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Fallout: New Jersey

"When Dystopia Rising went well, there were moments that felt natural, perfect. My first night was filled with gang warfare and hunts for a cult of radiation-worshipping Social Darwinists, but one of the parts I remember best was sitting next to a busker who played me a song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, gave a mythologized retelling of the musical, and ended up explaining the origins of a group I believe was called the Church of Daft Punk" -- The Verge on playing in the massively complex post-apocalyptic LARP ( Live Action Role Playing) game, Dystopia Rising.
posted by The Whelk on Aug 9, 2014 - 10 comments

How to turn Barbies into Doctor Who Weeping Angels

"Six Barbies, two cans of primer, two cans of Stone paint, four bags of feathers, less than half a yard of fabric, (a Dremel), miles of hot glue, and a shit-ton of patience." The result: Weeping Barbie Angels.
posted by DarlingBri on Jul 2, 2014 - 42 comments

The Swants Dance

Once upon a time, on a now defunct site called Regretsy, there was a post about an Etsy-listed pair of "skants", priced at a mere $758(USD). Much mockery ensued, and skants became a meme of sorts, with Regretsy readers sending site owner April Winchell their own skants pictures. And now knitwear designer Stephen West has taken up the skants gauntlet by bringing us the next evolution in skants: swants. He's posted a tutorial on how to make your own swants, and a video of the Swants Dance. Swants promise to be bigger than skants ever were. Since Stephen West posted his tutorial on November 4, swants have appeared on The Today Show, on Boing Boing, and on Cosmopolitan's blog, as well as on a number of other blogs and news sites. Will you be doing the Swants Dance?
posted by orange swan on Nov 15, 2013 - 51 comments

Urban Fantasy Garden

Magdalena Bors constructs and photographs fantastical landscapes in domestic spaces. Her site doesn't make it easy to link specific images, so check out the different galleries under Images.
posted by jacquilynne on Jun 4, 2013 - 4 comments

Viking Knitting: It's not just for Vikings anymore!

The Vikings, pillagers and plunderers that they were, were the possessors of quite a bit of metal that needed to be used in some way. So they made jewelry. By the 8th century they had created a technique that is called trichinopoly or more commonly "Viking knitting", although it is really a type of weaving. If the Viking style of adornment appeals to you, you can learn this technique and make your own Viking-style jewelry. It's less complicated than it looks, and you don't even have to know how to knit in order to learn. You can learn to make a necklace or bracelet like this with this tutorial, or by watching a YouTube video. Once you master the basic technique, you'll be able to start improvising by adding beads and findings and semi-precious stones. It's possible that such jewelry was used as currency on those occasions when the Vikings actually paid for their acquisitions, like some sort of wearable bank account. Ostentatious types, those Vikings, but I suppose when you're known for your ferocity and lawlessness, you don't have to fear being mugged or looking nouveau riche.
posted by orange swan on Apr 3, 2013 - 19 comments

You've got an old computer, your're crafty, and you spent way too much time watching "Transformers" as a kid.

Suppose you’ve got an old computer around, just taking up space, and your initial attempts at finding alternate uses for it have not been successful. But you know perfectly well that, according to this super scientific pie graph, there must be better recycling ideas out there on the net. Let’s have a look at some of them, shall we? [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Oct 22, 2012 - 19 comments

The Technique Zone

Why not avoid the commercial Hallmark Holiday trappings by making your Valentine a personalized art-piece this year? Over at The Technique Zone, Sam gives simple sequenced photo tutorials on how to make an acrylic paint transfer on card or canvas, beeswax frontispieces, a slide mount box, sooty stamped cards.
posted by honey-barbara on Feb 10, 2012 - 5 comments

where crafting and dogs sadly intersect

What could possibly be sadder than sad Etsy boyfriends? Sad Etsy Dogs. [more inside]
posted by flex on Aug 8, 2011 - 53 comments

"There is no separation between her art and her life."

