Some Tests on Sticker Materials

Stickers stuck on cardstock

Stickers stuck on cardstock

I did some testing on some sticker materials.   I tested matte paper, clear glossy, and matte paper laminated with clear glossy adhesive laminate. I test them for writability with pen and pencil and with water.

In the photo below, I have tried writing on the stickers with both pen and pencil. 

All of the sticker materials could be written on with pen. 

The pen markings on the matte paper, clear glossy, and clear matte sticker paper were stable when I rubbed over them with my finger. 

The laminated paper however, smeared easily when rubbed.   I would not recommend writing at all on the laminated paper.

The matte paper and clear matte sticker paper were the only ones that could be written on with pencil.  The pencil markings did not smudge when rubbed.

stickers with writing on them

stickers with writing on them

Next I tried rubbing the sticker materials with a damp kleenex.  I also wet the paper the stickers were on right next to each sticker.

The pen and pencil did not run on the matte paper.  The image itself did not run, but there is a slight water stain that remained after the water dried.

The printed images on the clear glossy and clear matte sticker papers completely wiped off where they were rubbed with a damp kleenex.  They are definitely damaged by water.

The damp kleenex did not affect the printed image at all on the laminated paper sticker, although it rubbed off written pen on the surface of the laminate.  I tried wetting the cardstock next to the laminated sticker, and the sticker still was not affected.  The laminated sticker seems to be fairly waterproof.

stickers after rubbing with damp kleenex

stickers after rubbing with damp kleenex

For the last test, I adhered a laminated paper sticker to the lid of a small plastic box and took it to the sink, and ran water over it.  It still looked unaffected. 

Then I rubbed some liquid soap on the box lid and washed it off, rubbing lightly with my hand.  This time I saw water had seeped onto the edges of the matte paper under the laminate.  The paper dried and appeared undamaged, but the sticker image ink bled very slightly around the edges of the sticker.  The laminated paper sticker should not be attached to objects that will be washed.

laminated sticker on plastic box showing water seepage around edges of sticker after hand washing with running water and liquid soap

laminated sticker on plastic box showing water seepage around edges of sticker after hand washing with running water and liquid soap

laminated sticker on plastic box showing paper dried after washing and slight bleeding of image around some of the edges

laminated sticker on plastic box showing paper dried after washing and slight bleeding of image around some of the edges

The sticker testings showed some of the uses the stickers were suitable for and some of the uses that weren't ideal for them.

Trip to SOWA Open Market - Indie Craft Fair and Artisan Foods

We spent a fun Sunday afternoon at Boston's SOWA Open Market. SOWA -- "south of Washington Avenue" -- is a trendy,rejuvenated Boston neighborhood that is home to lofts, galleries, and boutiques. (Note: the square photos in this post were shot with iPhone's Hipstamatic app which can make atypical, but fun shots.)


The SOWA Open Market is open on Sundays from May to November. There two parking lots full of vendors. One has artisan foods such as Grillo's, a local company that makes delicious hot or regular Italian-style pickles among other marinated items. There is a vendor With homemade French style macaron cookies in several yummy sounding flavors. There are cheese artisans, a bread company, and fresh herbs and produce.

Walking through an archway and down a walkway lined with shops takes you to another parking lot with craft artists' booths and food trucks. Here we found a vintage map dealer with large local maps that look wonderful framed. There was a craftsman who made cool, funky vases and glass from vintage soda and beer bottles. There were booths with clothing remade from vintage items and several jewelers. We bought a pair of bird print earrings for our daughter.

The food trucks looked interesting and ranged from barbecue to Thai food. The food truck lines were long, so we decided to skip them that day.

The walkway between the two parking lots is dotted with shops. You will find people shopping, walking, eating lunch, and just relaxing.

A bonus Is the indoor flea market with vintage furniture, accessories, and clothing. It is on the block between the two parking lots. I found a sterling mechanical cat charm to take home with me.

Next time time you're spending a summer weekend in Boston, I recommend you check out SOWA Open Market.


Projects Around the House - More DollHouse Work

This is the last summer before my daughter leaves for college.  She will be a freshman at MIT in the fall.  We are a homeschooling family, and I will especially miss times my daughter and I spent working on various projects together. (More about our experience applying to colleges as a homeschooler in an upcoming post.)

This summer my daughter and I are trying to finish our dollhouse.  This is a dollhouse from a Buttercup kit we started on a few years ago and have been slowly working on it together as her time permits. (You can view the original post about the dollhouse here.)  Now the outside is almost finished.

