Crafts in Review: simple gifts #2 by maya made

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Being the youngest of four siblings, I can appreciate the whole “learning from other`s mistakes” bit. And what applies to spanking avoidance techniques, also applies to crafts. For this purpose, I would like to offer my most recent crafting mistake.

So last weekend…er, the weekend before last, I set out to make the best Valentines gifts known to man. My pre-crafting positivity (readable in my last post) was later crushed. Who was I to find a project by a crafting magician and think to myself, “I could do that”. But isn`t that the pitt of agrivation and destruction we all fall into? Every once in a while that is. Below lie the details of my almost crafting fail. Enjoy.

So this story starts on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The weather was finally warming up and so the walk I needed to make to find a store which sold gardening parephenalia started off quite fine. I found the nearest みつわ (a DIY store of sorts, plus general oddities of the low price range variety) and as I had hoped they had an attached gardening section. Unlike the amazing planner the crafter I borrowed this idea from, I was trying to pull off what she created a few weeks before gifting, a few days before. She had planted bulbs and nurtured them to little sprouts, so I figured I could skip the nurturing bit and just buy me some sprouts! Also, I could not find plant bulbs and did not have the slightest clue how to ask for them/what sort of store would carry them in Japan, ergo – no bulbs for me, baby. I found some overpriced sprouts which had ヒアシンス (hiyanshinsu) and had no freaking clue what they were but that they looked nice and so I bought three: pink, white and yellow. I did later discover when one of the ladies read the katakana outloud that it was in fact a hyacinth which I had given her. Moving on…

The walk back to my apartment was full of triumph. The sun was shining on me and my little box of mystery sprouts and I felt that surely today was my day. Magic was going to happen. So I got all my gear together, the recycle-ready soup cans, the pebbles for drainage, the soil, and the plants. Little did I know I would not get very far before hitting a major roadblock. First, I figured I should get all the paper and sticky gook off the outside of the cans. I thought a little hot water and soap would do the trick – noooooo…that crazy glue Campbell`s uses for their labels was like kryptonite to my supercrafty cleaning ideals. After only one sorry looking can, I gave that idea up. I figured I would just cover the outside up somehow and leave the cans be.

The next few steps were simple: I added the pebbles to the bottom of each soup can. Success! Okay, feeling good. Then, there was the trick of getting the sprouts into the cans while adding a little extra soil and such. Well! Those sprouts must have been eating too much junk food, because they would not fit into those little soup cans. Also, I was slightly wary of slicing open an artery on the sharp edge of the can`s opening. Why didn`t someone tell me I would need chainmail and a shrinking machine to complet this craft?

I stood there. My hands covered in dirt, a hefty sprout lying vulnerably on the table, roots out for all to see and a sinking feeling that this was not my day and this project was doomed. There was an inkling of recognition that my inability to find the specific flower bulbs outlined in the instructions may be the cause of my current debaucle, but I smothered that thought with feelings of betrayal. Et tu Brute? Stabbed in the back by my own crafting community, left to bleed out on the floor of my apartment with no hope of reviving the Valentine craft that was destined to rule them all!

After I became aware that I was still breathing, a thought so simple and revolutionary came to mind: why not find bigger containers? I pillaged my recycling bin in search of larger tins and returned to my kitchen table most victoriously. Thank God I have a weakness for honey roasted peanuts and had held on to a large pasta sauce tin from many moons ago. The three larger tins worked out perfectly! The sprouts fit into all three quite well and then all that was left to do was to cover the outside of the tins with left over bits of ribbon, felt and such. The finishing touch was a little wooden planter label with the flower name and “Happy Valentines” written on with felt.

As with all the other crafts I have tried in the past, after completing the Valentines gifts I looked at the finished product, the surrounding wreckage and my mental state, weighing the pros and cons of the adventure.

Craft in Review: maya made`s  Simple Gifts #2

Finished Product: Cute, but could have been cuter/easier if I had got my hands on those mini burlap sacs used in the crafter`s originals.

Wreckage: Several soup cans I must rewash for recycling; way too much left over soil and pebbles; kitchen table and surrounding area covered in dirt and plant bits.

Mental State Post-Craft: Pleased to actually have a finished product, but slightly disheveled from the experience…still shudder when imagining cutting myself on sharp tin soup can opening. Ugh.

Time Commitment: Just short of epic.

Conclusion: Unfortunately for all the leftover material, I can not see myself attempting this feat again anytime in the near future. Though I managed to pull it off, it was far more time consuming than I had anticipated and the amount of mess outweighs the amount of craft created.

That said, I was very happy when one lady told me that her hyacinth started blooming yesterday. So, if you are the gardening type, or if you are friends with those kinds of people, this might be just the project for you. Just be sure to follow the instructions. This is not the project for shortcuts : lesson learned.


Grow a little lovin`

February 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

So in Japan it takes a lot of effort to dispose of certain items. Every trash item must be sorted first into either burnable or non-burnable. Then, the non-burnable items must be further separated into categories of plastic, tin, bottles, and on and on. Not only does garbage need to be sorted, but there are particular days when each of these items can be taken to the neighbourhood garbage disposal to be picked up by the singing garbage collecting trucks. It`s quite the process and unless you are a rocket scientist or Martha Stewart, certain garbage days are forgotten and items are overlooked, soon piling up in the small storage areas of one`s apartment. Some items I am completely at a loss as to which category they belong to and others I have forgotten the disposal day…and so they sit. For example, I have completely forgotten which day I can get rid of my tin cans and so have grown a rather impressive collection of tin soup and tuna cans, washed and ready to be joined with their tin brothers and sisters in can after-life, but they are stuck in recycling limbo.

