Pastels

You need:

Paper – Average sketch pad paper works fine for me.

Pastels – Can get a set of crappy ones for $4 at the local big box stores and they work adequately enough.

Results?

Short learning curve and it’s like crayons without the stigma of immaturity.  I use pastels therapeutically just because they are so easy and relaxing to use.

Kindle Unlimited has some good books on pastels available and there are some great youtube channels available for step by step instructions.  This is a good one to sit down and do with the kids.

Took me about 6 projects to get from this:

2019-11-23 19.06.21

To this:

2020-01-26 01.06.02

If you like what you’ve done, a light spritz of hair spray makes a good preservative.

This is ridiculously easy to half-ass and the average 3 year old can handle it just fine.  Though warning: Pastels do not taste as good as crayons.

Resin

As half-assed hobbies go, this one is a straight up NO.  You can do it badly, as my feature image will attest, but you cannot actually do it half-assed and get a good result.

First thing I noticed:

Holy mother of god this is NOT a cheap hobby.  Material-cost wise it’s on par, easily, with oil painting.  The molds aren’t cheap, but at least they are reusable.  This alone would have nixed it, but my son really really really wanted to do some projects with resin (he is getting into amateur cosplay).

Making resin – You take two measuring cups.  Dosage cups work great for this.  You fill one with an amount of Goop A, and the other with an as close to exactly equal as you can amount of Goop B.  You then pour both into another container, one either specifically designed to be reusable or one you don’t mind throwing away afterward.  Stir thoroughly.

You are now on the clock.  You’ve got about 30 minutes, so I suggest you do any and all of your prep work before you make the resin.  This stuff is not forgiving.  If you mess it up, there is little to nothing you can do to fix it other than toss it out and try again.  If your measurements are off more than 5% (very easy when working with small amounts) you will at best get a super flexible result.  More likely, you’ll get a sticky mess that requires acetone to get off your hands.

Let’s check out some options.

1 – You can make your own molds.  It’s actually pretty simple.  To make your own molds, you need a hot glue gun and some hot glue sticks.  You take the item you want to make a mold of and you coat one side of it in hot glue, wait for the glue to dry, then remove the glue in one piece.  You now have a one time use mold.

If you screw it up, just remelt the glue into a little dish, set the item into the dish, then remove the item once the glue dries.  Then you’ve got your mold.

2 – You can do inlays.  Dried flowers.  Beads.  Cool wood.  Little toys.  Thingies you want to preserve.  Simply arrange them in the mold and as gently as possible, pour the resin over them.

3 – You can make your own bezel type jewelry by making a shape out of wire, putting it on a non-stick silicon sheet, and pouring a thin coat of resin into the shape.

4 – You can dye the stuff.

This is an easy hobby.  It’s not a cheap hobby.  And honestly, after the initial novelty wears off, it’s not really all that cool either.  For the vast majority of those cool looking end products you see there is a lot of additional work done.  Sanding, cutting, etc…  A decent dremel is a must have with this hobby at a bare minimum.  For larger projects, you need wood turners, belt sanders, drills, etc…

Unless you are vested in making keepsakes, or enjoy things like making your own chess sets and the like, this one is probably a complete waste.

That said this is a hobby that can be combined with other things.  Say you like making birdhouses.  Take a side of your birdhouse and cut a round hole in it.  Set the side onto the non-stick silicon sheet.  Pour a thin coat of resin.  Set a dried flower onto the resin.  Pour a thin coat of resin over said flower.  Bam.  You’ve got a cool window without a lot of work.  I’d show you a picture of what this looks like, but my son put the end result in a safe place until he finished building the birdhouse and now I can’t find it anywhere.

I told my kid he could make some earrings for his cousins.  I may owe his cousins an apology.  These all used a mica powder for color, though some are straight colored and some are color poured into clear.  This kept him entertained for about an hour, and required fairly minimal supervision for a twelve year old with severe ADHD.

2020-04-12 17.34.42

If you are into cosplay or want to get into cosplay, resin is a great tool for making things like crystals, gems, jewelry, etc…  You can use it to make things like replica amber w/bug in a span of minutes + 1 day curing time.

If you do other types of jewelry making such as beadwork or chainmail, again, this is a great way to get some custom cool stuff to use with that, and you probably already own most of the equipment for finishing the projects.  A quick and easy guide to resin jewelry is available on kindle unlimited.

