Category Archives: crafting

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Hi everybody, this post is to announce some major changes to the format and content of this blog. I know I’ve threatened this sort of thing before, but this time I really mean it. From now on I’m going to use this platform mostly as a way to share my crafty and artistic endeavors. I am not even going to try to be funny anymore, people. I’m serious! I’m warning you ahead of time so you won’t be disappointed when I start talking about Japanese embroidery patterns.

I had a secret “art blog” on the side for a few months, but I accidentally deleted it. I tried to recreate it and link it to my personal webpage but things got very hairy with primary domains and add-on domains and root files and so forth, and even though I own three domain names, I can’t seem to blog under anything other than good old Rimarama.com. So Rimarama may undergo many iterations, but it will apparently never die.

I hope that you’ll still follow me here, though. I will try to make it worth your while.

So, onward.

I’m contributing to the Heights Arts Holiday Store again this year, and though my original block printed clutches and pouches will still be represented, I’m throwing a few new things into the mix. Inspired by the amazing embroidery of Japanese artist Yumiko Higuchi, I made a series of tiny linen coin purse necklaces that I freestyle embroidered with my own designs.

mini coin purses close up

And some embroidered linen bracelets to go with them.

bracelets and mini coin purses on pattern background

I’m drawn more and more to making things with reclaimed vintage fabrics lately, and so I’ve also made a few patchwork zip pouches using scraps from my vintage fabric stash.

Patchwork Whale Pouch

This one features a quilt square made out of an old feedsack, as well as a vintage button. I only recently discovered that during the Depression Era, when feed supply companies learned that people were sewing clothing out of old feedsacks, they started printing them with colorful patterns and designs. It worked out for everyone involved because women had nicer material to sew with and it was incentive for people to purchase grain from the companies who did this.

Patchwork Postcard Clutch

This one is not made with vintage fabric, but it features a print of a postcard from the 1930s that I bought at an antique fair, scanned, and printed onto a piece of silk.

For those of you who live in the Cleveland area, the Heights Arts Holiday Store opens on November 6th with a reception at 7:00, and will remain open seven days a week through December 30th. They offer an amazing variety of items in various mediums (prints, paintings, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, clothing, accessories and holiday cards). I’m always honored to contribute.

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How To Make Lithuanian Straw Ornaments

As promised, here are steps to make a very basic Lithuanian straw ornament with a four-sided base (šiaudinukas).

himmeli

Okay, these are made from copper tubing, not straw. But the steps are the same!

We are going to use paper straw instead of the traditional rye straw because it’s easier to work with and easier to find, and we’re going to use fishing line instead of thread because when you use fishing line, you don’t need a needle.

Supplies:

  • White paper art straws (you could use plastic as well, but I would judge you)
  • Clear monofilament fishing line (not braided)
  • Ruler
  • Scissors

First, cut twelve pieces of straw so that they are all equal lengths. I recommend anywhere between two to four inches per piece for this first attempt. Be very precise in your measurements because even small differences in length can make the final product lop-sided.

Now cut about and arm’s length of fishing line and string four of the straws onto it, threading them to almost the very end of the line.

Bring the two loose ends of fishing line together and tie them in a knot so that the four straws you strung on the line form a square. From now on, we’re going to call this our “foundation square.”

square

Tuck the short end of the fishing line into one of the straws in the foundation square to hide it.

Now string two more straws onto the long end of the fishing line and tie a knot at one of the corners of your foundation square so that your shape looks like a house with a roof:

house

From now on, we are going to call that roof part an “ear.” (Just go with it.)

Tie another ear onto your foundation square by stringing two more straws onto the end of the fishing line and tying a knot at the next corner of the foundation square. Your shape should look like this:

cat ears

Repeat this process until your foundation square has four “ears.”

IMG_7399

A foundation square with four “ears.”

(When you run out of fishing line, just tie more on making sure to hide the knot you use to secure it within one of the straws.)

When you have four ears around your foundation square, run the fishing line up through one of the ears so that it comes out through the pointy end.

Then tie the ear out of which the fishing line is protruding to the ear opposite from it to form a pyramid. Your shape should look like this:

pyramid

Now thread the end of the fishing line back down to one of the corners of your foundation square and through one of the remaining “loose” ears.

