Made by hands, expressed from the heart.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Kawaii bento lunch.

Today is Monday, and I treated myself to a kawaii lunch.
I always wanted to try to make a cute bento box, and with the leftover rice and vegetables I had in the garden, I put together a little cat. To mold the face I used a sandwich cutter, and the details were seaweed cut with scissors. I used a heart mold to shape the belly.
The vegetable cutter was good to make small flowers.
And I collected some more vegetables in my garden.
The vegetables were steamed with a couple of dumplings I had from yesterday.
Probably it was unnecessary work to make this just for me to eat.
But for sure it is so cute, it made my Monday better.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Real wood art from Dad.

My father worked all his life in a automobile factory, as a tool maker. After he retired, he started working with wood in our backyard in Brazil.
He would make beautiful furniture, well finished and very detailed. But nobody wanted to pay for something made by hand, at least at that time, and preferred to buy something made in a factory.
Since he was very good at playing pool(or billiards), he started making pool sticks (I think they are called cues).
He made everything by hand, using only a few tools, like his drill and made other tools with wood or metal to help him finish these pieces.
What was impressive was that he eyeballed them to be perfectly straight, hand carved the wood and cut different pieces to be fitted with precision in surfaces that were not straight. Then I remember he sanded his pieces attaching the to his old drill.
He also made the bags to store them, cut and sewed them.
They were made with care and perfection, and like other handmade pieces nobody would pay for them. People often said:"If you make them at home, you should give them for free.".
But he continued to make them, until his hands could not work anymore, and because he had to care for my mother, who had alzheimer's disease and passed almost 10 years ago.
These pictures were taken a few days after he passed, about 5 years ago. My sister and I had to donate most of his belongings, and most of these pieces were not allowed to leave Brazil, because the wood was indigenous to the country.
We gathered all our cousins and uncles (we have a lot), and each one kept one piece, including us.
Today I am lucky enough to have these pictures, to have in my memory his technique, the way he executed his craft, and hopefully to inherit and pass along the eye for detail, patient hands, and the love for art.
Thank you Simone Izumi for the pictures.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Raijin, the God of Thunder.

In my recent obsession for Japanese art, I came across the image of Raijin, the God of Thunder.
I found the description of this spirit beating drums to create thunder so fascinating. That is why I needed to have him. And as always, on the verge of buying an already made t-shirt, I wonder if I could make my own.
So I decided to try this technique I tried before, using freezer paper.
First I draw my Raijin in paper, and transfer to the freezer paper, shiny side down (this will be the part that sticks to the fabric).
Next step was to use an exacto knife and cut the image all over. This part took me more than a day because of the details.
Placing the shiny side of the paper down, I used the iron to stick the paper to the fabric.
Then I used my fake silk screen, made of a piece of sheer silk attached to an embroidery hoop.
I had extra help to hold the hoop in place, and applied the paint with a spatula.
This was done on top of a pillow.
After I spread around the whole area, I gently pulled the paper.
The next day, after this part was dry, I used the same technique to make the Japanese characters. It says Raijin in kanji.
And after this part was also dry, I had to use fabric markers to make the details I couldn't get before.
And finally I got my Raijin t-shirt.
Maybe it is a lot of trouble to get a simple t-shirt, maybe I should just had ordered it when I saw it online.
But I guess I like to do it the Japanese way: more complicated.

Raijin in my shirt.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Minecraft Enderman Piñata.

For the Minecraft party, the choice to make a piñata was Enderman, this long creature with creepy eyes that I am sure made my neighbors scared.
But the kids like him/it, and it was an easy project to make.
All I used was a box wrapped in a black table cover from the dollar store. The cardboard from the bottom was cut out and the box was filled with goodies. Then the open bottom was closed with regular wrapping paper and tape, to make it easier to break. And a hole on top to place a string to hang the box. I used an old name tag that had a string.
Then using the rest of the black table cover, I just cut his long body, arms and legs to attach to the box.
The eyes were cut pieces of white paper, and painted in purple. You can use purple paper too, I just didn't have any available at the time.
Since it was easy to break because of the paper on the bottom, I just gave the kids some foam pool noodles to hit the piñata. The hard sticks to hit scare me, especially with a bunch of boys.
My husband was in charge of this game, and we both forgot the detail of the blindfold.
They had a lot of fun, and it gave me a few minutes to rest and get a snack, until they got to the next game.