Think you love to crochet? I can guarantee you’re not a patch on Polish-born New York artist Agata Oleksiak, now known as Olek. Olek has covered everything in her apartment with its own custom-made crocheted sweater, and a installation of those items is on display at the Christopher Henry Gallery in Nolita until May 28. She’s also done people, bicycles, cars, windows in abandoned buildings, the bull on Wall Street, and pretty much anything else that would stay still long enough. She keeps track of her crocheting time by counting the number of movies she watches while making an item. I notice she uses variegated acrylic, which is the cheapest yarn on the market. I always wondered who was still buying that "ugly afghan" yarn.
posted by orange swan on May 26, 2011 - 27 comments

Beware the creeper!

Meatcraft - Real World Minecraft
posted by Artw on Apr 21, 2011 - 13 comments

Siege mentality

Sarajevo Survival Tools is a virtual exhibition of the objects created and used by the citizens of Sarajevo during the three and half years the city was under siege. Highlights include a home-made gun, watering can and water cart. Intro in the Guardian - Welcome to Sarajevo's designs for survival
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Mar 3, 2011 - 17 comments

Build it, and they will float

Hannu builds boats. Not a really unusual thing (though getting rarer as time goes on). However, he concentrates on small, simple, easy to build boats with as little material as possible. Some, like a 18' canoe built from one piece of plywood, are simply amazing.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out on Nov 14, 2010 - 19 comments

Leslie Hall

Gravel In My Shoe, Tight Pants / Body Rolls, Blame The Booty, and Craft Talk are the four most recent YouTube videos from Leslie Hall (previously, via)
posted by finite on May 29, 2010 - 23 comments

Learn a New Old Skill

Do you like vintage needlework? The Antique Pattern Library is a collection of scanned craft books that are in the public domain. They contain patterns for crochet, knitting, tatting, netting, embroidery, needle lace, beading, and other crafts. See also Home Work, a Choice Collection of Useful Designs for the Crochet and Knitting Needle, and Beeton's Book of Needlework. If vintage instructions aren't your thing, try lace edgings from 1846 updated for the modern knitter.
posted by bewilderbeast on May 17, 2010 - 12 comments

Sock it to me

Antique sock knitting machines are seeing a resurgence in popularity, and so is knitting socks by hand. You can knit them on needles that are double-pointed or circular, one sock at a time or both at once. [more inside]
posted by bewilderbeast on Mar 4, 2010 - 32 comments

The Ugly Side of Crafting

Crafting can be great. But beware: crafting can also go spectacularly wrong. Fortunately for the benefit of those of us who might become so proud of having made something, anything, all by ourselves, that we are oblivious that the result is an aesthetic travesty, there are websites making a valiant attempt to document the legion of ways in which crafting can get totally out of hand. Before you pick up those needles or scissors or fire up the kiln or soldering iron, check out: Glitter Gone Bad; Handmade Gone Wrong; What Not To Craft, Homemade Hilarity; and Kraftomatic. The sturdy souls at CraftFail (previously) deserve special credit for documenting their own crafting mishaps, and Regretsy (also previously) and Etsy WTF will help you choose wisely from among Etsy’s hand-crafted wares. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Nov 22, 2009 - 65 comments

Softies for Mirabel

In its' third year, Softies for Mirabel is an appeal for handmade stuffed toys to benefit children supported by The Mirabel Foundation. [more inside]
posted by hecho de la basura on Nov 5, 2009 - 2 comments

This is not your grandmother's crafting web site

If you’re into crafting, you’ve probably stumbled upon Craftster, a crafting community web log within which members can post pictures and documentation of their own crafts and processes, share information and tutorials, and get feedback. The crafts tend to be off-beat and original and many involve upcycling – this is not a site where one would proudly post pictures of a completed paint-by-numbers or rug hooking kit project. The Craftster esprit de corps is nicely expressed by its slogans, which include, “No tea cosies without irony”, “Knit fast. Die Warm”, “Measure twice, cut once. Meh. Just start cutting”, and “Cheaper than therapy”. Craftster was launched in 2003, has 700,000 visitors a month, and, besides posting and discussion boards for every possible subset of crafting, its features include a calendar of forthcoming crafting events, member-created city guides to craft resources in your area, and staff-written articles. But I especially wanted to draw your attention to the Craftster Craft Challenges, the first one of which was announced on April 28, 2005. If you’re competitive and crafty, you have just enough time to whip up something for the 41st crafting challenge, which is to create an “edible craft” (the entry posting window is August 1st to August 5th). For inspiration, check out the 40 previous Craft Challenges. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Jul 29, 2009 - 21 comments

