Monday, March 31, 2008

Soap Making for the faint of heart

It's no lye!

You don't have to deal with chemical reactions if you don't want to. Melt n' Pour Soap is a class we offer where you do just that- melt and then pour.

It can be very creative and rewarding!


Friday, March 28, 2008

We are in the LA Times Guide!


March 27, 2008

Action Man: Making Soap

By -- Liam.Gowing

SOAP. On a rope, in a bar, in a jar, it's one of those everyday inventions we take for granted. And it is an invention. Unlike salt, it doesn't occur naturally or, like cinnamon, grow on trees. So what is soap anyway, and how is it made?

These were the questions I brought to the Urban Craft Center, a spacious, loft-style workshop in Santa Monica. Launched last year by Angharad Jones, a longtime crafter, the UCC offers classes in a stupefying array of home arts and crafts, including soap-making, which, at $80, is the Rolls Royce of the curriculum.

Taught by UCC studio manager Carolyn Crosse, my two-hour tutorial began with a short history. "Soap is actually a pretty ancient art," Crosse explained, citing its accidental discovery by Romans washing their clothes in rivers at the foot of sacrificial altars, where ash and animal fats would collect after rain.

Fascinating. Would my classmates -- three congenial thirtysomething ladies -- and I begin our class by likewise sacrificing a goat to Apollo? Not quite.

Pursuing a strictly vegan recipe, we were each given a Crock-Pot set to "low," three kinds of oil -- coconut, palm and olive -- a beaker of water and a tub of powdered lye. Following directions, we dumped the oils into the pot and, while waiting for them to heat up, selected two or three prefab soap molds and perused an assortment of optional fragrances such as lavender and peppermint.

Then, after donning gloves, glasses and gas masks, we added the highly alkaline lye to the water. Expecting explosions, smoke or at least a little fizzle, I was slightly underwhelmed. The beaker just got hot.

"That's the chemical reaction," Crosse explained.

"What kind of reaction?" I asked, intrigued.

"A chemical reaction," she replied.


With the lye dissolved moments later, we dumped the solution into the hot pot with the oil, whisked it together with an electric mixer until it took a meringue-like consistency, and waited for "saponification" to occur, which was pretty neat: The mixture expanded like a soufflé; fatty pools of glycerin rose to the surface. And voila! After about 20 minutes, we had soap, ready -- after an ounce or two of fragrance was added -- to be spread into the molds, where it would harden into bars overnight.

All in all, soap-making was fun. I came away with a dozen handsome bath bars and the knowledge to make more. Still, for $80, I think I should have gotten a goat -- not to sacrifice necessarily -- maybe just to have a goat.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Black Lace

I love lace!

I think it is the ultimate feminine accessory...delicate...intricate...

Then again I have a friend who says that lace makes her think of "dust and death." I don't personally think that lace connotes granny's vintage each her own.

To knit lace is definitely a time investment. Angharad completed this beautiful black shawl a few months back. What a masterpiece! Gorgeous! But certainly a labor of love- 2 years of love! (Of course, at the same time she started and finished many, many other projects during these 2 years!)


Angharad's black lace shawl

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Paper Making is so fun!

I only made one of the pieces of paper from that whole batch of paper I posted about earlier- entitled: 'Recycling paper...literally!'

I was able to tell which one was the piece that I made because if you look closely you can see a bit of text that came through and it was the word 'China'. (You can click on the single sheet, to enlarge the photo, and will be able to read it). I was hooked. That little bit of unexpectedness got me so excited to make more paper.

Here's my latest batch:


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Public Craft


Pergola - Northern Italyindustrial lace fence
in Pergola, Italy
knit tree
in Yellow Springs, OH
knit pole
in Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Seuss-esque felted sculpture
at the Largo-Kettering Branch Library, Largo, MD

Monday, March 24, 2008

Scrap material

Recognize the fabric? The lower 2 are from my shopping tote project that I blogged about a few days ago. The top one is the extra fabric Jenna brought with her to make her shopping tote. Thanks for the scraps! I made these fragrant herb sachets and filled them with lavender buds. Great for your closet. If you have enough material for a long rectangle, they make a soothing eye pillow.

Nothing is wasted here!


Saturday, March 22, 2008


Speaking of Gocco Screen Printing - here's my latest:
I bought this stamp at the Pomona Quilt Show.

Each blog has it's unique header or title image that introduces it at the top. A symbol that the blogger identifies with. If I decide to create a personal blog, I'll use this stamp as mine. I love the clean, slender lines.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Printed Easter Goodness!

I find this image absolutely charming! I found it here.

This effect could be achieved using the Gocco Screen Printing machines we have here.


fern animal glow in the dark

fro Ashley's blog: "

This project is a collaboration between Fern Animals and Velle Magazine. We have all been working this for months now, and I am so excited to finally be releasing it!

This exclusive glowing Fern Animal is completely hand embroidered with glow in the dark thread, and comes in a hand made glowing carrying case produced by Velle.