Monday, May 23, 2016

DIY party games: the punch piñata.

Now that my son's party is over, I can relax to regain strength to clean the mess.
But it was all worth it, the kids had a lot of fun and I made everything at a relatively low cost.
One game that was a big hit, I would never imagine this, was the "punch piñata". This idea was not mine, I copied from Grey House Harbor.
I showed in the post before, but I will repeat it just because I want to make this again in the future.
It was made of a big piece of cardboard with several circles cut in it, a little smaller then the opening of small paper cups. It doesn't need to be very neat because they are all meant to be covered after.
The next step is to cut several pieces of tissue paper into squares, and glue on top of each circle.
After they are all covered, turn to the other side and place a small prize in each circle.
Using paper cups, I used my hot glue gun to cover each circle, to hold the prize inside.
When it was party time, the kids make a line, and one by one punch one circle to collect a prize.
I had no idea the kids would be so excited about this game.
This is something that definitely I will be making in the future, and I highly recommend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Birthday party cardboard style (aka low budget).

To fit a birthday party in a tight budget is always a challenge. This year I did my best to make a small party, with a lot of games, recycling as much as I could, making at home and spending the least amount possible.
My son wanted to include Minecraft theme into the party, and he suggested a game of nose in the pig. I had a board for the old science project, that I wrapped in leftover Christmas paper, with the white part on the outside. I painted the scene with all types of paint I had available: watercolor, acrylic, fabric paint and Sharpies. Then I made a few pig noses, with double sided tape for the game.
I had another trifold board from a school project, that was also covered, painted and with a hole, so the kids can play bean bag toss, and also take a picture with their face on it.
Sticking to the theme, I also filled some old juice bottles with water and food coloring, covered with some printed characters from Family Shopping Bag. This way I could make a bowling game.
I was lucky enough to go to the store when they were throwing away their boxes. They let me take them, so the kids can use to make a fort, a wall, and destroy it.
I used some boxes to to make a tunnel for them.
Trying to make it a little more colorful, I painted some characters they like.
I couldn't figure out anymore Minecraft related games, so I started making what it looked easy to make. Using pool noodles from the Dollar Store, I glued to a piece of cardborad, so the kids can go under.
I also found these balloons that look like worms, and I hang them in a piece of cardboard tube (the one that goes inside wrapping paper). The tube was covered with the pages of an old sticker book (it is Angry Birds, but I think the kids won't mind).
I figured they can run in between the balloons.
The other games I made using these interesting boxes I found at BJ's. They looked like I could do something with them.
First I glued a bunch of Legos and old toys, and I was going to use marbles to roll through the box. But I found this little monster with a ball under, so it can roll.
So I made the monster roll though the box.
On the other box, I made some aliens, and craters around their planet. So using a lot of marbles, they have to fall in the holes as quickly as they can. There is another box underneath, to catch the marbles.
The last game I made a farm, and a little tractor that is attached to metal clips, so using a magnet underneath, the tractor can move and the farmer can do his chores.
And one game that I found on my research on the internet, called a "punch in pinata". First I cut a lot of holes in a foam board that I found also at the Dollar Store.
Each hole is covered with tissue paper.
On the other side, a little prize is placed on top of each paper.
Then each one has a paper cup on top, glued with hot glue.
This way each child can punch a hole in every paper, and collect a prize.
Hopefully they don't finish playing with everything in fifteen minutes, like it happened in the past, and get entertained before getting their snacks and cake. Which is a hole another story...