Friday, August 31, 2018

Dikya D.I.Y.

I've loved the sea, and nearly everything in it, my entire life, but there are a few tentacle-having friends that hold a special place in my heart; one being the Jellyfish.  Apparently, if Jellyfish show up in your life they are there to teach avoidance of danger, mistakes, and pain ... Possibly by stinging the hell out of you until you finally get it?

So, around eight years ago after seeing something in the background of a photograph of a woman's studio space I decided I needed to create a bloom of jellyfish for my nephew's sea-themed bedroom.  Years passed, and after seeing several people's creations (especially Sayuri Sasaki Hemann) but few attempts at any DIY tutorials, I'm coming at you with my straightforward method for low-cost, high-impact fiber art jellyfish.

For any needle-craftsperson, fiber artist, textiles artisans, or hobbiest crafter the necessary supplies should be pretty easy to come by.  Without further ado...

Here's what you need:
  • Organza fabric of your choice
(the amount is really up to you, but half a yard will give you a robust swarm of jellyfish) 
  • Novelty yarn (think scraps!)
  • Pinking shears, or candle, or both
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing needles
  • Beads of your choice 
Here's what you do:
  • Begin with cutting your fabric into uneven strips of varying widths.  I cut across the fabric from selvedge edge to selvedge edge, which is particularly helpful on delicate fabrics that tend to fray because the edges have already been "sealed" during production. For mine, the long, dark strips vary from 1/4" - 1/2", while the lighter strips start at the top measuring 1 1/2" - 3" and work down into a pointed tip.  The Circles that will become the "bell" of the jellyfish measure anywhere between 4" - 8" across.  Cut 2 of each for each jellyfish you intend to create (for larger jellyfish with bells measuring 6" - 8" you can increase the number of fabric tentacles for a full, and proportionate look).  
  • Zigzag (pinking shears) or burn the edges of your strips.  Both keep the fabric from fraying, while burning adds the extra crinkle that will make your jellyfish look more jellyfish-y.

  • Work out your colorway.  It's very easy to change the look and outcome of your jellyfish collection just by changing a few colors of your chosen yarn.  You can use the same fabric combinations for all of your creations, and they can end up vastly different from one another, just by switching up a few yarn selections, so, no you do not have to buy up an entire fabric store worth of organza to get different results!
  • Start cutting!
Checklist - 14 strands
24 inches: 2
42 inches: 2
46 inches: 2
48 inches:1
54 inches: 2
56 inches: 3
64 inches: 2

 (List of exact yarns above, in order left to right: Bernat Boa & Lion Brand Fun Fur, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Moonlight Mohair, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Lion Brand Vanna's Glamour, Lion Brand Incredible, Lily Sugar n Cream: 2, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Martha Stewart Glitter Eyelash, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Martha Stewart Glitter Eyelash ... granted, a lot of these are discontinued, and while you can find some skeins still floating around online marketplaces, this is just to give you a close look at what went into this project, and inspire your own creativity in selecting your materials)

  • Once you've got everything sorted.  Bundle 13 strands, and pinch in the center, using your one strand tie the bundle together with a sturdy knot.
  • Combine your large organza strips by slightly overlapping the tops (the wide ends), and securing with a stitch.

  • Do the same for your thinner strips.  Lay them in an X shape over your large tentacles, and securely stitch in place near the center
  • And once more, now with the center of your bundle of yarn matched up to the center of your fabric tentacles.  Stitch firmly in place, and finish with a sturdy knot. 

Bead placement
  • Now it's time to create the bell shape, in order to add it to the body of your jellyfish.  To do this, take one of the two circles you cut out and burned, or zigzagged earlier and run a simple straight stitch around the circumference about 1/4" in from the edge of the circle.  Gently cinch until a bulbous, or bell shape starts to form.  Knot, and work the stitches evenly through the fabric until you're satisfied with the shape. 
  • Assemble your cnidaria by knotting a length of thread at the end and running it up through the layers you just created: yarn bundle > thin tentacles > large tentacles, and now the "bell".  This is where I add a medium sized, clear bead to create space, volume, and movement in the tops of my jellyfish, and finally the second circular layer of fabric.  Run your needle, and thread back down through all of your layers, and bead, back up once more, down again, and knot.  
  • *Optional* Embellish the tentacles with beads, or other found objects for added interest, or use as or in part of a sea-themed dream catcher.
  • To suspend your creation, a thin 10 - 15 pound test fishing line will do the job.  Knot the end (especially helpful if you know fancy knotting techniques!), or tie around a medium sized bead so the knot won't pull through your layers of fabric and yarn, run the line up through the layers the way you just did with sewing thread, and create a loop at the top.  That's it!
  • Finding your own style... Now that you see how it all comes together, and how simple it is (even though this post is wordy, there are really only 4 steps, and the whole assembly process aside from burning the fabric takes less than 5 minutes) you can decide how plain or gaudy you want your creatures to be.  Search around for different types of jellyfish.  For a fluffier Portuguese Man of War, or the Black Sea Nettle look, simply run a straight stitch up the length of your pointed organza fabric strips and gather the material down your thread, or add bits of mesh, and tulle to the collection of tentacles.  For the South American Sea Nettle, you could skip the yarn altogether, and use more organza strips for more light catching shimmer and translucence.  For the appearance of movement, use wired ribbons, or soak a selection of your materials in, or spray with fabric stiffener and shape on a protected surface, and let dry prior to assembly.  If you're minimalist, pare down the 14 strands of yarn.  If you want your jellyfish to feel at home in your country cottage, swap out the shiny organza for your favorite quilters' cottons torn into strips of varying widths and throw them through a wash & dry cycle to fray them up, and consider combining with bits of lace.  The point is, this post is just the jumping off point (plus, I know someone out there is going to do something remarkable with a set of fairy lights).
If you've created an entire bloom of jellyfish, and are eager to suspend them together, or are creating a mobile for a child's bedroom, THIS might be the "how-to" you're looking for.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Happy Blogiversary!

