colorful tape started popping up in crafting stores, the Scrapbook Island and on Pinterest.

The tape has been around since 2006. In a nutshell, it’s masking tape made beautiful. It’s easy to apply and easy to remove. According to Tofugo

Washi is made of up the Japanese characters 和 (wa) which means harmony and is often used to symbolize Japan, and 紙 (shi) which means paper. So put them together, and it means Japanese paper. Unlike western paper which is made from tree pulp, washi is made from Japanese shrubs. Washi can be made of almost any plant, but is typically made from ganpi, kozo, mitsumata, or sometimes hemp. Washi is known in the west for the beautiful designs that are printed or painted on it, and its differences from other papers through its light weight and textured feel.

I’ve always loved stationery, especially stickers and tape. It’s hard to describe the appeal, but it’s been there my whole life. I bought a couple of rolls of Washi tape at Scrapbook Island to use on a card, but then the rolls sat in my craft stash on standby, wondering what to do next.

Now I can’t get enough of it. The prices have come down while the variety of colors and prints has multiplied exponentially. Some of the earlier tapes didn’t adhere as well, but that’s improved too.

My friend Kelly uses colorful Washi tape to outline her gorgeous package labels. I capitalized on her idea and do the same. I also like using it to cover the ugly markings on a reused box before shipping.

My friend Stephanie crafted a gorgeous card using the tape, and from there, inspiration struck: I used a similar pattern to cover a plain brown box with a friend’s favorite colors before sending it as a gift.

No room is safe from this tape. Several years ago I hung a framed magnetic board inside a kitchen cabinet to keep phone numbers and coupons at hand.  Eventually the frame broke from constant use. I re-framed the board with Washi Tape, then added a few contrasting strips like a shelf under the cards.

Washi tape magnet board

Framing a magnet board

When I converted my son’s bedroom into a guest room this fall, I spruced up the wall lamp shades with postage-themed tape. It really added a nice finishing touch and was fun to do.

Washi tape lampshade

A bit of lampshade bling

It was nice receiving this free letter-opener in the mail but it’s not much to look at. I covered the advertising with Washi tape, beautifying an otherwise utilitarian object.

washi tape letter opener

Beautifying my office supplies

Even the tiny house in my fairy garden got a new set of floral Washi tape drapes.

Can you tell I’ve been having fun?

How about you? Do you have a favorite something that you just can’t get enough of?

Newly Hung Washi Tape Drapes

Newly Hung Washi Tape Drapes

Blogging 101: All About Alys and Some Bunting for Fran

There’s a first time for everything, right? I’ve never included my name in the title before, and frankly it’s a bit weird. Since one of the goals of Blogging 101 is to stretch yourself, I’m doing just that. So, there it is Alys, front and center.

We’re tackling our About Page today. We start by jotting down a few ideas along with descriptors of who we are and what we’re about. With scribbled notes and ideas in hand, we’re to write enticing prose that will attract readers far and wide. Not just any old reader, but the reader who waits breathlessly for your next post.

Or something like that.

In other words, if you write a decent about page, you’ll attract ‘your people.’

Last week Pauline suggested I take an excerpt from one of my posts and include it on my about page. Then up popped this assignment. Life is grand when the dots connect.

Bunting for Fran

Speaking of Pauline, she proposed a Random Act of Kindness on her blog in November, then collaborated with The Snail of Happiness. You can read more about this charming act of giving here and here. Together they decided that Fran’s garden needed bunting. For those of us joining in, the only parameters were to include a margin a the top of the bunting for threading and since it would hang in her garden sanctuary, could it please be weatherproofed. I hemmed and hawed over this one, a bit stumped for suitable outdoor material. Eventually I settled on burlap. Not only is it natural and rugged, but it reminds me of the material enclosing Sanctuary on all sides. Fran and Steve garden in Tasmania, Australia, home to a LOT of voracious creatures. Without its enclosure, the garden becomes a free for all.

Something Old, Something New

Here’s what I did. I bought a roll of narrow burlap, then divided it into seven sections. After creating a notched template out of a piece of cardboard, I cut and hemmed each section at the top. All the other edges are raw. With my sewing machine, I zig-zag stitched all the remaining edges to discourage unraveling.

burlap bunting template

The new part for me was printing on sheets of fabric. That was so cool!  The sheets, manufactured by The Electric Quilt Company, feed through your printer. There are only six sheets to a package so I crossed my fingers and toes and hoped the printer was in a good mood that day.

