Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sweet India Dreams

This bed from Sundance catalog stopped my page-flipping and got the obsessive ideas flowing:


But, oh, the description: "our bed is a faithful reproduction of one that rounded the Horn from England to India nearly a century-and-a-half ago. We discovered the original in a field in New Delhi, dismantled and all but hidden beneath a carpet of grass, and instantly fell for its elegant angles, its cast ornaments and even its weathered patina. The tall, finial-capped posts support a canopy frame that can be left unadorned or draped with panels of linen, velvet, silk or—as it no doubt would have been in mid-1800s India—a fine mist of mosquito netting."

And you just know I have linens, I have velvets, I have silks -- saris in fact -- and even I have mosquito netting to drape. It comes in non-canopy version too. And that's OK, but in the Indian night, you must have flowing silks and mosquito netting.
It would enhance our wallpaper (left over from previous owners' era) rather than fight it as the current Danish modern style bed does.

Sundance even has antique saris that could be quilted into duvet covers. But you know I could do better than this on my own, in India for real:

And check out these bedside tables from Arhaus in the "relics" category, also India-inspired:

And as I am planning our next trip to India right now, I am just in the mood for this visual obsession today ...

One For Me, One For You

Duh, an obvious solution to the question below. Do both! Buy one for me, and still make a knockoff as a gift for someone else. What better way to do a knockoff than to have the original in front of you? It's on sale now! It's affordable! It's possible!!

UPDATE on March 4, 2008:

"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo" she says ...

Mauritius BagReady to carry messenger-style or with a ladylike grasp, the detachable leather strap and handles of this tote let you decide. Either way, sunshine yellow cotton peeking out from white eyelet won't steer you wrong on island-hopping adventures.
Detachable crossbody strap
Zip closure
Cotton, leather; cotton lining
9''H, 18.5''W, 7.5''D
11'' handle drop
Imported style #843170

We're sorry. This product is no longer available.

I'm a loser. In the shape of an L on her forehead ...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To Buy Or Sew?

An UPDATE on The Birth of A Knockoff post:

Those of us who sew can get really rankled when people assume you sew to save money. Like you are cheap. Not just somebody who wants a good value, but cheap. Well here's the news for you ... you don't always save money. In fact, sometimes sewing can cost more. Sometimes you sew for the challenge of it, the pleasure of it, the satisfaction of seeing the final outcome that was once just a mirage of a vision.

Creating knockoffs to look as much as possible like the original is a fantastic sewing challenge. I chose the Anthropologie Mauritius bag as a good late winter knockoff project, to finish by the time spring hits and I'm wearing a white tee with jeans, with the white and yellow bag for color:

It would be a good knockoff because no-how no-way would I pay $298 for a bag with such limited usage potential. But its current deep-discount price of $109.95? Should I benefit from today's retailer woes? Or proceed with the knockoff as planned? I have acquired:
-- the fabric
-- the Mary Jo Hiney Designs pattern
-- some of the metal pieces

I already have brown leather. I still need a yellow fabric to go under the outer fabric and fill in the eyelets with yellow. And, a lining fabric.

It would cost under $109.95 in materials, for sure. But what about the time factor?

What would you do?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fine Wine Rack

Last weekend's project was to transform the most cheapie IKEA wine rack (14 years old) into something that didn't bother my eyes when I see it at the bottom of the basement staircase. It was raw naked wood, with splinters and rough edges, and shiny screwheads everywhere. Why buy a new one when we'd rather spend money on what sits on it. Here it is now, no longer naked, in a new coat of paint:

Now it's not so bad. It's fine. Not great, not fantastic, but serviceable fine. It even sports some paint techniques to give it a rustic feel:

Cheap Dirt

Months ago I was looking for vintage test tube racks. For my souvenier dirt. Find out what souvenier dirt is.

Shortly after that post, after years and years of looking for just the right thing, I saw it at a Cost Plus World Market store. It's a spice rack, about $10:

It was almost just right thing. I spray-painted it with antique gold paint, attached scrapbook paper labels, and filled the tubes with dirt of different colors and textures:

It's a wonderful travel memento that sits among photo frames, books and various knick-knacks in our family room. I have more dirt from where this came from and will be transforming the second one soon.

Wall Jewelry

Just when you think you have an obsession beat, you go to the mailbox. I didn't find a ticket to the funny farm in there, but a stroll down Grandin Road, thus renewing a recurring obsession. A big wall in our living room needs art. There is art that I love on it right now -- long rectangular silk Lao textiles hanging from old wooden looms. We found these in Chiang Mai, Thailand years ago and so there is a story to them. As with many things in our home, looking at them reminds us of travels and people we met and places we've been. But our little b&w cat, Chaai, doesn't like the navy textile. He rips it down. I hang it up. He rips it down. It sits for awhile on the coffeetable, folded into submission. Until I figure Chaai guy has forgotten that he hates this textile. So I hang it up. He rips it down. Before the day is out. I won't win this war. It's a good textile too -- the back is almost as fine as the front, much better quality than most textiles in the Chiang Mai Night Market. And it cost accordingly. Each time Chaai pulls it, his nails and the wooden loom snag it. (and no, I will not declaw him for that)

So I may soon put the Lao textiles in a protection program, and now searching for something more indestructible. Our living room has dark chocolate brown leather, deep orange, golds and greens. Smidgens of deep red. Not like a 70s style, more like Indian-Thai-Japan-Burma-Laos-China style.

