Thursday, September 27, 2012

just bleachy

When I was in Minnesota last weekend, I went bonkers over Rachel's pants. She had drawn the prettiest pictures and poetry all over them -- with a bleach pen! She in turn had been inspired by Jen, who once fiddled around with them on dishtowels, and I thought it a marvelous idea. I came home and became a bleaching fool.


These cloth napkins are from Tuesday Morning -- they came in sets of 12 for $19.99 each. I'm sure there are more inexpensive options available, but I loved the jewel colors and thought they were worth the splurge. Plus the tag said DO NOT BLEACH so I was certain these were winners.


Outside I went with my Do Not Bleach cloths and a protective placemat (to spare the bricks from what I don't know). I started out with the dual-tip bleach pen, which is $3 for 2 ounces, and it worked beautifully. The narrow tip and thick gel gave me plenty of control over how and where I placed my lines. However, I blew through 2 of them almost immediately -- it was only enough to cover 5 cloth napkins. Since I had bought the last two at our grocery store, I ran over to CVS to get a few more, but ours doesn't carry it -- so I picked up a 24 oz bottle of bleach gel for laundry for the same price and gave it a try instead.


The bottle of bleach gel is runnier -- and messier -- than the pen, so I had to work quickly. But in the end, I preferred the effects of the bottle. The lines are wider, covers more territory, and stuff just drips where it will. I think the results are much more natural looking -- not to mention that it is much more cost effective than the pen. You can see it working almost immediately here. Do not bleach, indeed.


After bleaching, I let each one sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinsed very very very very very completely and extremely well with cold water. As the gel rinsed off, it created a really nifty batik/marble type of effect across the cloth, while still retaining the pattern that I so randomly bestowed upon it.


After that, I let them flap in the wind. As Amy remarked when she saw these pictures on Instagram, "there goes the neighborhood."


When all 24 were dry, I tossed them into the washer with a smidge of detergent, put them through the hand wash cycle, dried them on low, and then ironed them. It is not in my DNA to do any of those things but sometimes we must suffer for crafting.


It was worth the effort, especially the final push with the iron (that I hadn't picked up for five years).









Now I have two dozen smooth, crispy-edged, totally fake-batiked napkins -- and now my family knows what they're getting for the holidays! If you've made these before and have any tips you'd like to leave in the comments, I'd love to hear and/or see what you've made!

{Update: my favorite fiber mavens Candy and Traci recommend one final step in the process -- neutralizing the bleach in the cloth during the rinse cycle with hydrogen peroxide or anti-chlor, since it's hard to get out completely and can wear down the fibers over time. Check out Candy's links in the comment section for more info. Thanks Candy and Traci!}

{linking to Paint Party Friday.}

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

soul stew part two





























Oh, what can I say that these pictures can't? After what seemed like an untoppable art retreat two autumns ago, Rachel graciously invited us all back last weekend to her cabin in northern Minnesota. We were a cozy group of six -- a bit quieter this time, but still quite enough to cause a substantial creative ruckus.

We woke each morning to a stunning sunrise over Lake Superior; collected stones from the beach and adorned them; devoured the prototype of Rachel's book (coming out in November!); painted wooden bangles and spoons; made aebleskivers (puffy Danish doughnuts); walked, talked, ate, used colorful words, doodled tattoos, begged Lori to sell the bracelets she painted...

I also bought my very own aebleskiver pan and was rather impressed with myself for getting that cast iron sucker through security. I might even use it once! Also scored a parenting fail with the Ole and Lena fortune cookies I took back for my kids, which we found had horribly inappropriate jokes on the inside ;)

Eventually there will be a stew book for this retreat just like I did for the last one -- I just hope it doesn't take me ten months to cook it this time!

Don't mind saying that I'm a little bit yearny looking over all of these pictures. Thank you Rachel and the rest of the stew girls Lori, Jen, Carissa and Liv for a wonderful, unforgettable weekend!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

list it tuesday 9/25: things that make you nostalgic

List it Tuesday 9/25: Nostalgia

Welcome back to List it Tuesday! This week's suggested topic was "things that make you nostalgic". Well, if that didn't blast open a mental and emotional floodgate! Good thing I stopped myself here at one page or I'd have a full set of books filled by now.