I used it to make a set of doll eyes.

All in all, given the material costs, I’d probably advise people against picking this one up unless they have a genuine interest.

Fat quarter bags

Some of you can’t go out book shopping, and the libraries are closed.  So for this next project, we are moving to the kindle store.  For all you purse lovers out there, we are doing fat quarter bags.

Okay, first up, we have ‘Fabulous Fat Quarter Bags’ by M’Liss Rae Hawley.  This book has a lot of wonderful projects and ideas.  101 of them, it claims. You know what this book does not have?

Patterns.

Yes.  Seriously.  It’s a sewing book.  With no patterns.  Not even drawings of the patterns that you have to blow up to make work.  Lot of pretty things with no real instructions on how to make them.  Also, those 101 ideas?  Just a dozen different varieties of each type of bag it purports to teach you to make.  I award this book zero asses, and may god have mercy on it’s soul.  Okay, it’s not really bad, it’s just not suitable for this purpose.

Next up, Fabulous Fat Quarter Bags by Susan Briscoe.  This book also has a lot of wonderful projects and ideas.  And if you already know how to quilt, I will recommend it.  Unfortunately, if you aren’t already an expert quilter, you know what this book really doesn’t have either?

Yep.  Patterns.

Okay, I know we are talking about kindle books here.  But we are here to sew, not do geometry.  That’s two books in a row we cannot do half-assed.  What is a forlorn crafter to do?

It’s okay, peeps, I got you covered.  I promised you a fat quarter bag, you are getting a fat quarter bag.  You are going to need the following:

Paper (actually optional).

A ruler.

A pencil/fabric chalk.

Knowledge of how to draw straight lines and 90 degree corners.

2 fat quarters

Ribbon or trim

Needle

Thread

Rum

Coke

Cup

Ice

With me so far?

Step 1 – Put the ice into the cup.  Pour the rum over the ice.  Add coke too taste.  Leave within reach as you do the rest of the project.

You can make a paper template, which might require taping a couple sheets of standard size paper together, or you can measure and draw right on the fabric using chalk or a colored pencil.  It’s a big seam allowance, so if you are careful, you could also use a pen of some kind.

Okay, if you want, take your paper.  Draw the following.  Note, my drawing is not to scale, yours absolutely should be.

2020-04-10 20.51.23

Piece A should be cut from fabric number 1.  13 3/8″ x 8 3/4″ x 2″ x 2″ x 9 3/8″ x 2″ x 2″ x 8 3/4″.  Top seam allowance is 1/2″, all others are 3/8″.

Piece B should be cut from fabric number 2.  It forms the pockets, thus it is the same dimensions as piece A except the sides are only 6″.  If you want a shallower pocket, go for it, but I don’t recommend it.  Ditto if you want a larger pocket.

2020-04-10 20.55.58

I’ve drawn with chalk here rather than use a paper template.

2020-04-10 20.59.45

Pocket needs to be hemmed, or things can get messy.  You can do just a hem like this, but you are better off folding it over again like so:

2020-04-10 21.00.20

Now, you lay piece B on top of piece A.  You want the pretty sides facing up.

2020-04-10 21.01.06

Sew together along the 6″ lengths, 2″ lengths, and 9 3/8″ lengths.  There are two sides, so you’ll need to do this twice.

Then lay one side on top of the other, pretty side of fabric / pocket on the inside.

2020-04-10 21.03.31

Sew together along the 8 3/4″ side and the 9 3/8″ bottom.  DO NOT SEW THE 2″ parts.

Once you are done, adjust the way the piece is laying so the 2″ parts are squished together to form the bottom of the bag, like so:

2020-04-10 21.05.50

Sew together, then turn the whole thing right side out.  Your corners should now look like this:

2020-04-10 21.06.56

Yes, the fabric randomly changed.  I sewed this one when my machine was still working.  You now have the basic bag form.  Next up, handle.

Take a piece of ribbon, or trim, or something else similar.  Figure out how long you want your handles, then turn the ribbon/trim into a big loop.  Sew it to the bag like so, but do not sew it all the way to the very top.