These collections from Grandin Road would work well:

I've obsessed previously over many similar pieces by Patricia:

Check out the links. Check out the prices. A year ago one of these may have been on the wall as fast as the Brown Truck could get there. But in these days and times, we must challenge ourselves.

Etsy options from thepaintedlily:

$14 -- find thrifty frames and you have the look for less. You can even put a collection together from thepaintedlily:

And what about scrapbooking papers? They're the perfect size to put a framed collection together, or decoupage them on canvas. For a buck or less each, you can't go wrong. Find square frames to get the complete look and you can always paint the frames if the color or finish isn't quite right. If you can't find square frames, scrapbook paper is infinitely croppable.

I'm eyeing these Italian Scrapbour papers, found in a New Zealand scrapbook store because they're hard to find in the U.S.:

I may likely go the scrapbook paper route, with some type of finish on them to make them look painted and slightly crackled and distressed. Like they were from a great aunt's travels -- you know, the eccentric one who never married, and no one was quite sure where she got all her money to travel so freely but she sure was charming with the men -- and then one day I found the art in a dusty box in her attic and she let me have them. And no, I don't have a great aunt like that. That's probably residual creativity spilling over from last night's bottle of sauvignon blanc.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Talk About New Ideas Coming Into This World

After a lifetime of saying I didn't like cats, I reconsidered due to need to have something furry in a life that doesn't well accommodate a dog. A chance conversation at the eye doctor led me to a kitten, who started right out teaching me that much of what I thought about cats was wrong:

She was cute then, gorgeous now:

Two years later, a chance conversation led me to this darling little boy:

He is whiskey to her wine. He is frisky she is fine.

She so rarely lets him be so close for so long. He was relishing every moment of this.

Talk about visual obsessions, I love to watch them and see what they'll do each day. The fastest 15 minutes is to just study the two of them looking out a window together. Monkey see, monkey do.

Monday, February 9, 2009


These are images from one of my very favorite places in the world. Let's see ... Hundi lanterns, a sari, saturated colors. Is it India? No, it's not as far away as you think. I believe we should bring the things we love the closest to us. Why not. Why feel like you need to travel, go far away on a vacation to have a feeling of being far away. So these are glimpses of the guest room in my house:

The sari is from Nalli in Chennai, India. A Benares sari that I searched high and low and far and wide for. Among many wood cabinets and tall stacks full of saris. Then I saw it walk past me, in someone else's arms. Desperate times, desperate measures. I ask the nearest Nalli staff if there's another like "that one." Yes! Score! I love it so much, why keep it in a drawer. So it drapes gracefully down a wall, where I can see it every day.

The walls were sponged with four colors of Benjamin Moore paints in several hues of paprika, beige and gray, building color upon color.

The photos above are a bit blurry, taken without flash to better capture the deep color. Here's a better shot of the sari pattern:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Plain Ol' Scrapbook Paper File Made Gift Worthy

Been busy scrapbookin'. And buyin' scrapbookin' stuff for others for Christmas, for me too of course, and buying and making things to hold scrapbookin' stuff. If the behavior of me, my mom and my sister are any indication, scrapbooking should be a recession-resistant sector of this economy. So to hold all the gorgeous papers I got for mom for Christmas, I decorated a box to be part of the gift. With scrapbooking papers of course!

Here's the BEFORE shot. Box from JoAnn's:
The AFTER glamour shot:

Feels like makeover before & afters, where the "before" is notably glum and poorly posed and lighted. However I believe we can all agree, the box as-is is not worthy of a Christmas present.

Here's the makeover process:

Knowing my mom's craft room is called the "green room" for an obvious reason, I chose contrasting green papers and mod podge'd them onto the box. I ripped papers (with the help of a guide, I'm not that neat) to go over the edges and corners. I wanted that edging paper to highlight the papers in the middle, which are the stars of the show.

The details ...

Copper hinges attached with copper brads. I had to use extra long brads to go through the cardboard. The box lid would not open properly once the hinges were attached, so I had to cut off the lid and reattach it solely with the hinges, so it would open properly.

Copper fasteners are super-glued on the front. They are nonfunctional, because both pieces are super-glued to the lid. To open the box, you just simply lift the lid up.
But my favorite is the inside treatment. As with scrapbooks, the real action goes on inside the covers, right? Take a look:

For me, scrapbooking is all about the gorgeous papers (just as sewing is about the fabric), so I chose extra special paper for the inside lid. The rest of the inside remains plain white. You can't see it when the box is full of paper.

Here's a few close-ups of the inside lid:

My mom's first initial is D, so I chose a letter I believe from Cosmo Cricket Fleuriste.

With the copper metal accents on the outside, it needed a metal tie-in on the inside. So here it is:

The copper pieces were in my sewing stash, acquired long before I started scrapbooking. I liked them and figured I'll use them for something, someday. And, here you go. They helped take a box from blah to sensational.
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