The Needlers and the Hookers and the damage done

Crafters may look like a close-knit group, but the reality is that there are armed camps within crafting. Knitters and crocheters brandish their respective tools and claim their craft is easier to learn or more versatile, while those who are bistitchual remain determinedly on the fence. For the uninitiated/uncrafty, here’s an explanation of the difference between the two. “Wooly Bullies” [sic], a documentary, explores the animus between the Needles and the Hooks. When Sandi Wiseheart of Knitting Daily dares to mention the “c” word, she gets many comments from knitting readers who, while stressing that they have nothing against crochet, just don’t want to see it in their backyard magazine. When Kim Werker, editor of Interweave Crochet, tries to talk to the Knitting Daily crowd about crocheting she gets even more negative feedback. Part of the problem seems to be that while knitters contend with the “old lady’s pastime” stereotype, crocheters are up against the much more negative “granny square and toilet paper cosy” stigma. [shakes head in sorrow] Crafters, can’t we all just get along? and make stuff?
posted by orange swan on Jul 13, 2009 - 111 comments

Creative Commons...I think you're doing it wrong

Instructables.com moves to a "pay to see" model Instructables, the community craft blog of the handy set, has moved to a closed pay-only model, and the timer is ticking for legacy accounts. After 90 days from implementation rollover, people who do not pay for an Instructables "Pro" account will have their accounts "crippled". Non-paying accounts will no longer be able to view entire instructables at once, print out projects or get a PDF, have a "favorites" list, and most perniciously, people won't be able to view "secondary" images in instructable steps that have multiple images. (Even if you happen to be the person that created it.) [more inside]
posted by dejah420 on Jun 17, 2009 - 61 comments

You've got (junk) mail (and craft materials)!

Your household probably gets something like 800 pieces of junk mail per year. Other than sighing and tossing the junk into your recycling bin, what are your options? Of course, I’d urge you to support any one of the numerous current anti-junk mail campaigns (do be aware of any possible conflicts of interest), but until those measures take effect, there is always crafting. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on May 24, 2009 - 29 comments

Arts & Crafts Videos from Etsy

Etsy has a YouTube channel where they have all kinds of profiles of their users and how-to guides. My two favorite series are the Process series (e.g. New Books with Old Materials & Tin Toys) and Handmade Portraits (e.g. Armor Guitars & Wood Mosaics). In the description of each video there is a link to the corresponding entry on Etsy's blog, The Storque. The blogposts have more information on the users and sometimes further links and videos. [via Work in Progress]
posted by Kattullus on Apr 20, 2009 - 5 comments

Barefoot and crafting in the kitchen

If you’ve got extra kitchenware about is never used to cook or contains food anymore, here are some (low calorie!) ways to use it again. If you’ve kicked your caffeine habit, your metal coffeepots can become lamps, or your teapot can morph into a camel. Other items of kitchenware can become recycled toys. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Apr 5, 2009 - 7 comments

Crafting can be the perfect way to cap off your St. Patrick's Day celebration!

For St. Patrick's Day, rather than show you how to knit your own leprechaun or make a hat out of a ice cream container (because who the hell wants to do that), I'm going to help you with your after party cleanup. You'll have lots of bottle caps and wine corks lying about afterwards, so here are some ideas on what to do with them. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Mar 17, 2009 - 15 comments

Have a forking good time crafting!