2020-04-10 21.07.09

2020-04-10 21.07.152020-04-10 21.07.29

Now, we have two options.  One, we can do an interfacing and leave the bag open, or we can put in a zipper.  I’m doing this half-assed, as mentioned, and I’m also planning to use this for a gardening bag, so I’m leaving it open.

Remember piece C?  Yeah, this is where that one comes in.  If you’ve used fat quarters, you probably don’t have enough fabric to cut both piece Cs out of one fabric.  No problem.  Use both remaining scraps.  I won’t tell anyone.

2020-04-10 21.07.44

Sew them into the bag, then fold down to make the bag look neater and more professional-ish.

2020-04-10 21.07.55

That’s it.  You’re done.

If you try this, love to see your results.

And seriously, the books aren’t bad, they just aren’t for beginners.  Once you have this bag down, you could probably try a few of their ideas.

 

 

Cloth Doll Making

This installment of ‘Half-Assed Crafts’ is brought to you by Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls by Jan Horrox.  Please convey your sympathy appropriately.2020-04-08 18.17.23

First thing to note – Patterns both are and are not included.  You have to photocopy or redraw them, and they DO NOT include seam allowance.  If you are new to sewing, that can trip you up  I drew the patterns out on regular copy paper, then traced around them onto my fabric with chalk.

2020-04-09 15.00.01

Rules for half-assed crafts are simple:  Only what I have on hand (no going out and buying a new tool), no specialty tools (only what the average household would have), must be able to purchase all materials off the shelf at your average box store.  Some of you might have spotted a possible violation here – the chalk marker.  1 – You can substitute an actual piece of chalk and 2 – they come in most intro to sewing kits.  Depending on your fabric, you can also use a washable colored pencil.

Materials used – 2 fat quarters, one flat beige (can be changed to reflect other skin tones) and one colorful.  Plastic grocery bags used for stuffing – cut them up a bit first.

Now, I tripped myself up here.  The ‘average’ home includes an iron and ironing board.  While I own an iron, I apparently do not own an ironing board.  Buying a new one is a rule violation, so, everything you see was done without ironing the fabric.  Meaning if you managed not to lose your ironing board somewhere, your end results are already going to be better than mine.

2020-04-08 20.45.49

Start by making the head.  As you can see, the lack of iron makes for one heck of a chin.

2020-04-08 21.06.39

Book suggests drawing face before stuffing.  As you can see here, I respectfully disagree with the book, but you do you.   This is just drawn in with the sharpies you see pictured, not painted yet.

2020-04-09 13.39.39

Body was ridiculously simple.  For the record, all of the sewing is done by hand.  Not going to assume the average household has a sewing machine, and I broke mine making masks for friends and family.  However, body is ridiculously simple, and as you can see, not particularly interesting.

2020-04-08 22.40.39

Hair.  Go nuts, the book encourages you to.  This is yarn grabbed from the bargain bin at Jo-Ann Fabrics, and as you can see, it was in the bargain bin for a reason.  Used pink and brown with a bit of yellow.

2020-04-09 16.19.55

Attach the head to the body.  This is where it starts to get a bit tricky.  You can do it with a regular sewing needle and it works fine, but a curved one would make it easier.  It’s basically insert tab A into slot B and sew together.

2020-04-09 16.20.24

Now we exercise our right to bear arms.  You can also, as the author does, bear fingers.  I did not, because I’m sewing by hand and getting those nice tight stitches just isn’t going to happen.  But that’s okay, cause we call this form of crafting ‘half-assed’ for a reason.

2020-04-09 23.46.35

You’ll notice my knees look different.  That’s because, to be honest, I thought the knees pictured in the book looked kind of dumb.

Here in the book you see the method of attachment: A long doll-making needle.  I do not own one, and they are a specialty tool.  Good news?  You can do without them.  You just sew each leg on individually rather than through the entire doll as the book suggests.  And honestly, I like that idea better, as it means ripping one leg off doesn’t cause the other to fall off as well.

Arms go on the same way.

2020-04-10 00.17.06

And here we have it, ladies, gents, and otherwise.  A basic cloth doll.  This is the part where it can get fun.

I’m going to keep it simple though, and here is my end result:

2020-04-10 19.00.21

Necklace, simple wrap around skirt, no shoes, and a little tat on the shoulder.  I’ve also redone the face with some paint to make it stand out more.