I started this project (ten[!] years ago) when I needed something nice ... Something that felt good to visit ... A chill little place in the corner of the internet where strangers weren't fighting each other, a place to come to breathe, and restore.  That's what it's been for me and I hope that's what it's been for you as well. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rosewater D.I.Y.

FTC Affiliate Disclosure
So, I've already shared with you my Rosy Cheeks Toner recipe, but I kind of glossed over the steps to make your own rosewater at home.  Allow me to break down my process:
In this batch: Leaping Salmon & Pink Peace
First things first, I use the simmering technique, because it's faster, easier, and requires fewer supplies and less set-up time.  Also, because I use up my rosewater so quickly, I'm not worried about extending the shelf life the way the distillation method can.  For more information on the distillation process, check out Sheerin's video for Eve's Cafe, here.
To Simmer
Here's what you need:
  • Rose petals,
  • Filtered or previously distilled water,
  • Small pot or saucepan with lid,
  • Mortar and pestle,
  • Mesh strainer,
  • 4-cup glass measuring cup,
  • Glass bottle, or container for storage

Here's what you do:
Gather a small selection of organically grown, pesticide-free rose petals.  Since I'm growing my own, I'm only going to need 2-3 roses with blooms that measure about 4" across.  If you're using miniature varieties, you'll obviously need more flowers than this ... This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" kind of project, but as long as you've got a nice little heap of petals, you're good to go!

In a colander (or large mesh strainer) generously rinse rose petals with clean, room-temperature water to remove any dust, film, debris, or little friends that made their way indoors from the garden.  Give it a good little jostle to make sure both sides are getting rinsed.

Next, bruise your petals.  This can be done any number of ways, I gather them up, and gently mash them with my mortar and pestle.  Gently tearing, collecting in a storage bag and pulverizing with a rolling pin, or even meat tenderizing mallet will work just fine.  You don't want to bash them beyond recognition, just give them a good massage to encourage them to release their natural oils, and fragrance.
Place bruised petals in a small pot or saucepan, and fill with just enough pure water to submerge the petals, and cover with lid.

Over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer, and let your petals luxuriate in their warm bath for 30 minutes, until they have lost their color.  Remove from heat, and let cool.

Once cool, using your mesh strainer and glass measuring cup, pour the contents of your pot into the strainer catching the rosewater in the measuring cup below.  Be sure to use your pestle, large spoon, or other implement to gently press the wilted petals against the mesh of the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible.  You may need to strain a couple of times in case any particles slip through your mesh.  When you're finished, store your rosewater in a glass jar or container until you decide what you're going to do with it.

I go straight into making my Rosy Cheeks Toner by combining the following in a Ball® 4 oz. Miniature Storage Jar (simply freezing any leftover rosewater in a tray until I need it for another recipe):

2 oz rose water
10 drops palmarosa essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil

Witch Hazel's acne-fighting, inflammation, and oil reducing properties coupled with its ability to eliminate bacteria on the skin, and hasten the healing process of skin wounds, and infections partners perfectly with Rosewater's pore tightening, pH balancing, and soothing (to the point of clearing up certain rashes completely) aspects.  Adding to that, Palmarosa's skin restorative, regenerative, and rumored anti-wrinkle properties, along with calming Lavender's balancing, and cellular reproduction enhancing effects this concoction creates the perfect team in this cooling astringent.  I know people who carry it in little misting bottles for a pick-me-up throughout the day.  I store my jar of toner in the refrigerator, and with a little shake to make sure the ingredients are well mixed, and the dip of a cotton ball, my skin gets an extra refreshing Summer treat! 

Also!  For the gentlemen in your life, Witch Hazel & Rosewater make strong contenders for aftershave ingredients.  You may need to butch up the scent a bit by using essential oils other than Palmarosa, and Lavender depending on your guy's taste, but the two to one ratio of the main liquids gives you a great foundation to build from.  If you're interested in making products for men at home, and need a little guidance, a couple of good resources to check out are: The Directory of Essential Oils, and Body Care Just for Men.