If you created a list (on topic or not), I'd love to see it -- please enter your link below so we can find you! Suggested topic for next week is "creative things I could do in 15 minutes or less".

P.S. Just got back from a soulful art retreat in northern Minnesota -- pics coming up soon!

Monday, September 17, 2012

list it tuesday 9/18: goals


List it Tuesday is officially off hiatus! If you're new to the scene, welcome; if you're a returning lister, welcome back! If you made a list this week, please link to your post in the space below so we can find you.

Since I'm hosting, I thought I'd best stay on topic, and so I did. Here is the short list of things I'd like to accomplish by the end of the year. Some are matters of procrastination, other are urgent items of recent development (the skunk problem deserves a post in itself) and the rest are simply things that I'd like to do or actually stick to for a while. There's plenty more, of course, but I can only handle a few things at a time.

Next week's suggested topic is "things that make you nostalgic", borrowed from The Pillow Book -- a thousand year old gem that is my go-to source for list ideas and a wellspring of inspiration for me. You don't have to follow this suggestion, though -- you can write a list about anything!

Thanks for stopping by -- see you next Tuesday!

Friday, September 14, 2012

sharpen your pencils

list it tuesday

Love to make (and read) lists? Me too, and that's why I'm bringing back List It Tuesday! I missed it, and I hope others did enough to give it a try again. As you can see, here I'm going for the mock hard sell to get you all back in the game, with my final plea -- the feeble, outworn "it's fun" -- as the clincher.

I've made a few changes to improve user ease. First, I'll put a linky widget in each post so we won't all go bonkers having to copy and paste links out of the comment section. Second, each week I'll provide a suggested topic for the following week, so you'll have something to either work with or reject in favor of your own. Third, it does not have to be handwritten. Make your list however you wish. Hand write it, illustrate it, type it, scratch it in the sand, spell it out with poker chips, breathe it in the air and capture it on camera. How you choose to do it, I care not.

We'll start up again next Tuesday, September 18. As for the first suggested topic, since I do my resolutions at the beginning of the school year (never at New Year's!) that's what's on my mind right now. What goals do you want to knock out before the end of 2012? (If this sounds like anathema to you, I understand; make up your own topic.)

Tell me I have at least one taker besides my kids? Sharpen your pencils and I'll see you next Tuesday! (Silent list peepers are welcome too.)

(linking to Paint Party Friday.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

public service printables


New to Artsyville: Public Service Printables! Now that both my kids are fully fledged elementary schoolers, I feel a doodly duty to help them along their educational paths. Thus, over time I'll be creating a collection of fact charts, review sheets and other stuff for them to pin on their walls and keep in their folders until the message sinks in. I will also post them here as free black & white printables for kids, parents, teachers, and anyone else who wants to go back to Artsyville Elementary School.

First on the list is subtraction, because that is one function that continues to bedevil our household. Addition, multiplication, and division are all coming and the puns and rhymes are equally bad. I'd like to point out that I now have a deep empathy for the staggering amount of rote memorization these poor children have to go through on their paths to mastery. I was so bored lettering all of these numbers that I fell asleep in my wine more than once. But let us not forget the message that if we give these little fellas their fair due, they will be our trusty pals all our livelong days.

I'll always announce when I have a new printable to post, and if you'd like to see them all in one spot, check out the Public Service Printable button on my right sidebar. Right now there is all of one -- just subtraction -- so you won't have to search too much ;)

The other bit of news for this fall is that I shall attempt to revive List it Tuesday! More on that in the next post!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

illustration friday/paint party friday : imagination

imagination : illustration friday

After a desperately needed, lazy, delicious, and largely non-productive summer, I'm easing back into my imagination with some help from my old buddy Illustration Friday and my new pal Paint Party Friday. A simple combo of watercolor, ink, and thoughts. Stop back on Monday if you have a chance -- I have some fun things planned for Artsyville this fall and I'll tell you all about it then! :)