If you have too much mismatched cutlery to fit in your kitchen drawers, take a stab at crafting with it! Make a wind chime, fork key ring, fork cup rings or coat hooks, make cutlery clocks, or light fixtures such as these by designer Ali Siahvoshi. Or you can make jewelry: fork bracelets, a fork necklace pendant, or collaged spoon necklace pendants like those made by SpoonFedArt. Forks and spoons make groovy rings. Here’s how to make spoon rings. For more inspiration, check out this cutlery chair sculpture by Osian Batyka-Williams, this cutlery table by Toni Grilo, some sculpture by Matthew Bartik, Vince Pompei’s whimsical silverware flowers, clocks and sculptures, or the items at Forkometry. Just don’t get so carried away with your new craft that you find yourself having to eat with your fingers.
posted by orange swan on Mar 8, 2009 - 9 comments

It's curtains for your old linens!

Does your linen closet runneth over? Yes, you say, you have a stack of towels you regularly use in the bathroom and for swan origami, but you have others that are getting worn. You have tablecloths and aprons you never use, your dish towels seem to breed in their drawer, and you have pillowcases which have outlasted their matching sheets, king-sized bed sheets for the bed your ex took when you split, and your linen closet contains a selection of linens that are faded or torn or leftover from former decorating colour schemes. What are you to do with them? [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Mar 4, 2009 - 23 comments

Last one to craft is a rotten egg!

You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, and you can’t buy eggs without winding up with egg cartons. What will you do with the empty cartons? Well, you could make a string of flower lights, lamps, or a pendant light. If you refrained from drinking too much egg nog over the holidays, you might be lightweight enough to make use of a egg carton seat. This company makes footstools out of egg cartons. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Feb 23, 2009 - 15 comments

My crafty Valentine, sweet recycled Valentine...

You forgot all about Valentine’s Day and now must come up with an extra special momento to pacify your beloved. Or you are sitting home alone with no way to celebrate V-day. In either case, it’s crafting time! You can recycle things you probably already have to make Valentine’s Day trinkets. You can start by making a card with scrap yarn, or from wrapping paper. You can make gift bows or a heart-shaped candy basket from recycled magazines, and a gift bag from a newspaper. You can make a love letter box from an old box. The kids or the artist in your life might like to get heart-shaped crayons, made from stubby old crayons. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Feb 14, 2009 - 5 comments

Sock it to me, eco-crafters!

What can be done with worn, outgrown or single socks? Well, if you want to wear those favourite socks awhile longer, you can darn them. If your baby’s feet are no longer so tiny, make a baby sock purse or sachet, baby sock reindeer, or baby sock corsage or bouquet decorations for a friend’s baby shower. You can make a hat out of your child’s outgrown socks, or your kids can make Barbie clothes. You can use single socks to make a foot massager, potholders, slippers, a dog rug, a snowman, sock puppets or cute critters. Or sock art installations. See these articles for more pedestrian ways to use socks.
posted by orange swan on Jan 15, 2009 - 18 comments

Your suitcase doesn't suit you? Tired of lugging that luggage?

If you’ve got a shabby old suitcase and want to give it a makeover, you could always découpage it. Or disguise it as a watermelon. If it doesn't have wheels, you can add some. If you aren’t traveling much these days, you could put a synthesizer in your suitcase. Or turn it into a pet bed, or a planter. Suitcases can be used as an end table, or turned into chairs and ottomans. The pockets from old suitcases make useful additions to bulletin boards. And if you have unused purses, here are some ideas on how to repurpose them. For info on getting rid of/transforming other types of baggage, see AskMe.
posted by orange swan on Jan 8, 2009 - 16 comments

Don't hit the books; craft with them

So, you have some old books lying around you don’t read and that you're pretty sure no one else will ever read because they have pages missing or they’re hopelessly outdated technical manuals or they never should have been published in the first place. What to do? As always, crafting is an option. You can make a wrist cuff, or a purse. Book covers can be made into clocks, or photo frames, or photo and card stands. They can become CD and DVD cases, or a hiding place for valuables or necessary contraband, Shawshank Redemption-style. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Jan 4, 2009 - 20 comments

Should auld calendars be tossed out, and never brought to mind?

