Shiny Snack Bag

April 13, 2011 at 6:26 PM (crafts, foil, origami, recycled) (, , , , )

Oh yeah, I know — not another wreath, please!!! Sometimes too much of a good thing can just make you blurry-eyed.  But I really fell in love with those book page wreaths that I found first at Living with Lindsay .  I found other versions here and here and here

Well, I did post a lousy photo a while back of a wreath I made from the little foil snack bags but I was able to get a much better picture this time (but I saved it for almost last).  I had already made a few of the wreaths from the book pages using Lindsay’s tutorial.  Here they are:


My first Book Page Wreath: antique gold tip with red glittered floral picks



Another one with some splashes of green added


Anyway I had all these little plastic foil snack bags that I wanted to use, so I thought the bright colors would make a great wreath.   Again, using Lindsay’s tutorial as a guide, I cut the bags open then cut them into three (almost equal) pieces across the length and proceeded to heat up the glue gun.  One thing I discovered while gluing these in place was that the plastic foil gets extremely hot and you have to hold each piece in place a bit longer than with just paper.  My fingers were one major mass of tenderness for about 2 days.  It’s difficult to see in this photo, but I had enough pieces to put 2 rows around the outside edge and another 2 rows around the inside.  That left me with a big white space in between, so I filled it in with telephone book pages (probably a good thing – tone down that shiny glare from the foil) and then added some foil-lined wrapping paper that I cut to look like a tinsel garland (that’s the blue & white frilly-looking stuff in the middle).  Still needed something, so I glued in two different kusodama flowers I had laying around and splashed some acrylic bluewash onto the phonebook paper.  Not sure I like the way it looks in this photo, but it actually looks pretty decent hanging on the wall.



Plastic foil snack bags with telephone book pages


Okay, so I saved the best for last.  When I showed my friend Nik how to make a kusudama ball with the origami flowers, she played around with them and came up with this cute wreath.  It’s about `12 inches across.  I love it!! How about you?



Origami Wreath from foil-lined paper






Permalink Leave a Comment

Flowers and Foam

April 2, 2011 at 4:00 PM (crafting, crafts) (, , , , , )


Craziness!  Where does the time go?  Last time I posted here was like 6 or 7 weeks ago — guess I’ve been pretty busy.  And the only real thing I have to show for all that time is the paperwork and communications related to the order we’re shipping out tomorrow.  Oh well!

One thing I did manage to get done during that time was to get a couple of  (better) photos for some of the crafts I’ve talked about in previous posts.  Yep.  Really loving these little carved snowman styrofoam sculptures.  We had them around our display of mini Bali trees during Christmas season.

I’ve talked about my friend, Nik, in previous posts, but for new readers – she is my friend and Creative Assistant.  Her family is from the village of Mas here in Bali, known for its skilled woodcarvers.   Nik is no exception – but she carves anything.  She made these in two days.  I finished them up with the paint, glitter and ribbons.  Love that girl!


Snowman vignettes hand-carved from styrofoam

Here’s another example of her styrofoam carving – the lotus flower base of our zen sculpture .  The meditating figure is made from cardboard tube and quilled/ filigreed foil paper.  That base (including the lotus blossoms) is a single piece of styrofoam, the bottom is covered with felt


Lotus Pond Meditation


We’ve done a few other models of both the snowmen and the zen sculpture with different bases.  Someday I’ll try to get some photos of those posted.   In the meantime, let me know what you think about these.   Have you ever tried carving styrofoam?  If so, feel free to post the link.



