musings, mutterings, and creative muddle. . .

Friday, December 19, 2014

Buttoning Up Last Minute Ornaments

Got Buttons?!?! You know I do!!! Every shade of every color and nearly every size from teeny-tiny buttons for baby garments to big ol' over-sized 1960's coat buttons.

Looking for a last minute quick little gift the kiddies can help create? Look no more - I got this one buttoned up! How do these strike you?

Cute, right??

As long as you can come up with some clear glass or plastic ornaments where the top comes off,

a big ol' stash of buttons,

and bits of ribbon or fabric

 - you are good to go!

Pop the top (push the metal 'collar' while gently pulling on the metal hoop on the top. Both pieces will come off together),

put in some buttons (I decided to repurpose a snack tray and sort some buttons by color - a GREAT project for the kids!!),

replace the top and tie with a bit of ribbon

or strips of fabric.

Ready for a Christmas tree, metal ornament display tree or on pretty little glasses,

How about displaying them on a tiered cake stand?

Easy, peasy, no-stress and fun!  Call up all your friends and family and have everyone bring all their tins and boxes of buttons for some great together time fun!

Have an Ornamental kind of day -

Robin Z

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Wish for you: An OKAY kind of Holiday

As we're all completely immersed in the Holiday Season once again, there's something that's being weighing on me that I feel compelled to share. Life ain't a Hallmark movie, folks. And quit beating yourself up trying to make your holiday decorations, celebrations, and gifts meet that unrealistic bar. Additionally - It's Okay!!! A crooked little Peanuts tree is okay! A frozen turkey dinner is okay! Using gift bags (and no bows) or newspaper (and no bows) to wrap presents is okay! As long as there is love, joy, and an appreciation of those around you - It's All OKAY!

I realized several years ago that while I 'dream of a white Christmas' in October. . . and started planning activities and decorations in November, it was a struggle to carry through in December and as The Day got closer, the more I felt unprepared, inadequate, and stressed. Yes. Stressed.

Stressed to meet these lofty expectations I had set upon myself, that TV movies and certain Craft Mavens had set before me. Then the guilt would set in. Yes. Guilt. 

Guilt that I let my friends and family down by not attaining the perfectly wrapped gift, the thoughtfulness of homemade fruitcake (well. . . maybe not *fruitcake*) or cookies, or the picture perfect white Christmas.

I finally admitted out loud that all I truly wanted for the holidays - whether it be the Thanksgiving family gathering, or Christmas Day festivities - was a relaxing day of cooking, cocktails, laughing and a generous sprinkling of love.

Through tears, I confessed that as the Holiday-day got closer, my anxiety went up; my depression increased; I became more stressed to the point of actually NOT enjoying the day and spent it just waiting for it to go away and be over. Wow. How very sad is that?

Once it was vocalized, I was reassured that it was okay. 

And while parts of the holiday spirit are going to include some stress (and sadness due to family losses over the holidays in recent years), that it was OKAY to not unpack every Christmas decoration I own and put it *somewhere* in my house.

It was OKAY if presents weren't perfectly wrapped.  And it was OKAY to choose not to make that extra fancy dessert because I just didn't feel like it. It's OKAY.

This year's Thanksgiving found us focusing more on the togetherness aspect and working together to create a lovely meal and relaxing day enjoying each other's company. This mood carried over to the Christmas decorating that took place on that Friday (wasn't Black Friday for us) and I put out fewer Winter Holiday decorations than most years. And it was Okay.

I chose my favorite things (such as my Dad's sled and Mom-in-Law's ice skates) and things that were easily located amidst its storage box mates (such as the little wooden 'present' boxes on the coffee table and sparkly, leafy garland wrapped around the dining room light). And I was sure to hang my favorite Christmas ornaments on the tree - especially my Snoopy ornament that's not missed one Christmas tree since 1979.

 And. . . It's OKAY!!

The pressure of the Perfect Holiday hasn't been completely erased (perhaps next year. . . ), but the stress is less, the love is more and I've enjoyed the season more. We'll see how I feel as we get closer to Christmas Day and I hope this feeling carries through. But, most importantly, it's OKAY. No matter how you celebrate the holidays - fill it with love, patience with others, and compassion for yourself. It's Okay!

Have an Okay Christmas ~

Robin Z

Friday, September 26, 2014

That's a Great Set of Pipes!

I needed. . . no wanted. . . .a new display set for my jewelry when I set up at Art Shows. Not that there was necessarily anything wrong with what I had - I just felt like I could do better. Always watching and looking for ideas, I came across something I thought was The Best Thing ever!!!

I thought about it. . . stewed over it. . . sketched out my thoughts and dimensions. . . Then finally talked to Hubster about my idea and he thought it was smashing! And that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

We were out of town on a middle-of-the-week weekend excursion (Empty Nesting is AwEsOmE, BTW) and he said we needed to go to a specific home improvement store. Thinking he was shopping for that elusive chain saw that's been on his list all summer, I knew I could wander around and find other neat-o stuff to look at.  When, SURPRISE! He directed me to the plumbing department and we proceeded to pick out parts for my idea. Considering I was ill-prepared and did not have my drawings and measurements with me - I did push my brain, did a lot of envisioning and ended up with all the parts needed (barring one floor flange, black stain, screws, and liver of sulphur).

