Dot Photo Frame Refresher

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Leveling Up

Many people in my social bubble have turned to handcrafts during the covid-19 pandemic as a way to pass the time and provide comfort. I’ve seen such a wide spread of projects and patterns and inspiration as a consequence, and enjoyed every one. Here’s a project of my own.

I’ll share what I thought would be a quick photo frame refresher but turned out to be anything but. The results are worth the effort, though, so all’s well that ends well. πŸ™‚

I wanted to make over two older, uber-cheap 5”x7” wooden photo frames. They’re made from pine (I think) that had yellowed over the years, and I was quite tired of the darkened wood. I’ll first give the short version and the before and after photos, and after that the full saga.

Here’s a frame after the complete refresher: white wax, faux nailhead trim done with paint, and permanent marker polka dots.

Dot Photo Frame with Pens

Dot Photo Frame After

Apparently I didn’t take a before photo, but here’s a photo of similar untreated frames:

Walmart Wallniture Unfinished Wood Photo Frames

Walmart

The only difference is my frames were much more yellowed. (Oh, boy, how much more!) Here’s a frame in the middle of the transformation:

Dot Photo Frame Middle Closeup

I originally intended to try whitewaxing the frames. It’s a new-to-me technique I found via Cami at Tidbits. (I like her clear tutorial and whitewaxing projects; please visit her site if interested.)

However, I accidentally bought clear wax instead of white. (I worked on this just before and during some of the worst covid-19 panic in Massachusetts; I guess I had a coronabrain on.) Even while working on the frames I didn’t notice, because the clear wax looks white in the jar. Only after applying a couple of layers did I start wondering why the frames don’t seem to be gaining the lovely transparent white surface I expected… D’oh!

After some thought and more research I tried adding white acrylic crafts paint into the wax and wiping that on with a rag. Either I didn’t mix it properly or the rag wasn’t the best tool, for the surface came out quite uneven. You can see some of the effect in the photo above. However, it was much closer to what I had envisioned.

Perhaps I should’ve left well enough alone – indeed, in hindsight I think I would be quite happy with the improvised faux white wax – but at the time I was disappointed and wanted something else to β€œimprove” the frames. I had an idea of trying to mimic nailhead trim with paint.

Dot Photo Frame Middle

I used an eraser at the end of a pencil and blue acrylic paint. Unfortunately, that made it worse. I’ve never been a polka dot person, and apparently this faux nailhead trim is close enough not to appeal to me. Plus, the eraser was a bit difficult to load with paint and use, even though I started with a clear expectation that the result wouldn’t necessarily be very even.

At this point I had to set the frames aside and chew the matter some more. Eventually, while looking for something else, I ran into two permanent marker tutorials. One is by Jessica from Cutesy Crafts (posted at DIY Candy), and the other by Tasha at Kaleidoscope Living. Both used letter stickers to mask off an area and applied small permanent marker dots all around them, spaced very tight close to the stickers, and wider and wider apart the further you went.

Bingo! I adapted the idea and used markers in five different colors. First I had to make a few dry runs on paper to see what kind of dot distancing and which color combinations I liked best.

Dot Photo Frame with Pens

I ended up starting with a few small brown spots here and there (maybe 4-8 in an inch of frame). Then I added dark blue and green dots, increasing the density slightly. Next, a few more spots of turquoise. Finally, I filled almost all remaining gaps between the blue β€œnailhead trim” and the rest of the marker dots with lime green.

Here’s the after photo again:

Dot Photo Frame After

…and a closeup:

Dot Photo Frame After Closeup

And only very, very belatedly did I notice that I completely forgot to wax-treat the inner edge of the frame, the one closest to the photo. Fortunately at that point I was able just to laugh at my poor coronabrain project!

And it actually doesn’t look that odd in the end. Live and learn! After all of the rigamarole, I was definitely able to earn a number of experience points from this project.

Decor Tip: Hanging Wall Art with a Fork

Leveling Up, Thumbs Up

Guys! I found a really, excitingly, fabulously easy way to hang wall art:

How to easily hang a picture using a fork by 5-Minute Crafts / Creative Ideas on YouTube

Right? RIGHT!?! πŸ˜€

Found via Diane Henkler at In My Own Style.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

A Sleep Mask Prototype

Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

One of the results of a recent prototype making session:

Critter Sleep Mask

A sleepy critter sleep mask. Brown felt with felt applique and embroidery; lined with a soft linen blend fabric for comfort. This is my very first attempt at this particular design, and I’m pretty pleased with the proportions and the expression.