Altogether, not including paint dry time, this project took about eight hours.  You can easily expand that time by making a bunch of accessories if you are trying to entertain kids.

Ratings here are all scale of one to ten:

Skill level – 2

Ease – 3

Results – 7

All in all, I’ll give the book a solid 4 and a half stars.  The book also contains a couple additional patterns for those of more advanced skill.

 

Writers wanted for April

I am continuing my quest to find the best and brightest of Kindle Unlimited.  For April, I’m going to be specifically looking for humorous books.  The genre itself need not be comedy, but the winners of the top five will have made me break out laughing, in a good way, at least once.

If you are on Kindle Unlimited and want me to check your book out in April, let me know.

Socialism vs Sociopaths

COVID has disrupted a lot of lives. It’s causing massive problems for a lot of people. Missing work is causing a recession, if not a full on depression. Not having income for even as short a period as a month creates a massive crisis to the point that people are facing utility cut off, eviction, even starvation. Basic needs are going unmet because people are dependent on an hourly wage they can’t earn due to health situations, and there are no real social safety nets to step in and help them out in this time. To complicate it further, horrendous medical debt is being incurred, into the six figures for many.

Take a good long look at this crisis. A really good long look. Look at your own situation. Look at how much not being able to work for a month alone has negatively impacted your life, even if you are lucky enough not to be incurring those medical bills. No paid leave to help you. Minimal social safety nets. Less than a month.

Now, imagine it’s a minimum of three months. And you are guaranteed to be getting those medical bills, which could get into the seven figures if there are complications. Can’t work for a minimum of three months with limited to no paid leave. Outrageous medical bills. And guess what, you’ll have ongoing expenses afterward that limit your ability to pull yourself back up out of that debt. You’ll have complications in your life that will severely impact you on the job front as well, such as a need to take time off, only being able to work certain hours, etc…

Are you really still wondering why I’m pro-choice?
Still wondering why I support candidates that want a strong social safety net even if it means people who make seven figures a year have to pay more in taxes, and god forbid, corporations actually have to pay taxes?

For the love of fuck, can we PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, finally fucking LEARN SOMETHING from all this?

Stop pretending that it can’t happen to you. It’s clear that it can and will. Stop acting like people are poor because of some kind of moral defect on their part. One month where you can’t work. That’s how easy it can be to lose EVERYTHING, and it’s not through any actions of your own.

I can’t explain to you why you should care about other people. If you can’t figure out that tearing apart families and putting children in cages is wrong for yourself I can’t explain it to you. I can’t teach you compassion. If you don’t know racism and discrimination are wrong by now, I can’t help you. I can’t teach you that greed and hatred that start wars and destroy the environment is bad. Logic and reason have failed. I can’t make you care about other people.

But for the love of ever lasting fuck, would you finally get it through your fucking brains that it is in your best fucking self interest to stop voting for the fucking GOP?

Artist Credit

March Five

With the quarantine this month, I’ve read about fifty new books on Kindle Unlimited.   I’d like to present to you, dear readers, my top five, in no particular order:

The Man in the White Suit, by Perry Martin

If you could travel back in your life to fix a mistake, what would it be?  And what would you sacrifice to keep the new future you’ve found?  I’m not ashamed to say this tome managed to wrangle some tears from me.

Until All Curses are Lifted, by Tim Frankovich

Sins manifest as curses, and if you’ve the misfortune to be born in the wrong circumstances, those sins need not be your own.  A tale of familial love, friendship, and indomitable human spirit.  And the best part is?  This one is just the beginning.

Hunger for Life, by Andy Marr

Okay, I’ll admit, this is kind of an odd one for me to put here because the truth is, I didn’t finish it.  But in this case, it’s because of just how well written it is and the heart-wrenching power it possesses.  It hurt beautifully, but it hurt too much.

The Mantle of Autumn, by Kathyrn Reynolds

Switching from the tearjerkers, we have this fairy tale beauty.  Fairy love stories aren’t just for the young, and the strength of age has it’s own great beauty.  And who doesn’t love a good old fashioned happy ending?

Mira’s Griffin, by Christie Valentine Powell

Of these five, this is the one I passed on to my kid to read.  It’s a good story entirely on it’s own standing, but it also raises some moral questions that do get you thinking.  A great tale on multiple levels.  Also, griffins.