As 2009 approaches, you’re taking down your old calendars and wondering what to do with them. You still enjoy those Monet/Jeff Foxworthy/rose garden/Playmate images so much you hate to throw them in the recycling bin. Don’t worry, there are ways to reinvent that calendar so you can enjoy those images for years to come. For starters, you could make envelopes and notecards out the calendar. Though perhaps you won’t want to use your new Playmate stationery to write to Grandma. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Dec 28, 2008 - 7 comments

High Craftibility: crafting with old vinyl records, cassette and VHS tapes

Audio visual technology changes so fast that if you’re of a certain age you’ve been left holding the bag of cassettes, VHS tapes and vinyl records. What will you do with these AV artifacts if you no longer want to play them? Have no fear; you can have lots of crafty fun with your real audio. You can make a cassette tape mini journal, a cassette wallet or cassette coin purse, or a mini cassette lamp. If you’re into melting stuff, you can make a sculpture, such as this skeleton, from the plastic. The tape can be crocheted or knitted into items like totes, evening bags, Barbie halter dresses, or baby booties. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Dec 21, 2008 - 11 comments

Because the landfills out there are frightful, but crafting is so delightful

Christmas is coming, but while the goose may be getting fat, your wallet is not. And you’re dreaming of a green Christmas. How, you ask, can one decorate a home economically and with consideration for the environment? This depends on what you’ve got sitting around the house already. Do you have lots of old Christmas cards that always seemed too pretty to throw away? Use them to make a star or two, tree ornaments, angels, gift boxes, a basket, a wreath or a small tree. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Dec 10, 2008 - 15 comments

Nicotine-free crafts: crafting with cigarette and cigar packaging

If you've quit smoking and you're trying to get through the early withdrawal symptoms without gaining 20 pounds, one coping strategy is to get busy crafting. Sure, you say, you've made naughty figurines out of your cigarette packages in bored moments before, but now if you're going to craft you want to make something that celebrates your fantastic self-discipline and can serve as a worthy memorial to your renounced habit. If that's how you feel, check out these links. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Nov 23, 2008 - 8 comments

Your motorcycle gang days may be over, but thanks to crafting your leather jacket can rock on.

Got some old leather articles lying around that have become dated, worn, or too small? Well, happy days are here again for your old leather goods, because here are some ideas on how to make old leather items into new items you can use. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Nov 16, 2008 - 4 comments

Yes we can can craft.

As much as you may enjoy using your discarded tin cans to have top secret conversations make yourself taller, you'd like to know if there's anything creative to do with tin cans. Here are some ideas to get you started. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Nov 9, 2008 - 31 comments

Got a crafting urge all bottled up?

Even though you recycle the plastic you discard, you sometimes feel guilty about how much you throw out and worry about where it's going. Would you like to be a little more hands on and proactive and recycle some of your plastics yourself? If so, I've got some ideas for you. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Nov 1, 2008 - 28 comments

These shoes are ripe for crafting

While you may not be the shoe hoarder some people are, you have shoes in your closet you never wear and you'd like to know what to do with them. Are they just boring? In that case you could just experiment with new ways to lace them, or find a way to make them light up when you walk into a room. Or you could draw on the shoes with markers or sharpies. You could also paint them, going with the theme of your choice: Art Nouveau, Picasso, Day of the Dead, or any of the ideas here. You could cut motifs from fabric and glue them on to your lace-ups, cover your flats with new fabric, bling up a pair of strappy shoes with glitter, or embellish your flip-flops with some yarn. Is the old upper worn out? Knit or crochet a new one. Want to get where you're going faster? Make custom roller skates, or modify your bicycle. Do your shoes hurt your feet? Put them on your face instead as a wrestling mask, or turn them into an iPod case. Your shoes could also become a birdhouse, a planter, a centrepiece, or an integral part of a coat rack, bookends or leg lamp. If you're really not up to crafting, here are 11 non-crafty ways to recycle old shoes. But what fun is that?!?
posted by orange swan on Oct 29, 2008 - 22 comments