I downloaded seven photos from Fran’s blog, then printed them as 4 x 6 images on to the cotton satin fabric sheets. It worked!

photos printed on cotton

After peeling the backing, I ironed the cloth, then cut all four edges with my scalloped paper-cutter, again holding my breath. I practiced on a few scraps, then I went for it.

burlap bunting collage

Bunting Assembly: Garden photos copyrighted The Road to Serendipity

Finally, I attached the photos at the corners with a bit of thread and some crystal beads to catch the light. The panels thread through a strand of parachute cord, available at craft stores for about three bucks.

crystal bead detail

Detail: small crystal beads sewn at each corner

burlap bunting closeup

Burlap Bunting Close-up

burlap bunting finished

Burlap Bunting

I’m almost certain there is one more banner floating around the blogosphere, so if I’ve missed anyone, please share the link and I’ll edit this post accordingly.

Just one more thing before you go: if you have a minute, will you please take a look at my About Page? Constructive criticism welcome. This has been the most difficult assignment to date.

 

Crafty?

What do you think of my crafty idea? Should I enter it in the county fair?

squirrel nesting wreath

What am I?

It’s part mutant octopus, part over the top wreath. It might even show up on a Pinterest board entitled “Crafts Gone Terribly Wrong.”

So, can you guess what it is?

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Give up?

It’s part of my squirrel nesting experiment.  After destroying the slipcover in July, the squirrels returned to hand-pick the stuffing from the lining of the swing. I disguised the damage with a cotton shower curtain which only slowed them down. Now they carefully fold back the edge of the cover and continue to pluck the stuffing.

garden swing exposed stuffing

My sorry-looking garden swing

My experiment

I smoothed the curtain/cover over the exposed stuffing and placed two things on top:

The soft, exposed lining of the sunflower…

sunflower fluff

Exhibit A: Sunflower Fluff

The idea came to me this morning when I found a shredded sunflower head in the middle of the lawn. I couldn’t believe how soft it was. Maybe they’ll use the pulp for nesting.

…and my octopus wreath.

squirrel wreath

Exhibit B: Octopus wreath

My ‘wreath’ will not be entering any craft fairs, but with luck it will serve its purpose: Lining the squirrel’s nest.

Stay tuned.

Sunflowers in Art

Yesterday, Val at Nikitaland said “I love that flower painting on the glass as it makes a nice statement in the backyard, not to mention, I love how it adds instant color! I bet it looks beautiful when the sun hits it!” Thanks Val!

I tried capturing the light this morning with mixed success, but you can see why I hung the painting over the back of a trellis instead of the fence or wall. The sun pours through the glass window around ten in the morning. If I’m lucky enough to be home, I get to enjoy it.

sunlight through the window

Whitney Pintello: Reverse painted sunflower on salvaged window

Little Free Bookmarks

If you do all your reading on a Kindle, please carry on. If you’re like me though and still enjoy the feel and smell of an actual book in your hands, you’ll appreciate the need for bookmarks.

I know some people ‘dog ear’ the page of a book, but we grew up reading books from the library and book mobile. Dog-earing a book was akin to graffiti. It just wasn’t done.

Now that we have a Little Free Library (LFL) at the curb, I’ve found a built-in excuse to make bookmarks. I made several out of postcards for our LFL dedication and they were a hit. There are only three left.

Postcard bookmarks

Postcard bookmarks

Using leftover scraps from card-making and other paper crafts I made another handful of bookmarks. I added stickers I had on hand, punched the curvy top with my tag-maker and voila, instant bookmarks.

paper scrap bookmarks

Bookmarks made from leftover paper scraps

If your busy and yearning for a quick crafting project, give it a try. You can create a small, functional craft in a short amount of time using minimal tools.  I’ve made bookmarks from the old pages of a wall calendar, glossy fashion magazines, postcards and paper scraps. I made one earlier this year using a seed packet.  Let your imagination be your guide.

realtor's calendar bookmark

Bookmark and an envelope made from a realtor’s calendar

calendar bookmark

Paper piecing calendar bookmark

What to do with your surplus:

  • Tuck extras in your favorite places to read. I keep several in my nightstand drawer
  • Use them for stocking stuffers at Christmas
  • Set them out as place-markers at a dinner party. Add your guests initial with stickers or fancy lettering
  • Give them to your child’s teacher as a small thank you gift
  • Drop them off at a LFL in your community
book and bookmarks

Bookmarks and a recent book donation to the LFL

Fairy Garden Cottage: Apply Within

If you talk to any realtor, they’ll say this cottage is move-in ready.