Permalink 1 Comment

Dust Bunnies Revealed

February 17, 2011 at 5:37 PM (crafting, crafts) (, , , , , )

So — finally! — I’ve pretty much finished my spring cleaning.  While I was unpacking closets and cabinets and drawers – oh my! – I rediscovered some earlier creative endeavors that had long since been put aside.  Have I mentioned that, years ago, I was quite adept at macrame (oh yeah, back in the day!).  Well, about 2 years ago, I remembered how much fun it could be.  So I made a few things and this is one that I really liked:


A Macrame Belt and Bracelet


Years later, I finally acted on my love of crocheted pieces, and taught myself how to crochet.  I spent many a frustrating evening while my kids were growing up, sitting in front of the tv and trying to “make it work”.  Eventually, my efforts paid off – won a couple of blue ribbons on some delicate thread projects at local/county fairs.  Last year, I made a wood-beaded twine belt and a few necklaces, bracelet rings and earrings.



Beaded Ribbon Crochet Necklace, Earrings and Ring











Crochet Cotton Twine Belt with Wood & Gold Beads











Thread Crochet Bracelet with Faux Pearls & Crystal


Beaded Silver Metallic Thread Crochet Bracelet and Ring


I’d love to get some comments on any of these photos, so please feel free to let me know what you like or don’t like.

And these:  (my favorite is the taupe-colored one in the middle – made with upholstery thread!)

Some more expamples of my crocheted jewelry

Sorry this one is so blurry – my regular camera is still on the fritz, so I’m having to make do with my crappy webcam.  I think the larger view may be a bit better.

Anyway, so I was also taken with the idea of crocheting with wire.  I once had a really good tutorial for this in my bookmarks, but that was before my last crash — haven’t yet been able to relocate it.  So, this was my first try:

Beaded Wire Crochet with waxed cotton cording & Matching Earrings

Okay, last three, I promise.  These were all first attempts:


Paper Bead Necklaces with Fabric Flower and/or Wood Bead Accents


Sheer Toyal

Sheer Royal Blue Ribbon Crochet Choker with White and Blue Faux Pearls

Desert Gold Ribbon-wrapped Natural Cording with Amber & Clear Glass Bead Drops

Well, that about “wraps it up” for now.  Don’t forget to leave me a comment.

Next time: paper yarn heart (work-in-progress) and …

Permalink 3 Comments


January 27, 2011 at 6:26 PM (crafts, life, people) (, , , )

I’ve mentioned my friend/assistant, Nik, before.  But I didn’t really tell you about her.  Well, now I will:  she is absolutely amazing!  And being Balinese makes her even more so.

The first thing you need to know is how very difficult it is to find a Balinese craftsperson who actually does more than one single thing;  a woodcarver, for instance, may carve only statues of Ganesha (the Hindu God of Knowledge) — for his entire lifetime.  Why?  Well, if you were to ask him, he would tell you that is the knowledge/skill that was passed down to him by his father, and his father’s father, etc., etc., and that is what he does.  The same goes for most painters, artists, weavers, carpenters, stonemasons, etc.   So trust me when I say that to find someone who will even attempt something new is a rare treasure.  (It’s not their fault, and I’m not trying to give a negative impression about them — it’s simply a fact).  My personal theory on that issue stems from the very tightly-knit communal lifestyle of the Balinese/Indonesian cultures – but that’s another whole story which I post about in my other blog.



This is Nik. I give her materials, and she gives me creations.




So Nik is essentially a true “diamond in the rough”, just learning to spread her wings, use her imagination, and create!  When I met her two years ago, she came to interview for a job in our shop.  She was quite personable, and seemed eager to learn new things.  We knew she certainly had the potential to be special, as evidenced by the fact that she and some friends already own and manage their own shop.  The four ladies had worked together (here in Ubud) for a global brand name outfit, but opted out with the severance package when regional managers wanted to move them to a different store on another part of the island.  So they pooled their severance money and opened a shop selling traditional Balinese dress  (that shop is still up and running).   Needless to say, we hired her.