The animal is made from recycled linen that was pulled from the back of an Audubon print (I have a book conservation friend!) and is stuffed with 100% Natural Organic Cotton.

The carry case is hand made from natural wool felt, clear vinyl and polymer, and is also stitched with glow in the dark thread.

This is the first in a very small edition of only six glowing animals!

The auction begins tonight, March 20th at 10pm EST, and will be up for five days, ending Monday March 24th at 10 pm EST." Link.


happy easter

- The UCC

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Steven Darden...our wire hero

who will so happen to be teaching a class here! I met Steven about two months ago and he was selling a few of his wire figure at a charity auction and they absolutely blew me away. These spiders here are made from paper clips, copper and steel wire and stuff that he found on the streets around his neighbor. link.

He will be teaching a class on how to make the wired spider on Saturday April 26th at the UCC. link.


Moxie has out done herself....she is the felting queen!

I am definitely a needle felting aficionado but Made by Moxie just....tops the cake with this. Holy smokes....I can't even imagine how long that took her to do....she must of used her monster 18 needle felting tool that she made herself. Playfully interpretation of Little Big Dog. :)
[via]. Link.


Needle Felted Easter Goodness!

I saw Miss. Potter recently and enjoyed it very much. It is about Beatrix Potter, the creator behind the Peter Rabbit story series. I am very inspired by her- the Beatrix Potters and J.K. Rowlings out there who can find success through their visions- devising complete little worlds. A goal of mine is to write and illustrate a children's book someday...

I found these adorable needle felted Peter Rabbit bunnies here, just in time for Easter.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Finished sewing projects! And they're reversible!

I'm sure that I'm not alone here, but I love taking the 'U' out of 'UFO' and making a Finished Object (from an Un-Finished Object).

Repurposed Western shirt/skirt - from Candi Cancel's class.
It's reversible! I arranged for pockets on both sides.
My shopping tote.
I stitched the straps together at the top, so maybe this project would be more accurately described as semi-reversible.

Friday, March 14, 2008

World Famous Crochet Museum

The World Famous Crochet Museum- does anybody know about this place? It's right outside of Joshua Tree, CA.

I was just in Joshua Tree on Monday, but didn't read about this place till yesterday!

This darling little desert gem was written about in the same issue of Craftzine as yesterday's blog posting.


Mark this up on your 'to do' list- after visiting the world's largest ball of yarn- and don't miss the 'poodle wing.'

Thursday, March 13, 2008

TOO MUCH! Again!!!

Oh my goodness, I can't breath, I am hyperventilating, this is really TOO MUCH!

You have to check out this site. It is in Japanese, but just scroll around and click on things and you'll get the tour. There's a particularly cute miniature doll house. I came across it looking back to an old Craftzine blog entry from November, 2006.

Again, nature-derived...everything is made out of nutshells...which means...everything is mini!

We love mini-sized things here, and of course things nature-derived, and well, nuts too!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Speaking of thinking outside of the box...

...I came across these nature-derived jewelry pieces by Terhi Tolvanen on one of my favorite blogs (Found Object) - and they are just gorgeous!

I do love it when Mixed-Media really works - it looks purposeful and as natural as the objects themselves.


glass, silk, pressed wood
gold, tourmaline, wood, textile
tourmaline, glass, silk, wood

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Speaking of Quilts...

...I like quilts that think outside of the box:


found here:
found here:
found here:
found here:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tutorial-how to sew a double-sided strap

This is a wonderful tutorial courtesy of Fat Orange Cat. Easy, clear and clean favorite! [via] link.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Story Boards

I was looking around at the myriad of blogs out there, as per usual, and came across this wonderful little Peruvian quilt here.

It reminded me of this old story board I had as a kid which depicted all of the main fairy tales compiled onto one large panel. It hung across the wall above my bed and each night my parents would tell me a different bedtime story using it as a reference. One night it would be Cinderella arriving at the ball in her pumpkin carriage, follow the same road down a bit and there would be The Three Little Pigs inside their houses of varying sturdiness. Travel further along said road and you might happen upon The Muffin Man selling his Hot Cross Buns....

Which then reminded me...

...remember the old felt boards you had as a child? They were great- and they forced you to use your imagination in a similar way...but then went even further by being interactive.


(aw, Goodnight Moon, my favorite!)

Goldilocks And The Three Bears

Show & Tell kit

Old felt board

...and who remembers Colorforms?

(I personally don't remember these, but thought them apt. Apparently, my boyfriend had the one for Happy Days....).

Friday, March 7, 2008

Our fabric from the Pomona Quilt Show

What fun we had yesterday! Here's a sampling of some of the goodies we got:
(click to enlarge)



I hate wasting...really...almost to a fault. After our paper making experiment (pssttt...something in the air tells me that we might offer it as a class soon)....we had some leftover paper mulch so let's see what happens to these little guys over the next few days....