Nesting Post: Pop of Color!

Matt and I just moved to a new apartment that was closer to campus (yay) but in less-than-great condition (boo).

LUCKILY my folks, who are retired living saints that now devote much of their time to help remodel relatives’ homes, flew up from Puerto Rico to deliver us from the previous tenants’ evils of poor upkeep and bad taste.

The most obvious sins were the colors on the walls: a dark, ketchupy red for both the living room and bathroom and a dark, murky navy for the bedroom. My mom actually enjoys painting, so while Matt and I cleaned the heck out of our old apartment to make sure we got every cent of the security deposit back, she made sure the ugly walls were primed and soothed with a nice hue of teal. Zesty without being obnoxious.

The small kitchen had two entrances, one of which was declared unnecessary by my folks. They measured the offending entrance and went to the hardware store to get a wooden panel cut to size. Here’s where I was actually of some use: they left it up to me to paint it. And I was so happy with the results, I’m sharing them with you.

First, a nice coat of bone white:

Always use a drop cloth for all your painting projects, kiddies!

I broke up the 32″-wide panel into 8″ sections by making light pencil marks at each of the short ends. Then I ran lengths of masking tape along the panel from one pencil mark to its partner on the opposite end. Not the most exact method but worked well enough for me! I wanted a herringbone pattern, but the kind that doesn’t match up. It fit my devil-my-care approach to decor. As for the angles of the lines themselves…

Random is key. Random is god.

You know what looks good with teal? A nice, rich burnt orange. I got a small bottle of orange craft paint for 59¢ and, with my 10¢ foam brush, it was enough for one coat on one face of the panel:

You can do more coats, but I liked the streaky look.

I let it dry overnight and the next morning removed the long pieces of tape (which in turn lifted the shorter pieces with it)…

So satisfying.

The original panel was too porous for the masking tape to really get into all the little grooves, hence the rough edges, but wouldn’t you know, not a damn was given.

I mean really, who’s gonna notice?

Just look at that orange and teal together!

Match made in heaven.

This pop of color welcomes me every time I open the front door.

Hope you enjoyed the post and that you’re inspired to add some more bold colors into your life. :)


Linocut: Isis

I feel bad about not having posted in over half a year. I’ve been faithful to my craft(s), just not to documenting the step-by-step.

However: Today I did!

Some time ago I got hooked on printmaking thanks to the lovely Jess of Frosted Treats. What started as a fun little project of gouging rubber erasers to make stamps evolved into full-out linoleum-carving, which I have essentially taught myself to do… so if there are any experienced printmakers out there seeing this, you are not allowed to laugh at my amateur ways.

The tools I used were handy-dandy pencils, erasers, a 5×7 lino block (battleship gray from Blick) and Speedball lino cutters (mostly size 1 for Isis, 2 and 5 to clear the rest of the block).

First I made a sketch that would fit inside the lino block’s dimensions:


There was no need to draw the left arm/wing. For the sake of symmetry, when I traced the sketch onto tracing paper, I just folded the sketch in half, copied the right wing onto the wrong side of the paper (making sure it aligned with her shoulder), then re-drew its “mirror” image on the right side. (I hope that makes sense.)

Next step is placing the traced image face-down onto the block. I taped the paper to the block to keep it from shifting around as I rubbed the image with the back of a spoon. It’s good to use a soft, dark pencil to transfer clear marks.



On the block, I went over the lines again to thicken them and added X’s to remind myself to cut INSIDE the lines, not the lines themselves:


I used the smallest lino cutter to very carefully cut away the areas I wanted to show up white when printing. I ended up only fucking up twice (a record!), but at least it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be salvaged. I used the bigger cutters to gouge out the rest of the block to simulate rays emanating from Isis. I chose to draw her with a solar-disk headdress that is usually associated with a different Egyptian goddess (Hathor) but I preferred it to her usual headdress (a throne… bit silly-looking atop a head), and Isis seems to be portrayed with it sometimes, anyway!

Here’s the block before inking:

Image   I used water-soluble block printing ink (because oil-based is a pain in the butt) and ran a few tests on different types of paper:


Behold my ghetto workshop.

The test prints revealed that there was actually very little to fix… the black area around her needs to be trimmed in areas and a bit of cleaning up around the block’s edges to keep the “rays” from looking “boxed in,” and then we’ll be good to go!



Hope you enjoyed seeing the process!



Halloween 2013: Cerberus

Matt and I were invited to a Heaven & Hell-themed Halloween party. Being the literary nerds that we are, we will be going as the Greek deities Hades and Persephone.

Not that there’s any contest, but I am very competitive, so I started preparing over a month in advance. I knew that the props to these costumes would be the key– the jewel being Hades’s pet: the three-headed dog, Cerberus.

I found a “tutorial” online on how to make a papier mache dog, but it sucked. No pictures of the process and the directions go along the lines of “Get some chicken wire and mold it into the shape of a dog.” Long story short: I kind of made it up as I went, but I tried to document the evolution of the underworld doggie.

Chicken wire from hardware store isn't crazy expensive and quite malleable.

Chicken wire from hardware store isn’t crazy expensive and quite malleable.

I never fancied myself good at anything 3-D, but chicken wire is fairly easy to get a hang of. The only tools you need are wire cutters and pliers to twist and bend the wires to your liking. The heads I made by rolling a length of chicken wire into a tube, using the pliers to twist the sharp cut wires into harmless loops, and kind of “scrunching” it into the shape of a dog head (x3).

It's a bit hard to tell what this is at this point...

Cerbie’s skeleton!

I built the body first and the appendages (legs, tail, heads) were attached by twisting the cut wires into “hooks” that looped into the body.