  • Friends and fairies will love this exclusive home, tucked among the ferns
  • Freshly painted inside and out
  • Brand new green roof
  • Window treatments included
  • Stone facade so *no one* can blow your house down

Here’s the scoop.  My teenage son, a huge Halloween fan, loved creating a ‘spooky village’ when he was young. Over the years, we purchased foam crafting kits, balsa wood trees and this cute little house pictured below.

fairy house halloween

He painted the house black and grey and affixed ‘haunted house’ decor. The house went on display in his room for the month of October, along with the other assembled kits.  Then as quickly as it began, it ended.  Last year he said, “You’re free to get rid of it all, Mom.”

The foam houses made it into the shrubs at Halloween providing hide and seek entertainment for the day-care kids next door.  I couldn’t bring myself to toss the house, though.  Where he saw trash, I saw potential.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been rehabbing the balsa house, taking it from spooky to kooky, fairy style.  My hands are a wreck from all the painting and glueing, but my heart is happy and whole.  I’d forgotten how relaxing this creative process is.

Three coats of paint

Three coats of paint

While waiting for layers of paint to dry, I looked at cottages on the net. I liked the idea of a thatched roof and a stone facade. It would be fun to add a small window box  too.

As always, I try using the materials at hand. I like the challenge. Some of the building materials came from the garden. I pulled the rest from “the drawer,” that special place in the kitchen where items of interest lie in wait.

Fairy house remodel

Fairy house remodel

First up, some trim from an old pair of sandals. They were the perfect size for the pitched roof. In the center is a bottle cap, layered with an amber gem. The gem and the curtain lace were once wrapped around a gift from Boomdee. Next, I glued tiny pebbles to the facade and added a front door. I fashioned a door from the outer bark of a sword fern. The tiny handle is a seed.

Using a small scrap of paper and some double-sided tape I made quick work of the planter box. All it needed was a few snips of purple Statice and a window to call its own. Dried moss keeps the house warm and dry. Liberal use of glitter adds the sparkle that fairies know and love.

Please pop in tomorrow for the full reveal: the fairy house is move-in ready, with all sorts of little extras to make a house a home.

Bavarian Nirvana

I’m in Bavarian-Crochet-Knee-Rug-winning nirvana. (Try saying that fast three times).

Yours truly is the lucky winner of the Teddy and Tottie blog giveaway.

DSC_0104

What did I win?

I won this breathtakingly beautiful, amazingly crafted Bavarian Knee Rug.

Bavarian Crochet Knee Rug

Bavarian Crochet Knee Rug

goargeous detail

Gorgeous detail

two sided pattern

The pattern has two distinct sides

I got the news two weeks ago at Teddy and Tottie land.  The package arrived today, all the way from Australia.  Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.  I ran for the camera so I could document its arrival.  A certain feline wondered if it was for him.  After whispering in his ear that I was happy to share, he climbed off the box and I whisked it inside.

Cat-on-a-box

Cat-on-a-box

Getting a package in the mail is high on my list of joyous occasions.  I like to imagine it traveling from place to place before arriving at my door.  Pretty postage, custom forms and hand-stamps add to the thrill.

2014, 05-061

While scrutinizing all the details, I had to do a double take. I thought one of the custom stamps read “Security Screamed”.  Well of course they did. I mean, who wouldn’t scream when they saw what was inside?  The blurred ink actually read “Security Screened.” Ha!

The day I read the news that I’d won, I tried hard to temper my enthusiasm. My lucky win meant a lot of sad faces in the blogging community. Further, just a few months early, I won another lovely prize from The Contented Crafter.  All this goodness after years of never winning a thing.