Because bra burning is so passé

Got a stack of bras you don't know what to do with? Charities will accept secondhand bras in good condition, but if you're in the mood to be creative there are bra crafting ideas on the net. You could make a bra wristlet, and then make a sleep mask out of the rest of the bra fabric, earrings out of the hardware, and a toy out of inserts. You could make a lavender sachet out of a bra and use it to perfume your lingerie drawer. One seemingly popular idea is to make a cute and feminine evening bag or, as one woman who wears a 36F quipped in a comment, luggage. If you're an especially sassy member of the Red Hat Society, you could make a purse that matches your hat. Some people even make hats out of the bras, though perhaps not every woman would care to so obviously wear a bra on her head. If you're a breast cancer survivor and want to avoid buying expensive and uncomfortably heavy prosthetics, you could knit yourself a pair of tits and go right on wearing your favourite bras. You could also make an art installation: a 5' bra ball. Here's a list of 28 things to do with old bras. And yes, I realize this post will make many of the men of MeFi want to get a lot of puns/juvenile comments off their chests, but titter away. You're probably just jealous you can't make such cool crafts out of your jock straps.
posted by orange swan on Oct 28, 2008 - 49 comments

What a great homemade witch costume! Um, you were supposed to be a princess? Oh.

Halloween is lurking ever nearer, and you need costumes and home decorations. Even if you're not as crafty as a witch, Halloween is a good time to start because the results are supposed to look deformed and grotesque. And you're dreaming of a green Halloween. Fortunately I just happen to have a few links to get you started. This garlic wreath could help you keep the vampires away, and this eyeball wreath may work on everyone else. For a geek-style Halloween, make a Mac-o-lantern. You could also decorate the house with a vinyl record cat clock, tin can candle lanterns, a ghost mobile, CD cat coasters, or a skeleton doll made out of old socks. For outdoor decorations, lawn tombstones can be made out pizza boxes and old newspapers, a skeleton out of old plastic containers, and there could be a ghost or two hanging about. You could adorn yourself with a skeleton brooch made out of tin cans, and if you've got old clothes or linens lying about the children in your life might like a few cute monsters to cuddle. If your kids (or you) have finally outgrown dolls, give the dolls a zombie makeover. For costume ideas, check out the Daily Green's list of the best recycled costumes on the Web, then send the kids trick or treating with pumpkin or black cat canisters. Just please be careful with those shears and x-acto knives or the blood and gore on your costume may be a little too organic.
posted by orange swan on Oct 24, 2008 - 28 comments

Crafting for Change!

As the U.S. election approaches, you're getting fidgety. You've donated, you've volunteered for your candidate's campaign, but you've still got time on your hands for election-themed activities. What to do? Well, you could make some snazzy Obama or McCain earrings to wear to the polls on decision day. You could make presidential candidate finger puppets out of yarn, paper, or felt and re-enact the debates. You could knit a party animal so as to have something to snuggle up to at night when you wake from nightmares of stolen elections. You could decorate some oranges. Slate has a slideshow of political craft ideas, my favourite of which is probably the Homeland Security Quilt. For more ideas, check out the Obama Craft Project, where crafters are crafting for change and fundraising. There you'll find everything from Obamaware to a cool Yes We Can scarf, to a cross-stitch portrait, to a cozy Obama cap. Lest you think I'm being too partisan here, I'll say I did search for Republican-oriented crafts and there just didn't seem to be many. It seems Obama's got the crafting demographic, um, all sewn up.
posted by orange swan on Oct 22, 2008 - 18 comments

