21 June 2021

More Indian Block Printing Projects

I'm excited you are here and thankful that you stopped by! A few weeks ago, I wrote about Indian Block Printing.

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I learned the basics of Indian Block Printing through a virtual class. We were each given a kit complete with paint, sponges, and wood blocks. Initially, we decorated a few gift tags.

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Then, when we were confident, we used the block prints on fabric...TADA!

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I turned the fabric into gift wrap. The Japanese call this Furoshiki. That way, the receiver of this gift can reuse the fabric in other ways -- as a headband, hair tie, pocket square, or wrap another present. 

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Then I remembered that I bought this carved wood block a few years ago. I got it from a gift shop in Austin, Texas. I never used it but now I know how.

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Just like our teacher instructed in the class, I made an ink pad. I put a few drops of paint on a flat surface (this is a takeout container), positioned the sponge on top of the paint, and tapped the wood block on the sponge until the paint lifted to the surface of the sponge.

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I kept tapping until the paint transferred to the wood block.

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Then I stamped onto the fabric.

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I just repeated the design in a straight line, inking the wood block each time after stamping.

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This is another piece of fabric where I experimented with a more playful layout.

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Indian Block Printing instantly turns these pieces of scrap fabric from blah to TADA!

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I sewed the sides of my block printed fabric together to make small pouches.

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I assigned a button and elastic string as a closure mechanism.

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These small pouches will become jewelry gift bags...TADA!

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Since I had more scrap fabric on hand, I took out the liquid dye to give it a new look. 
 
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I was going for a rough ombre look, mimicking the ocean.

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My fish-shaped wood block added some life.

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I stamped randomly, as if the fishies were doing somersaults. 

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I sewed the edges and sides to make a bag.

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I folded the open end...

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And likewise added a button and elastic string allowing the bag to be closed.

These will become gift sacks, a more sustainable solution to wrapping presents...TADA!

14 June 2021

A Snack and a Craft : Limes and Lemons

Today I am inspired by limes and lemons.

They're available all year round and I love the citrusy brightness that they add to a dish, whether sweet or savory.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite desserts: Key Lime Pie! You can use regular limes since key limes are not easy to find. This pie is always a crowd-pleaser!

Key Lime Pie
from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2011

Ingredients for the Pie Filling
4 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons grated zest plus 1/2 cup juice from 3 or 4 limes
1 can (14-ounce) sweetened condensed milk

Ingredients for the Graham Cracker Crust
8 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons sugar

Ingredients for the Topping
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners' sugar

Procedure:
1. For the pie filling: Whisk the egg yolks and lime zest together
in a medium bowl until the mixture has a light green tint, about
2 minutes. Whisk in the condensed milk until smooth, then whisk 
in the lime juice. Cover the mixture and set aside at room 
temperature until thickened, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare and bake the graham cracker crust. Adjust 
an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 
325 degrees Fahrenheit. Process the graham cracker pieces in a 
food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle
the butter and sugar over the crumbs and pulse to incorporate. 
Sprinkle the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Use the bottom of a 
measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even layer on the 
bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until the crust is 
fragrant and beginning to brown, 13-18 minutes. Transfer the 
pie plate to a wire rack and leave the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 
(The crust must still be warm when the filling is added.)

3. Pour the thickened filling into the warm pie crust. Bake the pie
until the the center is firm but jiggles slightly when shaken, 15 -20
minutes. Let the pie cool slightly on a wire rack, about 1 hour, 
then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling
is chilled and set, about 3 hours.

4. For the topping: Before serving, whip the cream and sugar 
together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low 
speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to 
high and continue to whip until the cream forms soft peaks, 1 to 3 
minutes. Spread the whipped cream attractively on top of the pie
and serve. 


Now that we've got the snack covered, let's make a craft. 

I'm turning a empty cookie box from blah to TADA!

Instead of tossing it out, I gave it a few coats of acrylic paint:

The goal is to conceal all the labels and markings.

Now it's a blank slate, ready to be decorated.

Of course, you can add anything from stickers and cut-outs, or ribbon and washi tape.

But in keeping with the citrus theme, I painted on these lemons. 

They look like they were just picked from a tree.

And I love how they remind me of sunshine.

It's a top-fold box that's very spacious inside.

I can add some shredded paper and nest in some gifts...TADA! Then I can close the lid with washi tape and embellish with a yellow bow.

And since Father's Day is coming up, the Dad in your life may just enjoy some Key Lime Pie and a few surprises that can be tucked inside the lemon-themed gift box...TADA!

07 June 2021

Repurpose Ribbon Remnants

Hi guys! I hope you had a swell weekend.

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I like to save ribbon. Ribbon from gifts, ribbon left on spools, name it, I keep it. They are pretty useful for all kinds of crafts.

But when they're too short for anything, this is what I do:

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I tie them to paperclips! Instantly, they become page markers.