We covered the rectangular and round exterior windows with a thin layer of moss and then covered the moss with small seashells.  We used reindeer moss on the long arched side and front windows, but were undecided about how to finish the outside of the front door -- with a different moss than the adjacent arched windows, with seashells, or with twigs.  After much discussion and trying out different materials, we settled on twigs with a background of the reindeer moss.

Here is our progress on the door so far.  We used an X-acto mitre box and saw kit to cut twigs to the length of the door.  Then we glued them side-by-side over the moss.  The moss covers the bare door so the wood doesn't show between the twigs.  Here are some detail photos of us at work:

We found tiny hinges at A.C. Moore.  The hinges had teeny brass nails that we finally we able to hammer into the wood.  We will remove small sections of the moss on the house where the other part of the hinge will go and then glue back on the moss to cover the hinges.

We are trying to decide on a doorknob for the door.  This is one possibility that we like.

Tutorial - Sophie's Easy European 4 in 1 Chain Mail Bracelet

Please enjoy this guest blogger tutorial by my daughter, Sophie. :-)

Sophie's Easy European 4 in 1 Chain Mail Bracelet Tutorial


I first learned chain mail a few years ago in a class at SPLASH, a yearly event held at M.I.T which lasts three days.  At SPLASH, M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts) students offer hundreds of different classes which they teach to high school students.  The class subjects range from integral calculus to chocolate sculpture to cheese tasting.  This bracelet uses the most basic chain mail pattern: the European 4 in 1.



1.  rings - I used approximately 85 rings (which makes 17 chainlets) size 14 guage, 5/16" inner diameter, in anodized aluminum.   If you use smaller rings, you will need more of them to cover the same distance.  I bought mine from The Ring Lord.  They have a nice variety of metals including steel, aluminum, sterling,  gold, brass,bronze, copper, 12 colors of anodized aluminum and also carry rubber rings.    The site tells the approximate number of rings in a square foot and the approximate number of rings in a pound for the each of the different sizes.  There are other online chainmail supply sources, and jewelry supply and beading suppliers may also carry them.

2. 2 flat-nosed pliers - available at jewelry or beading suppliers.

3. One jewelry clasp set - available at jewelry or beading suppliers.

General techniques:

To open ring:    Use the two pliers to grip near the ends of the ring.  Turn the pliers in opposite directions, twisting one plier towards you and one away from you, to further separate the ends.  DO NOT PULL the ends away from each other; just twist.



To close ring:    Just turn the pliers in the opposite directions until the ends of the ring are flush.




1. Open one ring and close four.  These five rings will make a chainlet, the "building block" of the bracelet.

4 closed rings and 1 open ring for making chainlet

2. Thread the four closed rings onto the open ring, then close the openring.



3. Repeat steps 1-2 over and over until you have the amount of chainlets you  need for your bracelet.

4. Take one chainlet and lay it out flat exactly as shown.  Now we can refer to the center ring, the two top rings, and the two bottom rings.


5. Lay a second chainlet directly under the first.  It must be in the EXACT same orientaton; the center ring crosses under the bottom two rings and over the top two.


6. Open a single ring.  Thread this ring under the bottom two rings of the top chainlet and over the top two rings of the bottom chainlet.  Close the open ring, making sure not to lose any of the rings you just threaded on.  Now there should be three center rings, all threaded the same direction.





7. Keep adding chainlets to one end of your link by repeating steps 5-6, making a longer and longer chain.  Stop when your bracelet is large enough.



8. Open a ring and thread it through the final center ring on one end of the bracelet.  (See photo in Step 9.)

9. Now thread one part of the clasp through the open ring: if the clasp opening is too small, attach the clasp to a split ring, then thread the split ring through the open ring.  Close the ring.


10. Open another ring and thread it through the last center ring on the other end of the bracelet.  Thread the ring through the other part of the clasp, then close.




Your bracelet is now complete and ready to wear!

Projects Around the House - A Doll's House (W.I.P.)


I've always been interested in miniature settings, especially ones that include handmade objects.  I found a dollhouse kit, the Buttercup that looked fairly simple and had an open main floor and attic.  My daughter and I decided to do the dollhouse project together.  It has been a long ongoing project, as we work on it when my daughter has the time available (mainly in the summer).

The pieces of the dollhouse kit are scored into thin wood sheets shaped in the forms of the various walls, roofs, floors, windows, etc.  They have to be carefully detached or the wood splinters.  We used Aleene's® Quick Dry Tacky Glue to attach the pieces and then used long pieces of masking tape as makeshift clamps to hold the pieces together while they dried.  The masking tape worked really well.