Thank you, Dani, from the bottom of my heart, for this lovely treasure, and for all the extra goodies you tucked inside.  I love them all!

Please check out the goings on at Teddy and Tottie where Dani blogs about crochet, vintage home decor, pets, garden and home life in south-eastern Australia. You’ll fall in love immediately.

Dani also has an Etsy shop where you can buy her beautiful crochet work for your very own. She also offers vintage treasures.

 

You’re Invited

This is a personal invitation to the 109 entrants who did not win the prize. Please come visit any time. I’ll fluff up the pillows and put the kettle on and you can sit with the Bavarian knee rug across your lap. Feline companionship almost 100% guaranteed.

Garden Wreath Redux

Wonderful things happen when you write a blog. Here are my top three:

Community, community and community.

Last week I posted photos of my attempt at a garden wreath. The wreath had a lot going for it, but it lacked volume and charm.

Garden Wreath Version 1.0

Garden Wreath Version 1.0

I asked for suggestions and received a tremendous outpouring of support.

The Contented Crafter had this to say:  Just this very morning I was discussing my art work with a friend and related how something Jane Davenport once said made a big impression on me and changed the way I viewed my creations.

Jane said [and I paraphrase] ‘Every creation goes through an ugly stage. Do not be put off, do not throw it out, do not walk away. Keep working at it until it becomes beautiful again’.

Not that I’m calling your wreath ugly – it isn’t. It is actually really pretty, and while still in development, shows enormous potential – it just needs more.

Which brings me to my second great life lesson – if a little is good, a lot is better 🙂 Bling it up Alys, bling it up!

In summary, don’t be discouraged.  Add some bling. Borrow seeds from the squirrels.

flowes and seeds

Flowers and seeds

Boomdeeadda added:

I would say you’ve got a lot of beautiful dried flowers but need a sturdier base to build upon. I especially love the hair pin, it’s a pretty detail and unexpected 😀 I also like that you used a loose triangle in your design. The rule of three always works best for arranging flowers. It’s going to be so awesome and I bet it smells really wonderful too.

  • Do you have any thin gauge wire? Here’s what a florist might do.
  • Take everything off and sort.
  • Spray Hydrangea with a bit of hair spray to lessen shedding.
  • make three mixed posies with your remaining dried flowers by wrapping stems with a bit of wire. Vary the sizes (S, M, L). Leave a length of wire to make a small loop.
  • Now, stuff the entire wreath with green sheet moss. Available from gardening stores. Winding thin wire around the wreath as you go. You hardly see it with the moss.

After reading Boomdee’s professional advice, it was tempting to box it up and send it to her with a thank you note.  Instead I behaved myself and took notes.

I took apart the wreath, salvaging the lavender, the ribbon and the hair pin. The hydrangeas were toast so I tossed what remained in the compost bin.

I dragged myself to a craft store (hee!) and picked up a bag of Spanish moss, floral wire and a roll of dusty silver tulle.  I bought purple ribbon as well, but didn’t use it.

garden wreath collage

Starting from scratch

Cindy Knoke cheered me on as did Tami and Marlene, of In Search of it All. Marlene and LB both agreed that moss would give it some oomph.  Where the Journey Takes Me suggested the great and powerful Google for dried wreath inspiration.  Additional thanks to Sheryl at Flowery Prose.

Anne Lawson said: bling it up! When I paint there is often a point where I despair and think “it’s not working!” That’s the time to keep going, as many times it does come together.

I gathered lavender and sage in twice the quantities to allow for natural shrinkage when dried.  The hydrangeas were un-salvageable.  I used three of the flowers from a vase in my room.  I sprayed them first with hairspray to prevent shedding.  I added dried seeds from the Bachelor Buttons, and then stuffed all the gaps with moss.  The wire helped keep everything in place.

I dug out my Christmas ornaments early, remembering this cute set of watering cans, a gift from my sister-in-law many years ago.  The size and color worked well.  I added tulle to the original ribbon for a larger bow, placed dried lavender in the watering can and added the hair clip.

Garden Wreath Details

Garden Wreath Details

2nd wreath

Wreath Version 2.0

It’s still a bit lopsided, but overall I like it so much better. I’ve dubbed it the Village Wreath, as I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

XOX