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I use them to mark the recipes I want to try in my favorite cookbooks.

Ribbon remnants...transformed from blah to TADA!

31 May 2021

Bookmarks That Say Thank You

I celebrated my birthday in April, my second one in quarantine, but I didn't really mind because I feel more connected to old friends from across the globe because of technology. I get text greetings and we are able to hang out on video conferencing platforms. 

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This year, a group of my dearest friends surprised me with a virtual birthday card. The theme was "arts and crafts" (they know me so well)! 

Each one of them made a craft, showed it off in a photo, and they wrote me wishes that really lifted me up and are giving me a boost of confidence. The crafts ranged from hand lettering, painting on canvas, coloring pages, poetry, drawing, decorating gift bags, and flower arranging. I hope that as they created they felt a sense of calm and a feeling of pride when they finished. 

I got so tickled with their masterpieces! As a thank you, I made them these bookmarks:

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They are hand-painted and hand lettered with watercolors and the concept is a like a jigsaw puzzle where each person perfectly fits into a bigger picture. 

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I started with a blank watercolor sheet, a paint brush, and my reliable watercolor palette.

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I decided on a repeating pattern, choosing happy colors like yellow.

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Two kinds of yellow! Because these friends are sunshine and positivity. We always have a good time. We laugh at the corniest jokes. We also offer encouragement when some of us are having a rough season. We pray for each other.

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A blue moon because real friends are rare and must be treasured. 

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Some tears, both happy and sad, that we've all shared together.

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And a final touch of rosy pink. This is the backdrop I painted, symbolic of our friendship...TADA!

According to an article I read recently, this is what is described as meditative painting: "being mindful and present while putting paint on paper."

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I marked the painting into 12 equal parts.

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Then cut out the pieces.

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I painted the name of each friend, saying a prayer for them as I did it: "Dear God, thank you for Lisa and our years of friendship. Please give her good health and strength, bless her family, and please meet her needs."

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I did the same for each name that I wrote. I sent a photo of their bookmark to the recipient and promised to give it to them personally when it's safe to see each other.

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We're scattered all over the world and yet our bond remains strong.  We are different but we've proven that we go so well together. 

That's why today, I celebrate friendship and all the rewards that come with it, including receiving the most thoughtful birthday surprise. Friends definitely transform life from "blah to TADA!"

24 May 2021

Floral Embroidery

I hope you had some nice weather this weekend! It's starting to feel like summer here in the East Coast. But whatever the season, crafting is always on my agenda.

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Last Wednesday, I joined the Makerie Community for "A Playful Pause," a virtual crafting session. 

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We started out with some hand yoga led by Heidi Parkes. I've never done hand yoga before and I think I should do it every morning or when I need to relax my hands.

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Then master quilter Zak Foster introduced the activity:

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We had to sew without looking! It was hard! But we relied on our fingertips to be our eyes. We tried it out by sewing a straight line, then sewing a shape (my attempt at a heart), and finally a word. My word was "leap" -- a reminder that I should just go for it without overthinking. But the "P" looks like a "D" so the word can be "lead" (as in "leadership" and not "lead" the chemical).  This activity made me extra grateful for the sense of sight and that I should be open to new techniques that challenge my creativity.

*****

It's all about sewing today. Personally, I am very drawn to handicrafts with floral embroidery. It reminds me of my childhood. We had tablecloths and pillow covers decorated with embroidery. I also learned embroidery in school -- we made a bag and a layette (linen for baby) for Practical Arts. Embroidery is one of my first forays into crafting. Embroidery also makes me feel safe.   

Here is a bag that I purchased in a Bangkok market many, many years ago:

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The cloth is linen and the handles are made out of wood.

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Lazy-daisy flowers and small seashells are sewn on it.

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I love that it doesn't look like the mass produced bags of today and I can imagine an artisan leisurely working on this while humming her favorite song.

I hardly use this bag now but I've kept it as a souvenir from that memorable trip (maybe I should frame it).

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This is a pencil skirt that I've owned for more than a decade. 

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I fell in love with the colors and the floral stitching.

Taking a cue from these items, I applied some embroidery to turn some items in my closet from blah to TADA!

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This is an old wallet that has been hiding in a box in my closet.

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To give it life, I added some 3-dimensional stitching that I learned on Pinterest...TADA!

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I also embroidered a pair of shoes that developed a small hole. I thought that was a sneaky solution to cover it up. Apart from the hole, it was still in good shape.

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I drew the flowers with white pencil.

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Then I slowly made the stitches.

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Now, I am able to wear the shoes again (and the compliments aren't so bad either)...TADA!

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I used the same floral embroidery technique to decorate this handmade face mask...TADA! Always good to keep it handy even if mask mandates are being lifted.

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And finally here is a shawl that was looking blah. Sewing was a bit of a challenge because of the thin material but the flowers embroidered on it gives it more personality...TADA!

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How about you, are you a fan of embroidery?