Initially, we just wanted to find out if she was interested/curious enough to learn all the background information about our products. … you know, the materials used, little stories about different pieces, how to use them, and so on.  She had it down in three weeks — she could tell anyone everything about any given product.  I started to show her how I made some of the ornaments and she wanted to try!  Her attempts resulted in successes.  After that, there was no stopping her.  Every time I’ve introduced her to a new technique, design or idea, she runs with it.  And the best thing is that she and I are on the same wavelength.  Which is not to say that we produce the same output.  Where I approach things with a Western mindset, Nik comes at it from a Balinese viewpoint.  Sometimes we meld and blend the two.  We work well together, and it gives me great pleasure to provide learning opportunities for such a wonderful and giving friend.

A bit of Nik’s personal background is in order here, too (with her permission, of course).  Her father is a rice farmer (but didn’t own his own land), so the family was quite poor.  Btw, poor in this part of the world is not unlike the poor one sees in Africa.  There were many days when she would come home from school and go work in the ricefield with her dad so she could catch some dragonflies in an attempt to stave off the hunger (this is true stuff here).  Her parents could not afford to send her to school (they must pay to attend), so at the tender age of 6 this remarkable young woman got a job to learn woodcarving.  In this way, she put herself through school and graduated high school.  (When we met her, she was working to support the family and to pay for her two younger brothers to attend and finish school).  Nik somehow always understood that she must take every opportunity to learn, and so was a voracious reader – books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, whatever .. if it was in print and she could get her grubby little hands on it, she read it.  She now speaks Japanese, Chinese, German and Dutch conversationally; Indonesian, Balinese and English fluently.

You know, I could probably go on for far too long telling you about my friend.  But the truth is, so many people  don’t understand what life is like for the indigenous peoples of third-world countries,  and Nik’s life story is not unique by any means.  What makes her so special to me is what lengths she has gone to to rise up out of the ashes of utter destitution.  She is self-reliant, incredibly resourceful, intelligent, truly caring and totally sincere.  She lacks the polish of the young sophisticate, but her gentle and loving soul positively outshines most.

Permalink Leave a Comment

New Fancies

January 3, 2011 at 11:41 AM (crafts, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Happy New Year to all!  And thanks to all who have visited this blog.  It’s very encouraging and just downright nice to meet you.

We had a quiet weekend, choosing to ring in the New Year from the comfort of home.  Here in Bali, anyone can buy fireworks…and many do just that.  We were inundated with the bangs, pops, whistles and whooshes of hundreds of mini displays;  only having to look out from our bedroom terrace to witness a spectacular array of syncopated starburst sprays of multi-colored lightshows exploding all along the ridge of the gorge, around us, in front of us and behind us.  At midnight, the spectacle of the Four Seasons Resort display, below us and down inside the gorge, made for a very awesome climax.  Big and little sparkles and glitters of every color lit up our entire little world!  Must have been quite a beautiful view from an airplane flying overhead.  And that was our New Year’s Eve.

Anyway, as I was saying… a quiet weekend at home.  Gave me the opportunity to take a leisurely browse around the web.  Lots of beautiful and creative crafts to see.  But I kept finding myself drawn to the origami and quilling sites.  You  probably know by now that I am enthusiastic about paper crafts, especially the recycled variety.  And I think this year I will focus more on folding and filigree techniques.   I mean, has anyone seen The Crafty Penguin’s 3D Origami Swan ?

It’s beautiful!  And it made me start to imagine all kinds of ways to use her technique to build many different creations… now if I can just decide where to start…

Last year, I became fascinated with the idea of weaving on a cardboard loom, so I gave it a shot.  I thought a sort of shabby chic look created by weaving batik fabric strips might be kinda cool.  This is what happened:

My shabby chic bags woven from batik fabric strips

I used coconut wood buttons for the clasp.  The bags measure about 6″wide x 5″tall,  just big enough for all the essentials for an evening out.  I like the look of the raw edges of the cotton batik fabrics…like an eyelash effect.

Sampai jumpa lagi (see ya next time).