Papier macheing it up

Turning waste into art! Weekly shoppers and brown paper that was used as excessive package padding made the perfect ingredients for Cerbie!

I purchased some art paste for papier mache (a $4 box made like 15 cups of paste!) and started coating the chicken wire frame with strips of newspaper.

Zee arteest at work

Zee arteest at work.

I learned through trial and error that you need to kind of let the strips “hang” over a side, let it dry and harden to actually give your next layers something to latch onto– there are too many holes in chicken wire for the paper to get properly affixed. Oh well, at least I was prepared for many nights of repeating this process.

Brown paper is the best.

Brown paper is the best. It blends so well!

Once Ceberus was papered all up, it was time to paint. As a dog of the underworld, Cerberus is often portrayed as completely black, but I wanted him to look at least a little like my dog, Evie, and that meant adding some tan and white details. More work, but worth it:

photo 2

The key to awesome Halloween costumes is in the details. Cerbie’s not complete without collars! I made some quick dog ID tags out of salt dough:

1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup water, 2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup water, 2/3 cup flour


I cut out my tags with the center part of a blender lid (the one that pops out) and poked holes with a skewer. I baked them at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half, frequently checking that they weren’t burning.

Some paint, some varnish…


…some thread and ribbon and voilá:

Dog ID tags!

The finishing touch!

Well, there you have it! Hope you enjoyed this post. :)


DIY Stamps

Dragon Fruit Stamp

This dragon fruit is on fire.

It’s all Jess’s fault. For my birthday she got me a stamp-making kit, and now I’m addicted. In no time at all I had used up the rubber block that came in the kit and I had to rush to the craft store and get more.

I won’t post any tutorials yet about stamp making because 1) I’m a novice and 2) there are so many cute ones out there, such as this one:

I can’t wait to move on up to block printing. Why am I such a crafting nerd?

Ginkgo leaves, ginkgo leaves everywhere!


Leaf love!

Lettuce turnip the beet!

Gimmie a beet! :)

Painting Furniture: Ginkgo Leaves Table

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Ginkgo Leaf Table

I can’t stop painting furniture!

Ugh, look at those scratches! Aww, look at that doggie!

In this post I will explain how I saved this banged-up end table from a landfill fate with some craft paint, scraps of cardboard and an Exacto knife.

First, I just did a quick image search for “gingko leaves.” I drew them in the size I desired on scraps of cardboard (these came from a box of soda cans).

ginkgo leaves

They are pretty easy to draw.

Next, the hard part: Cutting out the shapes with the Exacto knife. It takes a lot of patience, but it’s well worth it.

Careful with sharp objects!

Once you cut out the shapes, you then have ginkgo leaf stencils! You can start to paint! I used different shades of yellow and green for my leaves.


I laid down one base coat using the stencil, and then applied a couple of coats of paint to make the leaf more opaque. The good thing about this type of wood laminate furniture is that if you mess up, you can scratch the mistakes off with a fingernail.

After placing the stencils in a random pattern, with some leaves overlapping each other, just seal the deal with a few coats of matte varnish.

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Happy crafting!

-Mariana :)

Handmade Valentine’s Day

I’ve never been too keen on Valentine’s Day, but this year I happen to be sharing it with someone that deserves a great day. So I had to bite back my usual revulsion to anything corny, mushy and sappy and put together a handmade Valentine’s Day. I’m grudgingly admitting that I really got into it.

The first thing was to make the actual valentine. We’re both literary types, so I made him a J.R.R. Tolkien-themed valentine card. Inspired by (this tutorial on how to make a Hobbit door), I made my own Hobbit door using only cardstock paper, coloring pencils, a felt-tip pen and a metallic Sharpie marker:

The road goes ever on and on...

The road goes ever on and on…

[ He said it was the best card he ever received. :) ]

Ambiance is key! On V-Day, he was in class until 7, which gave me ample time to decorate his apartment.



To make the paper heart garland, I followed this super-easy, beautiful tutorial.

The result:

Look at Evie peeking out!

Look at Evie peeking out!

Next, making a meal from scratch. I made a new apron just for the occasion! Now, there are literally hundreds of patterns and tutorials out there on the Interwebs, but I was rushing so I made mine in a couple of hours, completely winging it.

Ruffly hems make me happy

Ruffly hems make me happy

For the dinner, I made chicken pot pie for the first time!

From scratch!

Nothing says “domestic” like a rolling pin!

I had no idea, but he announced he loved chicken pot pie, and loved mine! I used this recipe for my Chicken Pot Pie.

I also made a bubbling, tarty raspberry and blackberry pie. Mmm.

So juicy. Perfect with vanilla ice cream!

So juicy. Perfect with vanilla ice cream!

Here’s the recipe I used: Blackberry & Raspberry Pie.

Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day!


Painting Furniture: Not Your Grandma’s Sewing Table

What it is supposed to look like.

What it is supposed to look like.

     I spent a whole day putting together a sewing table. As it started to take shape, I realized just how drab it really was. I had a grandma’s sewing table. Don’t get me wrong: grandmas are dope, but their sense of decor usually isn’t. I’ll be damned if I don’t personalize everything I own some way or another, so I decided to spruce it up with some craft paint.

Painted handles

Green is a very hip color.

The handles were easy enough. Instead of leaving them a dull black, I applied a few coats of green craft paint and sealed it with matte varnish to keep it from chipping.

Masking tape is essential.

Rub the masking tape so no paint can get under it.

For the panels: After bordering the areas I wanted to paint with masking tape, I laid down a base coat of white acrylic and later two coats of different shades of green paint in an alternating pattern. To top it off, I applied a coat of matte varnish.

Lookin' good!

Looking better already.

Almost done! Doesn’t it look better already? I’m thinking of adding polka dots in different shades of green in that boring space above the painted panels…