Crafty Pumpkins

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Happy Halloween!

Jack o lantern

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The Crazy Quilt: up-cycling memories in patches

Crazy quilting was a Victorian fad for using up bits of leftover fabric and scraps of old clothing, especially velvets and brocades. Each bit of cloth is embroidered around the edges by hand with elaborate stitches. There is no set pattern. The quilter can make muslin squares and then just tack on patch after patch randomly as the mood or material inspires them.

I made a crazy quilt for each of my children incorporating bits of their baby clothes, favorite blanket and other spare fabric from household projects. I embroidered their name and birthdate on each.

Then I began a quilt for myself but I put it away unfinished in the toy chest… Sewing projects

Sewing projects hiding in the toy chest
Empty toy chest

The toy chest emptied during the Great Declutter

and forgot about it until the recent Great Declutter of my house. I felt inspired to either finish the quilt or turn the bits into potholders. In the last couple of weeks, I finished enough patches for a laptop quilt. I have sewn them into strips and sewn most of the strips together. I gave up on the idea of embroidering them lavishly because I am getting impatient. When all the squares are sewn together, I will need help putting the border, back and edging on. Sewing machines and I just don’t get along. I sew by hand or not at all. Perhaps my Crappy Crafter group will take pity on me and help finish the project? I’ll make chicken cacciatore or spaghetti with clam sauce or whatever culinary bribe it takes. And wine, I think a nice Cotes du Rhône goes well with a crazy quilt, don’t you?

Crazy quilt

Crazy quilt patches sewn together in strips

Crazy quilt reverse side

Reverse side of crazy quilt

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Trompe L’Oeil: the story of a (fake) wall

As I typed in the title of the post, I realized it could be taken as a double entendre about a current issue in U. S. politics. But that’s another story. In this one, there is a an old house, with cracked plaster walls and a crafty owner. If you have an old house with real plaster and lath walls, walls that aren’t square, worn steps, small closets and other charming features, you have three options.

1. Live with the quirks

2. Throw money at the problem

3. Fix it yourself

The wall leading down from the kitchen to the side door has always been bumpy, lumpy and cracked. So years ago when all kinds of paint effects were a popular do it yourself decorating trend, I sponged, rag-rolled, and stenciled the walls to distract from its imperfections. Great! Problem solved, I thought…

Stenciled plaster wall with welcoming pineapple design

Stenciled plaster stairwell with welcoming pineapple motif

Stenciled wall

Stenciling to disguise lumpy plaster wall

UNTIL…the upstairs tub sprung a leak in the middle of the night and tons of plaster fell out of the kitchen ceiling beneath. No one heard a thing and no one was hurt. These old plaster-walled houses are so sound-proof! I walked into the kitchen to make coffee and the ceiling was on the floor! Even the dog looked surprised.

SO THEN…the plumbers came and dug out the wall I had just decorated to get to the pipes. They commented a lot on these sturdy old houses and put up wallboard in the hole they created, slapping some white spackle on top and then they left, leaving only a big white patch and a big bill. Did I hear them chuckling about clueless old-house owners? Surely not.

SO NOW…the wall had a big white rectangle in the midst of the beautifully stenciled part.

My wallet being a lot thinner at that point, I decided to ‘fix’ the wall by painting it to look like the wall was broken through to an old brick wall beneath. I added a vine crawling up the rustic hole in the wall. (Are you with me on the wall within the wall with the final fake wall here?) It was not a super-realistic trompe l’oeil but I was pretty pleased with my frugal problem solving.

Fake brick wall mural

Brick wall painted on wallboard on a damaged stenciled plaster wall

BUT WAIT! There’s more. There is no rest for the weary old-house owner. One morning, my teenage son galumphed down the stairs carrying his one-hundred pound back pack over one shoulder. The back pack swung into the plasterboard patch and took it right out. There was a hole in the middle of the fake wall which covered the real wall, if you are following here.

SO THEN… I went to the local hardware store to consult with the experts. I patched the wall with some patching thingummy textile stuff and repainted the missing fake bricks. Fast forward almost two decades, the kitchen painter wants to know if he should paint over the whole hallway because the patch is beginning to peel off.

Nope… I can’t quite give up the history, so I re-glue the patch for now. That galumphing son now has an old house of his own and his own galumphing sons. Heh heh…

Old stenciled wall

The old kitchen wall

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Making Stenciled Easter Cards

Easter Cards stenciled

Easter Greeting Cards

You know those little books of stencils for children? Dover Press publishes them, I think. Or they used to years ago. The Great Declutter uncovered a box of stencils and I have gone all kindergarten stenciling Spring and Easter cards. It’s a fun craft for kids or adults. The Easter eggs are cut from wrapping paper.

Stenciled Easter card’s

Stenciled Easter card’s

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The Story of a Chair

Old chair painted pink

The Old Chair

Years ago, my mother saved this chair and it’s twin from the dumpster when a local club redecorated. It was then a sturdy, hardwood, hardworking, plain old chair from mid Twentieth Century or earlier. After years of use in the house I grew up in, the chair passed to me for my first apartment. It has moved to six different cities with me. At some point I painted it Pepto Bismol pink, because I was in a furniture-painting phase and I had a can of Pepto pink paint. Then I stenciled it for my kids using their little book of Dover stencils and by cutting stencils out of index cards, a quick but effective way to stencil if you don’t mind rough edges. I happened to have some yellow and blue paint so that’s what I used. The whole crafty evolution of this chair has been completely haphazard and unplanned, but the chair lives on in my studio. It is surprisingly comfortable and steady. And despite its casual flaws, I won’t ever strip it back to bare wood as my brother did with the matching chair. It has personality. If my chair met my brother’s chair, I don’t think they would recognize each other.

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Crafting Roundup

My recent house decluttering project had me going through vast piles of craft supplies and unfinished projects. I put as many as I could in a large bin and vowed to stop saving, buying, or otherwise hoarding craft stuff. The next step was to invite the Crappy Crafters over for a clean out the closet crafting evening.

Table of craft supplies

Table displaying craft supplies for crafting evening

Like book clubs, the craft group gatherings require dinner. I was so busy serving food that I did not get photos of anyone’s projects, but everyone had a good time, stayed late and left with their crafts, so I think this was a success even though the volume of stuff did not significantly diminish.

The next day, I painted two old slates with grey paint and stenciled flowers on them and played with other bits and pieces – see below.

Stenciled slate craft

Stenciled slate

Stenciled slate craft

Stenciled slate with paper tape

Various craft projects

Paper eggs, paper boxes, paper wallet

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