Saturday was spent cutting pipe and sawing some reclaimed wood (a discarded piece of mop boarding from my 1950's kitchen).

And soldering all the pipes.

A looooong day! I had my trusty dimensions and sketches and always measured twice (only made one mistake, and it was a judgement call on my part - and I changed my mind). The end goal was five bracelet / necklace racks, and four decorative / ring posts.

But first. . . I had to figure out how to age and stain that wood. I didn't want a traditional stain color - but something with more personality. Enter steel wool, vinegar, and tea. That's right. . . You read it right. I took a handful sized wad of 0 steel wool and shoved it in a mason jar and covered it with white vinegar (do NOT tighten the lid and let it set outside. Trust me!!). I had to wait at least 24 hours to try it. . . So the official brewing of the tea wasn't going to occur until the next afternoon, so to speak. in the meantime, I started researching how to 'blacken' and soften the bright copper flash and dash of the pipes.

The next day I brewed my black tea and painted it on my boards. Boooring. . . Nothing happened. I let it dry (didn't take long) and then brushed on the steel wool - vinegar mixture. Oh! What's happening?!?!  Cool!!! As I was wanting a deeper tone than what was occurring (think 80's walnut) I repeated the process 12 hours later and then 24 hours later. Still not quite right, so off to get the torch and add some scorch marks. Better. . . but. . . . off to our local hardware store a I trekked and returned home with some black stain with finish and a sanding block. A quick brush on, let it dry (again - didn't take long) and lightly sanded it. Oh! Yes! That's it!!! Topped it with a matte finish and Gorgeous!

Now for the pipes. What to do with those bright shiny pipes? Liver of sulphur seemed the answer with some Renaissance wax to hold the 'finish.' I had to order it then wait three days for it to arrive. My beautiful wood blocks were so impatient. I took some time and did some painting on the silver-toned floor flanges - making them antique black as well. And admired my blocks. . . .Then my order arrived - hooray! Earlier than expected even - Double Hooray!!!

I quickly got things rounded around:  heated water for mixing, located containers, mixed up some baking soda water, set up a work area outside in the shade, got the hose turned on and close by, put on my apron and gloves, got rags and brushes ready,  and rounded up the pipes. I was ready!! I had read the instructions, and learned tips and tricks of the trade via the internet - so here we go.

Well. . . . disappointment. Just wasn't what I envisioned. I started with the ring posts and though the first one seemed to come out okay (nothing fab - but okay) I went ahead with the other three ring posts. Yeah. . . .No. Sigh. . . . Back to reading the tips and tricks. . . I scrubbed the pipes and tried another tact. YES! I brushed the liver of sulphur gel onto the pipe straight out of the little jar and waited. And waited a little longer. Patience. After about 15 - 20 minutes (a complete guess as a friend stopped by about this point and we visited while I went through the routine) I dunked it in my baking soda water, wiping it down with a wet rag then set aside to dry. Once dry, my trusty extra fine sanding block and I got busy sanding. Oh My Goodness!!!!  Gorgeous! A couple hours later and all the pipes are now done. LOVE!!! I let them 'rest' for 24 hours then went at them with the Renaissance Wax. Wax on, wax off, buff. Twice.

While the wax took the rosy patina down a notch - it deepened the black areas just ever so slightly and evened the tones out. I like it. I like it a lot.

The blackish floor flanges (that's really what they're called) you see there at the bottom of each pipe set started out a steely gray color. A couple of dustings of flat black spray paint, then a solid coat of matte clear finish and you get an antique-y 'burnt' black look.

BTW - I had planned on taking photos throughout the whole process (started Saturday, and they were officially finished and assembled today. Lots of hours were put in (best guess is at least 12) as well as many trips to the hardware store (7 covers it) - and Hubster was gone for much of it. Oh, he got me motivated, supported me, sawed the wood and cut and soldered the pipe, but I was on my own for the rest. . . And as each process involved gloves and some sort of highly-staining substance - well. . . photos just weren't happening. At least I have the befores and afters, right?

Speaking of after - here they are all assembled (two more trips to the hardware store - came home with 1" #6 screws and I needed #8!!  Doggone it. . . But totally worth the extra trip:-)

And I was able to get the project finished a full day and a half BEFORE the art show. Good timing, I say. . . Good timing!

Wanna see them with jewelry and on my table and all glitzed out? Ya gotta come to Artist Alley in Chanute, KS for the grand premiere!  Or follow ksyardbird on Facebook to see when ksyardbird (complete with pipes, jewelry, and home decor) will be at an art show near you . . or have patience, cross your fingers, and hope for photos to be posted.  I would recommend seeing the display in person ;-)

*UPDATE* How about a couple pics of The Pipes 'in action'???

My Artist Alley Display (complete with a 'mug' of me - LOL!) at the end of September 2014. I used my 6' folding table for this one. A little tight - but it worked.