Tie the ear out of which the fishing line is protruding to the ear opposite from it. Your shape should look like this:

IMG_7402

Cute, but not very exciting, is it? This form is the basic building block that, once mastered, makes creating elaborate variations possible. Here are some simple ways to add interest to a basic four-sided ornament:

Use longer straws for two of the four sets of ears:

Use longer straws fro two of the four sets of "ears" to make a teardrop shape. (This is an ornament I made using brass straws.)

Use longer straws for two of the four sets of “ears” to make a teardrop shape. (This is an ornament I made using copper straws.)

Nest a smaller ornament inside a larger one:

Here's a small three-sided ornament nested within a larger one.

Here’s a small three-sided ornament nested within a larger one.

Hang a smaller ornament to the end of a larger one:

An ornament I made using copper straws and pieces of amber.

An ornament I made using copper straws and pieces of amber.

Or use longer straws for the foundation square and shorter straws for the ears:

himmeli ornament closeup 4

You can also hang smaller ornaments from the corners of a larger one:

IMG_6120

The instructions I’ve provided are for making ornaments using a four-sided foundation square, but more elaborate ornaments can be made by making the foundation square five, six, seven, and even eight sided. Alternately, a simple triangle/pyramid shaped ornament can be made using a three-sided foundation.

Good luck.

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Easter Egg Shenanigans

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen decorating my margu?iai (traditional Lithuanian Easter eggs) this year. Many a morning I could be seen hunched over the Professor Bunson Honeydew style wax melting contraption on my kitchen island, dipping a pin head into hot beeswax and mumbling curses like, “Po šimts pypki?!” (One hundred tobacco pipes!) every time I messed up.

Try as I might, I just couldn’t make my eggs look perfect, and perfection is what I strive for in everything I do. (Trust me, several of my eggs didn’t even make the bowl shot cut this year, and you better believe I arranged them in such a way as to display only the good sides.)

marguciai 2013

pink and green margutisgray margutis

First, there were some issues with the wax not getting hot enough on my homemade wax melting apparatus.

potato contraption

Home Made Wax Melting Apparatus

 

The flame was a bit too far away from the spoon with the wax in it, which I fixed easily enough by sawing off the end of the spoon handle.

Just kidding! I raised the candle up to the wax.

Secondly, I didn’t have any pins with heads sized to my liking, so at first I used a nail as my decorating implement and it just didn’t produce nice markings. In the end, I went with a pin with a gigantic plastic head and this actually worked quite well, though it made thicker lines.

pencil tip

Here are a few more tips:

  • Work with warm, or at least room temperature eggs, if possible.
  • Keep your pin dipped in the wax for several seconds before transferring the wax to the egg, and use careful measured strokes. Waiting too long causes the hot wax to cool down, but going too fast makes it look like a Jackson Pollock painting.
  • Limit your pre-decorating coffee intake to one cup in order to reduce hand tremors.

One commenter on my original egg decorating tutorial said that instead of beeswax, she simply uses the wax from a lit candle to decorate her eggs.

In all my years of making Lithuanian Easter eggs, this thought has never occurred to me.

 

(Click here for my full post on Lithuanian style wax Easter egg making.)

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Guilty as a Hedgehog

The hedgehog is an animal that looks really cute in pictures, but from which I would probably run screaming in real life. When the Twin Brothers and I were little, our mother used to read to us from Lithuanian picture books, and hedgehogs always featured prominently. There was one story in particular, about a pair of hedgehogs who accidentally burn down their forest, which the Twin Brothers simply could not get enough of.

It was an early indicator of their future as pyromaniacs. I thought it was the most petrifying story I’d ever heard in my life and couldn’t stand to hear it. It was an early indicator of my intense fear of fire and likely the reason why I did not know how to strike a match when it was my turn to light the Advent wreath during freshman year religion class.

Lately I’ve been drawing hedgehogs as a way to work through my issues with fire.

Ha, that’s not really true. I just like drawing hedgehogs and making rubber stamps.

Doesn’t he just look guilty? Like he recently started a forest fire?

Actually, the squirrel looks like he’s up to something, too. Or maybe he’s afraid of the hedgehog.

Does anyone remember the name of the hedgehog forest fire story and if so, where I could get a copy? I have a feeling my son would love it.

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