Sweater Reincarnation: giving old, ruined sweaters new life forms

You've been getting your sweaters out for the cold season, and finding that moths have been picknicking on them all summer. Or your significant other did the laundry and threw your favourite handwash-only sweaters into a hot water wash and/or the dryer. Or your children have outgrown the sweaters Grandma made them. However your sweaters became unwearable, it's time to make like a surgeon and do some cosmetic reconstruction. (If the old sweaters are at least 50% wool, you may be able to felt the material first.) You can make extra long gloves from sweater sleeves, mittens, a scarf, or slippers, legwarmers, a tote bag, a few handbags, or a coin purse. If the kids don't want to let go of their favourite sweaters, they can be pacified with building blocks, a bunny, snail, or seahorse, or diaper-coverup pants. If the cat feels left out, make it a pet bed. Or you can make things the whole family can enjoy: throw pillows, a quilt, or felted bowls. Since Christmas is approaching, Christmas stockings or a wreath might come in handy. If you want to get into needle felting and start sculpting with the felted fabric, you could make virtually anything, including, oh, say, a robin in a nest, Anne of Green Gables, a zebra, or art for the wall. And best of all, by the time you're done you no longer want to throttle your laundry-challenged significant other! As much.
posted by orange swan on Oct 19, 2008 - 11 comments

One person's old news can be another's person art form.

Perhaps in your non-Metafilter time or during the occasional power outtage you indulge in that charmingly antiquated past-time of reading a newspaper made out of actual paper. But, once you've read it, you're left with blackened hands and the necessity for putting that fragment of a dead tree somewhere or other. Aside from putting it in the recycling bin, which is responsible but kind of obvious (and therefore would not necessitate a MeFi FPP) what can you do? One option is to make handmade paper. If you're an outdoors type, you could make organic flower pots, some kites, or a dory. If you're more of a fashionista or home decorator, you could make a purse or a bead necklace, weave a basket or placemats, or make a bird. If you're a spinster, you could make some newspaper yarn as student Greetje van Tiem did for her Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show. The yarn can be woven into carpets, curtains and upholstery. Here's a tutorial on how to make the yarn. Then there's always papier maché. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Oct 13, 2008 - 27 comments

Because throwing neckties into the garbage is just so old school

Maybe you've left the corporate world and its dress code behind, you've decided you're not the Avril Lavigne type after all, or you're soon to be unemployed. Whatever the reason, you've got a lot of neckties you no longer wear. What can you do with them? Well, if you still want to wear them in some form, you can make daisy pins, a wrist cuff, a belt or two, a shoulder bag, a wallet or cellphone pouch, a skirt (long or short), a dress, or thong underwear. If you want to have the best dressed dog in your suburb, you can make a dog collar or leash. If you have kids, you can make a snake or cravat cats for them, or teach them how to use old silk ties to dye eggs. If you'd rather decorate the house, you can make baskets, a photo frame, a lampshade, a new chair seat, a floor mat, some throw pillows or some cool quilts. If you want to start getting ready for Christmas, you could make a Christmas stocking, a tree skirt, or an angel. In fact, there are so many ways to make things out of old neckties there's a blog devoted to the topic. Whatever your choice, your days as a corporate peon will be memorialized. As will the peanut butter and jam sandwiches you used to have for lunch.
posted by orange swan on Oct 5, 2008 - 23 comments

501 things to do with your 501s

Your favourite jeans are giving out on you, but you don't want to let them go. These are the jeans you were wearing when you met your partner/got your all-time best score on Frogger/performed at your garage band's only ever paying gig/whenever you move out of, then back into, your mother's basement. They're not just jeans — they're your history. But since you can't wear them anymore, you think you could reincarnate them. You have many options, especially if you've got more than one pair due for retirement. You could make journal or photo album covers so your jeans can truly be part of your historical record. You could make a quilt or two or three, or a wall hanging, or some woven rugs. Or a Christmas tree. You could make a slipcover for a chair, pillows or placemats, or an apron or two. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Oct 2, 2008 - 14 comments

Na Na, Hey Hey, Don't Kiss Those Nylons Goodbye Just Yet

As most women know, nylon stockings don't last. They run, they snag, they rip, and they can't be mended. And they take 40 to 50 years to decompose in a landfill. I was sure as I began researching this post that there must be some great pantyhose crafting and art ideas out there. But the results were, um, mixed. If you are into weaving, you can make some wall hangings or rugs from nylons. If you're a Klondike Kate type who sews, you can make a skirt. If you work in a corporate environment but want to keep your edge, you can abide by your company's dress code AND sport temporary tattoos. If you're a crafty bride-to-be, you can make flowers or dragonflies for wedding decorations. If you're into the less practical kind of art, you can create semi-wearable pantyhose art, or construct pantyhose art installations like artist Mary Nicollet. You can even make pantyhose dolls, and stick them in a jar if you want to. Just be prepared for the fact that most people will never understand why you'd want to. But beware, because pantyhose arts and crafts are either underexplored or instrinsically strange, and can go from “interesting” or “kind of cute” to “bizarre” and “kind of disturbing” faster than a run can make its way from your thigh to your toes. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Oct 1, 2008 - 38 comments