I was trying for a bear – how did I do?

First Batch of Reflectors Is Now on Etsy

Ahem Ahem!, Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

The first batch of reflectors is now listed in my Etsy shop.

1st Batch of Reflectors

These 2-sided personal safety reflectors are meant for pedestrians. They are designed to attach inside a coat pocket and to hang down at your side when in use. The reflectors come with a safety pin and string for hanging. Like so:

Reflectors in Use Not in Use

The concept is based on the reflectors I wore in my childhood, growing up 2 hours south of the Arctic Circle in Finland. In fact, I still use them – even though Massachusetts isn’t nearly as dark as Finland in winter, here in the south it gets dark year-round. The reflectors increase your visibility so much in low light conditions that I almost feel naked without one. Each of my jackets has its own dedicated reflector, and I keep extras around just in case. (They do occasionally break or get lost.)

Made with polyester felt and reflecting fabric in three silhouettes: heart, minimalistic feather or dragon’s head. Each of the three designs comes in two or three different colors.

Dragons Head Reflector Colors Collage
Feather Reflector Colors Collage
Heart Reflector Colors Collage

Check out Flickr and Twitter for some work-in-progress photos.

It’s exciting to get a new project out into the world! πŸ™‚

Adding to My Textile Vocabulary

Fabrics & Materials, Leveling Up

Because I trained back home in Finland, I learned my sewing terminology in Finnish. Already before I moved to the U.S., I picked up a lot of English vocabulary from my hobby sewing. My favorites were earlier historical eras, though, which resulted in a curious melange of terms and terminology.

Nowadays whenever I make construction notes on my projects they usually end up a mix of Finnish and English terms and abbreviations, even though I try to stick with one language only.

Terminology Resources

To keep adding to my English vocabulary, I draw from both physical and online resources. I read guidebooks and keep binders where I file tearaways and printouts. I’ve also started bookmarking online resources.

Below are some sites I’ve found useful for learning the terminology for various aspects of textile work.

Do you have favorites you’d like to add?

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Random Beauty to-Be: Hyacinth Bulbs Growing

DIY, Leveling Up, Random Beauty

I got three hyacinths as a Christmas present last year. They blossomed wonderfully before fading. Now, I don’t have a green thumb at all, so I wasn’t sure whether – or if! – they would survive and re-bloom. I’ve been watering the seemingly dead bulbs throughout the year, hoping against hope that they’re alive.

Last Years Bulbs Growing

And they are! Yay! This is a major accomplishment for me. πŸ™‚

Wool on Wool with Medieval Motif

Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

While pawing through my fabric bins in search of wool for another project, I came across an old embroidery that I’d forgotten about. I originally had a purpose for it, but my plans changed, and so the finished embroidery sat around for years.

The pattern is from 9th century metalwork, with an animal – dog, if I’d had to guess – framed by a triangle. I got it from Eva Wilson’s book Early Medieval Designs (in the British Museum Pattern Books series). I used blue wool yarn on mustard-y orange wool blend.

This embroidery project was a textile history nerdery win for me, because it was my first attempt at a historical design without a counted pattern (such as cross-stitch) or a pattern drawn on the fabric. I did measure and mark the corners for the triangular frame but eyeballed the rest.

In the spirit of celebrating your successes, I decided to frame the embroidery to hang somewhere in the house rather than keep it hidden.

I don’t remember why I chose complementary colors for the work; I guess that’s what I had available at the time. The effect is a little jarring, though, which is why I chose a neutral, naturally light-colored wood frame. The two-layered mat has a narrow navy accent on the inside, which goes with the blue yarn very well.

Looking good. πŸ™‚ I still need to decide where exactly I want it.

Cross-Body Bags: Prototypes and Two OOAKs

Colors, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Leveling Up

My book bag project inspired me to try sewing cross-body bags. As usual, the first step is making prototypes to try out different fabrics and proportions. It only took two tries – the photo below shows my second attempt – to find something both pleasing and functional.

It must mean I’ve gained more experience points. Lovely!

I also made two one-of-a-kinds to sell. They’re both made with lightweight cotton duck (canvas) off the bolt and have accents pieced together from various quilting cottons; inside there’s a pocket.

 

I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. Perfect for rainbow lovers, from the reading kind to the parade kind and everything inbetween. πŸ™‚

The wide accent stripes in a rainbow of colors were inspired by how a spectrograph disperses white light into color spectra (and originally made waaay back). The burgundy red bag has 18 colors, the navy 17 in the accent stripe. As usual, there’s more photos on Flickr.