Now, what in the world do my trash issues have to do with Valentines day? Well, in my search for the next great project to transform this holiday into a crafting opportunity, I stumbled upon a magical little craft. Now if a fairy-god-mother can turn a pumpkin into a carriage, then a little crafting can turn my trash into sweet Valentines gifts. The blogger who posted this made it as a Christmas gift, but I figure with some small adjustments to presentation these could easily be given a Valentines theme. May I present, Tuesdays craft, the recycled flower planter!

A craft blog called maya made, is what superstar craft blogs are made of. She has creativity oozing out of her pores! That site is full of goodies, but we will borrow her tin can planters today. There are easy instructions on the site and since I already have many of the materials I think I may just be able to pull this off before February 14th…maybe. Of course, not everyone appreciates the `challenge` of growing plants, so I couldn’t bless everyone with these, but I am sure I can find something more low maitenance for the rest of my friends. Doshio…

Do you have a suggestion? What was a great Valentines gift you got and why was it so great? I mean, I just want to figure out what kind of competition I am up against, because if it’s the ‘maya made’ kind I already know where I stand on that scale. As one of my friends said tonight, I am the everyman crafter. Thanks, Hillary. I’ll try to remember that and not attempt world domination through crafting…yet anyways.

Valentines Haters Anonymous

February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Valentines seems to get a lot of flack. When you think that Valentines is supposed to be a day for love, there is a lot of hatin’ going on. There are the chronically single, who find the awareness of their condition to be heightened by such a holiday: one friend referred to it as, “single persons awareness day”. Then there are the love spurned, who bitterly detest all that Valentines represents and may dedicate that sacred day to pay homage to Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin for a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T. And how about the Hallmark haters? For these individuals the celebration of Valentines and similar holidays is a matter of morality. Money hungry greeting card companies must be stopped and meaningless holidays boycotted. They will not celebrate with the buying of frivolous folded pieces of paper; they will not be wooed into a sugar coma of compliance by the abundance of teeth rotting heart-shaped goodies. No, they stand in their fight against outrageous romantic delirium that threatens humanity.

Now, unless you have always been among the “in a relationship” and it’s not “complicated” crowd, then at some time you will have found yourself hating on this particular holiday. Personally, I can relate to all three of the above categories of Valentine haters. That said, there are ways to cope my friends. Welcome to VHA: Valentine Haters Anonymous. Let the healing begin.

Let us join together in a united effort to bring back the love. In highschool I used to give little gifties to my single girlfriends on Valentines. It may have been a simple act of consolation, but there is no denying that it made the day a heck of a lot more festive. It softened the blow of being the only person in class not to get a candy-gram. THEREFORE, this week a red ribbon will be dedicated to little ways that we can all craftily cope…no, not only cope, but enjoy this upcoming holiday. And no projects will involve doilies or pipe cleaners. Pinky swear.

To begin, we go with a new twist on an old classic: the Valentines Card. This site posts printable cards themed with romantic inventions. The cards have the original patent illustrations, short descriptions of the invention and a quirky pick-up line. You can print them of for FREE.


How nifty is that, right? I think they are cheeky but not cheesy which is hard to come by in a store. But check out the original site and you can find a variety of cards with all the hard work done! I like how the poster calls himself a “maker” – I mean crafting tends to get a old lady rap so I can see why he would choose a term which is a little more masculine…almost Biblical. Anyways, all you have to do is press print. Let’s show our friends a little love.

all hail the conquering crochet animals!

February 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Japanese are well known for their meticulous handicrafts and though there are many traditional crafts worth blogging about, I find myself weak at the knees for a more modern take on Japanese crafting. It`s called amigurumi. According to good ol` Wikipedia, the name comes from two Japanese words: ami (crocheted or knitted) and nuigurumi (stuffed doll). Amigurumi can be modeled after animals or figments of some crafter`s imagination. Now, get this, Wikipedia says and I quote; “The pervading aesthetic of amigurumi is cuteness. To this end, typical amigurumi animals have an over-sized spherical head on a cylindrical body with undersized extremities”. もちろん!Of course, these little creatures only live to spread the cuteness. After all, they originated in Japan.

Personally, I have only made one amigurumi. It was a giant Snoopy. It was super fun to make and ofcourse, so cute, but he was bought and so I no longer have him in my possession (though I heard his human is taking good care of him). So, in honour of this great new crafting past-time, I have collected pictures of amigurumi with the highest cuteness factor I could find on my internet ramblings. Click on the photo to go to the original site.

 cup-cake cuteness!

“gourmet” amigurumi

Amigurumi Darth Vader

PATTERN for Darth Vader - Star Wars Mini Amigurumi

Okay so this one is just because the picture looks like salary-man propoganda.

If you like what you see, you MUST go to this Flickr site by TADAs Revolution. It is jam-packed with cute amigurumi animals photographed in scenes that are pretty freaking hilarious. I couldn`t post them, because all the photos are protected, but seriously, check it out.

With this kind of craft it seems the only limits are the reaches of your imagination, so craft on and may the force be with you.

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