Permalink 2 Comments

It’s All About the Box

December 16, 2010 at 6:15 PM (crafts, recycled) (, , , )


Our Handwoven Gift Boxes Made from Old Newspapers

I want to show you my new gift box.  It’s eco-friendly (made from old newspapers) and it’s handwoven.  We have these sitting under the tree(s) in the shop and they are getting plenty of attention from everyone who comes in to browse around.  They sell so quickly, we just had to hire a couple of school kids to fold a supply of  strips for us so we can just keep making them.

Okay, we’ve all seen the handwoven baskets make from old newspapers — matter of fact, that’s what got me started on this tack.  I ran across Jeffrey Rudell’s basket tutorial last year and made a few of those (much smaller versions – like tabletop catch-alls).  But I have this shop and sell handmade ornaments.  So I thought maybe I could make custom size gift boxes for them.  So, after experimenting a bit, these are what I came up with.  Of course, I also had to check them out with different colors.  They’re cute as is, but look fabulous with some ribbon and a fabric flower or other embellishment.


Testing..testing...Holiday splash on the outside - but still newspaper on the inside

What do you think?  Better with..or without?   I also tried some with a wood stain finish…(pardon the poor quality photo)

A more masculine gift box, finished in wood stain

I’d love to get some feedback on these little boxes.

Permalink 12 Comments

The Forest or the Trees?

December 14, 2010 at 6:00 PM (Christmas, trees) (, )

Yesterday, a young couple came into the shop and wanted to “borrow” one of our Bali trees to decorate for a Christmas Eve party they are hosting.  Kind of a strange request, but then again, we are in Bali – where Everyday is an Adventure. Well, to make a long story short,  we worked out a deal so that they can rent the tree, lights and decorations for the evening — go figure!  They’re regular visitors to the island, have no storage access and want their party to be, well – Christmas-y.  So for those of you who haven’t seen our Bali Tree, here’s a photo:

2010Model 2mtr Bali Tree

Undecorated 2 meter Bali Tree

Anyway, so I thought it would be a good idea to post all the different trees we have in the shop now.  All are handmade by Nik or myself, and the Bali Trees are my design but are handcrafted by a local bamboo master craftsman.  Please enjoy browsing through them, and feel free to comment.

Handcrafted bamboo & alang-alang Mini-Trees

Bali Mini-trees are handcrafted from bamboo & alang-alang

Made from foil-lined paper used in packaging

Pine Cone Tree on scrap piece of solid wood base

Quilt Tree of a different color

Luxe Fabric "Quilt" Tree

Modern & Sleek Silver Fabric Tree

"Quilted" Felt and Crochet-covered Trees













Anyway, so these are some of the trees we’ve done over the past year and a half.

Pine cone Tree: I made this by breaking some pine cones (cleaned, of course) and gluing them onto the gold painted styrofoam cone core, then I sprayed some gold on the pinecones to give a bit of a burnished look to it.  Using a piece of scrap wood for the base, stained it and painted the edges gold then glued the tree onto it.  I put a piece of felt on the bottom to protect whatever piece of furniture it might be set on.

Foil Floret Tree: This one was kind of a dual inspiration — Nik was making these cute little florets by rolling and squishing the foil-lined paper we got hold of somewhere.  I had been making the pinecone tree above, and when I saw the flowers, thought I’d try it out.  So this is what we came up with.  What do you think?   The red faux pearl accents really stand out.  Then I put it on one of our decorated scrap wood bases, glued some felt to the bottom and — voila!

Luxe “Quilt” Trees: These, of course, most people will recognize as a variation on the ever-popular “quilted” ball or egg ornaments, as seen on The Ornament Girl’s blog Her ornaments are beautiful and inspiring.  There’s also a great tutorial for the basic ball over at Crafter Without a Cat’s site .  These and other sites were my inspiration.