Holiday Open House at my favorite local gift shop November 8, 2014. I used about a 4' table which made things extremely snug-  but you know what? It all fit!!!

& then my own Holiday Wingding at my home / studio December 13, 2014. I dragged out the big ol' 8' table and it was great to spread out!!!! I ended up not using one of the racks - but had plenty of room had I needed it.

It's just so great having a customized, consistent (yet flexible), and 'trademark' looking display. And what a great learning experience it was!!

BTW - I see you eye-balling my upcycled clipboards. . . hehe. Those are for another blog :-)

 Have a Good-Set-Of-Pipes Kind of Day -

Robin Z

Friday, September 12, 2014

Back to Buttons

Button, button, who's got the button?

Most of us have memories of playing with a relative's box or tin of buttons. Sorting them by size. By color. By how much we liked them. I used to play with my Great-Grandma Clara's buttons. She kept them in a round tin (I wonder where that tin went. . . and the buffet it was kept in?). There weren't that many - but definitely enough to keep me occupied while she was busy at her sewing machine. Some of the buttons were shiny mother of pearl, some were clear glass (some of those were large enough to pretend they were bowls for my Barbie's dining room table), a few were wood, several had rhinestones, and more were plastic in every shade and color you can imagine.

My own kiddos played in my button tin - by this time it was a conglomeration of buttons I had purchased, a few of those extra-special ones from my Great-Grandma Clara, some from Hubster's Grandma Ellen, and others from here. . . there. . . and what-not. On occassion a button (or two or three or eight) would go missing to only show up later in His pocket or as Her teeny-tiny Polly Pocket puppy's bowl. 

Several years ago,  I was brought back to the beauty of buttons by a cousin (shout out to Stacy - Thank You!) who suggested making rings with them. Wire-wrapped rings to be precise. And I did -

as well as dabbled in a few other super-fun (and totally adorable) creations along the way. How about some Bon-Bon Button Barrettes?

Or over the top quirky (with a few added 1970's 'flora') brooches?

But I gradually gravitated away from the button mindset and focused more on my love of pearls, crystals, and semi-precious stones in my jewelry creations. But those buttons were always calling me.

One recent evening found me obsessing over my buttons. . . I decided the studio collection needed to come out again and become a larger part of my treasures to be shared with everyone. And, let me tell you, I have a heckuva collection thanks to friends, family, and estate sales. Check out this set of camp-dishes I re-purposed specifically to help me keep track of all my beautiful buttons!

So much button-love in those five felt-lined pans!  I spent an evening sorting buttons - picking my favorites and brainstorming. . . then getting creative!

A bracelet: 



And I even included some on up-cycled bottles & jars!

Yup. Back to Basics. . . Back to Buttons - it's a good place to be!

Got Button?

Have a Beautifully-Buttoned-Up kind of day -

Robin Z

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Somewhat Nutty. . . Definitely Squirrely

Minding my own business the other morning. . . Grabbed a latte and walked to the ksyardbird Studio (okay - that was what, a total of about 2 dozen steps to the second floor of my home - LOL!), opened the blinds to my favorite window that overlooks the backyard with the most squirrel infested tree in the neighborhood. I look out to see what my nutty fiendish friends are up to and. . . .

It had rained the night before - but had there been that much wind? I mean, walnut trees do 'shed' leaves on odd occasions. . . but, seriously, this was a bit much. What's going on? I headed outside to take a closer look.

Hmmmm. . . . Gotta be squirrels. Somenutty got busy and built a nest overnight - apparently. I looked up to see if I could spy it 

I could - but the camera couldn't quite 'grab it' so I can't really share it with you. BUT (don't be disappointed) I did snap a couple pics of the other two squirrel nests in our trees.

See that 'pile' of dead leaves waaaay uuup theeeeere? Yeah - talk about high-rise, eh? Bet there's a good breeze too. WOW!!! This one seems a bit more logical (and sturdy) to me

See it there in the 'crook' of the tree? There's it's tenant on the branch next to it. Let's get a closer look

A little camera shy, eh?  They don't seem to mind near as much when I snap from inside the Studio. And as there were Treasures waiting for me on the Creation Station, inside I went. . . then promptly got distracted again by this guy hanging upside down. Seriously? UPSIDE DOWN?!?!?!

Nibbling on walnuts, it appears. Good squirrels!! 

Those darned things fall all over the place - leaving pock marks on our porch steps, breaking pots, and just being obnoxious pebbles to trip over when walking out in the yard. Of course, I still put treats in their feeders

Which they really 'get into'. (see what I did there? With that play on words. . . to go with the pics??) 

They are polite squirrels and do share with the birds once in awhile

Though their manners seem to fail when it's time to share with each other -  spats, chasing, and stare-downs are the norm among these nutty guys.

In the end, everyone ends up with full tummies and ready for a nap

Or a game of squirrel-tag on the picnic table

There are anywhere from a couple to seven squirrels running around our trees on any given day. . . And I do wish at least ONE of them could pick up that leafy mess. . . 

Have a Nutty Kind of Day - 

Robin Z