Art you can really get hung up on

So, as a fashionista or due to your upbringing, you don't want to use wire coat hangers. Yet they keep accumulating in your closet. And perhaps you don't have a thrift shop or dry cleaner in your vicinity that will accept them. You can only use so many weenie roasters and dowsing rods, and your old talent for unlocking car doors is useless on modern locks. What to do? Well, some people improve/camouflage their hangers by covering them with braided strips of plastic bags, fabric, or yarn. But there are other, non-clothes hanging, uses for wire hangers. At the simplest end of the spectrum, you could make a toilet paper holder, or wool sock blockers. You could use the wire as a frame for decorative wreaths (or a wreath for your stitch and bitch party), or little Christmas trees or a Christmas card display rack. You could make a light fixture, or a chandelier. If you have a surplus of plastic hangers, they can become a light fixture too. Or you could make a chair. If you're feeling especially artistic, or just want something to fill in a blank space on the wall, you might follow the lead of artist Lawrence L'Hote, or of artist Philippa King, and make, say, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, or a sculpture based on a Picasso sketch. And if you're really enthusiastic about the possibilities of wire hangers, try your hand at making a gorilla, a spaceman, or a hooker like artist David Mach. Just please be particularly careful not to put an eye out, since that's not an improvement on mashed clothing.
posted by orange swan on Sep 24, 2008 - 34 comments

Moasics: they aren't just for Roman bath houses anymore!

Uh oh, you smashed a dish while you were washing up. But you don't get upset, because you know what to do with the pieces. Being both cultured and crafty, you not only know about the long and illustrious history of mosaic art but also that you can make mosaics from china and ceramic shards as well as pebbles, beads (new or removed from old jewelery), shells, marbles, or even lego or Scrabble tiles. So you take those pieces of your broken plate (and others that klutzy you has broken in the past) and, following some basic instructions, make numbers for your house, a fireplace surround, a birdbath, a flowerpot, a table or two or four, a tray, picture or mirror frames, a wall mural/homage to Hitchcock, or even a floor. By now you're wishing you had a spare basilica or Roman villa so you could really go nuts. And, besides planning on picking up some thrift shop china, you're eyeing that 48-piece reindeer-and-elves Christmas dinnerware set your mother-in-law gave you a few years back and thinking it's really too bad you're so clumsy and likely to break it in the very near future.
posted by orange swan on Sep 16, 2008 - 20 comments

Now your t-shirts really can suit you to a T!

Like so many other people, you have a stack of old t-shirts you never wear. Perhaps you've gotten beyond wearing obscene slogans or Strawberry Shortcake logos. Or you feel it's time to retire that “Team Hillary” shirt. Or your favourite old shirt no longer fits over the impressive pecs/food hump you've acquired since high school. Or you've had it with MeFi and you want a way to repurpose/savage your MeFi blue t-shirt. No need to be at a loss! You might just settle for making a different style of t-shirt, but you can also use those t-shirts to make diapers for your baby, clothes for your toddler, or adult-sized undies, skirts or dresses. Or a bikini. Just beware of saggage. I mean, of the bikini, after it gets water-logged. You also might make tote bags or pillows, car seat covers, baby wipes, or dusters. If you get really ambitious, you can make a t-shirt quilt, taking inspiration from the many examples on the net. If I haven't given you enough ideas, you can turn to the ever authoritative and exhaustive AskMe, or you can do some further reading on the topic. Just don't get so carried away that you wind up having to go to work topless tomorrow. Unless, of course, your career path requires that anyway.
posted by orange swan on Sep 1, 2008 - 25 comments

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