Modern & Sleek Silver Fabric Tree: This just basically started as an experiment.  I had this metallic thread silver fabric and a cone in hand, so I started wrapping and gluing the two together.   It needed a bit of pop, so I added the red velvet ribbon stripes and a red faux pearl on top.  Again, the base is a piece of scrap wood, painted silver and trimmed with some silver-infused lace edging and the red velvet ribbon.  Red felt is glued to the bottom.

“Quilted” Felt and Crochet-cover Trees: The crochet tree is from a pattern I had on hand (now lost), made to fit a red felt-covered styrofoam cone.  Attached to scrap wood base which I stained mahogany.  The quilted felt trees are just my variation of the fabric quilted trees.  I wanted to change them up to add a bit of interest — plus, the felt gets pretty thick with all that folding, so less is more in this case.  The one on the right actually looks okay up close and personal, but for some reason seems at an odd angle in this photo.

Okay, so those are the trees in our little forest.  I’m working on one now that’s actually a type of sea plant? animal? something.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get it posted here some day.

Permalink 2 Comments

‘Round Again

December 6, 2010 at 1:05 PM (Christmas, paper) (, )

It is said that imitation is the best form of flattery.  Well, I’d like to flatter two bloggers today:  first is Lindsay, over at Living With Lindsay whose paper book wreath tutorial is awesome .  I came across it a few months back and made one.  I must say that the instructions are easy to follow, and guarantee success.   Thanks, Lindsay!   The second blogger I’d like to flatter is Pizzazzie for reminding me about my wreath because I did want to post it here.  I’ve just finished another one using an old phone book.  I had to tear the pages in half horizontally for that one, but it looks pretty good too.

Paper Book Wreath

So that’s the first one.  I added a bit of gold spray paint to the tips and some other decoration in red just to spice it up a little.

Permalink 1 Comment

Gift Package Decos

December 6, 2010 at 10:17 AM (Christmas, crafts, recycled) (, , , , , )


Cute Gift Package Decos from Cardboard & Foil


Nik and I made these cute recycled package decorations that can double as ornaments.  We embellished them with a bit of ribbon and metallic cord.

Just cut your shape out of a piece of cardboard (cereal box is good);  for the butterfly we cut only the two wings.  Then we took some old (cleaned) foil and fitted and glued it to the cutout shapes.  For the butterfly’s body, take a strip of newspaper and twist and shape it until you have the body shape; wrap and glue on the foil, then make two slits along the side for the wings and glue them in.  Embellish to your heart’s delight!

These are pretty sturdy, so can be reused.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Dragonfly: Elegance in Flight

November 22, 2010 at 3:01 PM (crafts, dragonfly, paper sculpture, recycled) (, , , , , )

So I became intrigued with the cardboard tube stars/flowers/snowflakes I saw posted all over the web and tried to do some of my own.  These are some samples:



Star, Flower and/or Snowflake made with cardboard tube




The two larger ones are wrapped with fabric scraps I had left over, then covered with a semi-sheer fabric, and I coated the edges with glitter.  The white one is just painted silver around the outside and then I glued on some white lacy trim.

I kept thinking there must be other things I can make with this stuff, then – lo and behold! – as I was playing around with them, a dragonfly took shape.   But I didn’t want to cover the wings with fabric,  so I tried using the coiled foil designs I had used for the lotus sculpture.  These are a few of the results:



Cardboard and Foil Dragonfly Ornament


Asian motif red fabric and Gold mesh Dragonfly
















The one on the left is cardboard tube frame with cardboard backing;  the fill for the wings and body is quilled foil paper strips, and the outside is foil wrapping paper.   The red dragonfly is ribbon-wrapped cardboard with kanzashi-folded red Asian motif and gold mesh fabrics; edges trimmed with gold cording.  On the back I used the same red fabric, but just glued it onto the frame and cut to shape.



Back of Red Fabric Dragonfly




Well, gotta get back to work.  I’m trying to finish a rush order, but needed a short break.  More next time.  Let me know if you like these.  And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Permalink 5 Comments

Next page »