Jelly Bean Row

Jelly Bean Row

I love Quality Street chocolates. They remind me of everything good. And I love the colourful wrappers they come in. I’ve wanted to make something out of them for years. This year at Christmas I made sure to save all the wrappers so I’d have lots to work with.

Jelly Bean Row

Quality Street also appeals to my environmentalist side. You can re-use the tins for anything you like. You can recycle the foil wrappers that go under the clear ones, and recently, the company started making the clear wrappers out of vegetable products, so you can actually COMPOST them. How cool is that?

Jelly Bean Row

So what am I making with these?  I’m glad you asked.  St. John’s is famous for its colourfully-painted and artfully crooked row houses.  They’re often likened to a line of jelly beans, stacked on their ends — Jelly Bean Row.

Jelly Bean Row

If you watch any of those ever-popular tourism Newfoundland and Labrador commercials, you’ll see a few of them (though in real life they’re not quite so quaint — or clean).

Jelly Bean Row

So I thought I would make a few out of Quality Street wrappers, something to send people to paste in their windows, or to hang on their Christmas trees as ornaments, something that will catch the light and give them a taste of St. John’s at home.

Jelly Bean Row

Jelly Bean Row

The house construction is pretty simple.  I used black construction paper, folded in half, as a frame.  Then I cut out the frame using a craft knife and inserted and glued down the wrappers in the appropriate spaces.  Then I cut out windows and doors from the black paper as well, making sure to glue them to both sides so the ornament is reversible.

Jelly Bean Row

The problem with this particular material is that the wrappers always want to go back to their wrinkled state, and the construction paper doesn’t do a lot to prevent it.

Jelly Bean Row

A heavier-grade card would probably work better in keeping the stuff rigid, but at the same time, it would be harder to manipulate.  I wanted to make several of these hanging ornaments and create a sort of mobile for Doodle for her birthday, but the physics of it continued to defeat me — the ornaments were simply too light to be able to balance everything properly.  And I had it all planned so the houses went up on a slant, too!

Jelly Bean Row

Alas. In any case, they are pretty enough placed in a window or on your tree.

Jelly Bean Row

Braided Rag Doily


Braided Rags

The scraps for this came from the edges of the trimmed Fat Quarter Napkins I made.

Braided Rags

I braided the scraps together, tying on new strips as I ran out of length.

Braided Rags

It took a while.

Braided Rags

Then I rolled up the braid to keep it from tangling.

Braided Rags

I had some fun shooting the braid with my macro lens.

Braided Rags

Then I started sewing it together in a circular pattern.

Braided Rags

I just used a regular whip stitch. Nothing fancy.

Braided Rags

I kept going …

Braided Rags

… and going …

Braided Rags

… and going. I even stood at the front of the class on three separate occasions and sewed this while my students were writing their final exams. Fortunately, they already thought I was weird, so this was nothing new to them.

Braided Rags

The finished product was a little wonky and tended to curve in on itself, so I got it good and wet with hot water, squeezed it out, stretched it to the shape I wanted it, and then laid it between two towels under a heavy board for the night.

Braided Rags

I ended up with this cheerful miniature rag rug, which would make a nice placemat for the centre of any table.

Braided Rags

Have a Drink on Me

Happy New Year!

I’m still catching up on some DIY gift posts here, so I’d like to show you some drinking glasses I made for some special people for Christmas this year.  If you’d like to know more about how to cut glass bottles, or how to etch glass, click on those links back there.

I spent a lot of time with a rotary tool (the most popular brand name of these is a Dremmel), grinding down the edges so they were safe for human mouths.  There was a lot of sparkly dust everywhere after that.

Drinking Glasses

These ones were for Cait, who has a lovely dachshund named Ruby.  The glass I used came from vinho verde (the pale blue) and riesling (the dark blue).  Out of curiosity (and as a rather lengthy aside), I asked my cousin Lindz, who studied as a sommelier, why certain wines come in different coloured bottles.  I figured she’d know the answer — of course she did.  It’s all about the UV exposure.  Wines that are to be consumed in a short amount of time require no UV protection, hence the whites you pick up at the wine store coming in clear or blue bottles.  Reds need more time to sit around, and so come in the darker green or brown bottles.  Blue bottles, according to Lindz, are not as commonly manufactured, and so are more expensive, but easier to recycle.  I hope to have a bit more on the amazing machinations of Lindz and her very clever team when I’m in Vancouver this summer, but until then you can check out their most recent television appearance here.  If you are on the lower mainland, I recommend checking Re-Up out!

Drinking Glasses

The dog stencils I got off the internet and stretched a bit to fit the glass diameter.  I used a cutout for one and then produced a “negative” using the bit I cut out and by frosting the rest of the glass.

Drinking Glasses

These ones are for Rusty, who is living the life in a bachelor pad with another dude and an enormous television set.  I figure these glasses, which I made out of some fancy Italian water bottles, will hold beer and also a Rusty-sized serving of milk or juice.

Drinking Glasses

I figured he would like to know how much he’s drinking. I like the slightly blue tint of these glasses, though the thinness of the bottle meant that I did crack two attempts by overheating it. That’s why there are only three — I cracked two bottles and then the grocery store stopped stocking that brand of water, so I couldn’t get any more.

Drinking Glasses

And these ones are for Kristopf, who moved in with his fiancée, Atlas, this year.  I figure the glasses are grown-up enough that both male and female members of this household will approve.  They are made out of Perrier bottles, many of which I broke while learning how to cut on a curve.  I think the little sprout pattern is well-suited to the green glass.

Drinking Glasses

Crystal Cascade

Crystal Cascade

My niece vacillates between wanting to be President of the United States and wanting to be a princess. She can probably be both. She’s a smart kid. A smart kid who likes things that are pretty and sparkly.

So once I can figure out how to package this properly, I’m sending it off to her for Christmas.

You’ll remember that I experimented with cutting rings when I learned how to use my glass-cutting kit a while back.  Of course, I broke way more rings than I succeeded in creating, but finally I managed to make enough to have this work out the way I wanted it. I have some rings from a ginger jar, a salsa jar, some beer bottles and two wine bottles.

Crystal Cascade

My first step was to gather my gear together: the rings, some sturdy fishing line, a pair of scissors, a strong stick, a towel, and a bowl of warm water and vinegar.

Crystal Cascade

The water and vinegar help to remove any residue on the glass from my cutting process.  Gets rid of fingerprints, too.

Crystal Cascade

So now I have arranged the rings in the order in which I want them.

Crystal Cascade

And I used the scissors to score some lines on the stick, to hold the fishing line in place and keep it from sliding off under the weight of the glass.  I will put a dab of glue on each knot afterwards just to be on the safe side.

Crystal Cascade

Now to tie everything together.  I used reef knots, to ensure everything was super tight.

Crystal Cascade

Then I attached it to the stick and looped some more fishing line on the top to use as a hanger.

Crystal Cascade

The full deal, though the light could be better.

Crystal Cascade

A cascade of pretty colours!

Crystal Cascade