The doll house has a bit of a split personality going on as I wanted to try using some natural materials, gravel, shells, twigs and moss and my daughter wants to make a "mad scientist" lab.  We're not as concerned about having a strictly cohesive design, but more interested in using the dollhouse as a laboratory for our various ideas.

My daughter is designing the first floor.  It will have a kitchen/science lab and a living room.  We found a source for miniature glass lab beakers and chemistry items at Ray Storey's website, here.   She made floor tiles from card stock that she painted with a marbled design and then glued to the dollhouse floor.  She colored the rug (a piece of velvet) with fabric markers in a bright modern design.  I'm going to make some twig and shell furniture for the attic which will have a bedroom and bath.  This DvD, "Creating Beautiful Fairy Furniture" by Debbie and Mike Shramer, is wonderful for inspiration and technique for twig furniture.


dollhouse rug close-up

We used tacky glue to add pebbles to the bottom 3 inches of the exterior walls.  Then we covered the outside of the house with a grey gravel we found at the hardware store.   We put the house on it's side, covered the up-facing wall with glue, and then gently poured gravel over it.  We pressed down on the gravel and let it dry.  We did this messy work on a table outside on the deck.  We had to fill in areas where the gravel didn't stick the first time we applied them. My daughter had planned to use little wooden shingles to cover the roof.  But after we did the gravel walls, we decided to use moss  because we liked the way the moss looked with the gravel.  The moss came in sheets and large pieces so went on pretty quickly.

For the exterior windows, we are gluing on bits of moss and then covering them with small shells from a craft store.  We didn't like the decorative plastic pieces for the glass of the windows that came with the kit, so we used them as patterns and cut ours out of clear mylar.  The front door will also be moss and shell-covered, and there will be more shell detailing on the roof.  We have to do some touch up on the attic walls as we painted them before putting them together.  The painting is much easier this way, but the wall joins don't get covered very well.  We still have most of the windows to cover with moss bits and shells.  We are thinking  we will cover the front door with moss and then put shell decoration on it.

dollhouse shell window

We hope to finish our dollhouse next summer (during my daughter's summer break) .  Then comes the  extra fun part of furnishing it.

dollhouse side

A fun read all about dollhouses and miniatures is  "The Dollhouse Blog by S. Mehreen" Her July 2008 archives have posts about a Hogwarts castle and two enchanting fairy houses using natural materials. (Update:  Sumaiya Mehreen's blog has been changed to "My Dream Dollhouse".  You can check it out here.)

Please enjoy this video of exquisite miniature breads, cheese, and deli meats by British artist, Vicky Guile.  She makes these miniatures of polymer clay, and the detail is amazing!

Art - Inspiration from Books and Elsewhere


My childhood copy of Raggedy Ann in the Snow White Castle by Johnny Gruelle, 1946 by the Johnny Gruelle Company

Finding inspiration sometimes seems like an allusive process.  I find inspiration from looking at books, attending art exhibits, visiting flea markets.  I especially love books of patterns such as 1000 Patterns: Design Through the Centuries by Drusilla Cole and find ideas for both 2 and 3 dimensional work from historical patterns.  I also have a passion for children's books.  Vintage children's books, such as those by Johnny Gruelle, have enchanting illustrations.  Sometimes I just leaf through books, then close them and get out a sketchbook. 

I love going to art, natural history, and science museums .    When I go to museums, I take a sketchbook and make quick sketches of details, textures, and shapes that I am especially intrigued by.  Visiting galleries is also a wonderful way to see what other artists are doing. 


Philbrook Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma

 Philbrook Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma


 Miro Museum, Barcelona, Spain

Flea markets are a favorite pastime of mine.  I take a camera and ask vendors if I can photograph their booths.  They are usually very accommodating.  If I come home without any treasures, but have gotten some inspiring photo shots, it is still a successful trip.



 Brimfield - many colors of buckets


 Brimfield - African-artifacts


Brimfield - textiles booth 


Brimfield - prom dress 

Sometimes I just open my sketchbook and start doodling.  I may have an idea in my head as a beginning point - such as "poodle".  I try not to think too much, but just draw.  These doodles may turn into the starting point for a piece. 

I also like to participate in Illustration Friday when I get the chance.  It's a fun challenge to try to develop an illustration to match the weekly theme.  The resulting drawings can give me ideas for new work in a different medium, and I enjoy visiting other artist's blogs to see their illustrations, too. 

There are two blogs that I always find inspirational: "Art for Housewives" and "Ullabenulla". 

In the most recent post from Art for Housewives, the author talks about an interactive project at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  The public is invited to send in photos of pockets they have created.  The photos along with information and name of the artist are included in the museum's database for pockets. 

Ullabenulla shows photos of her work and the work of other artists along with updating what is going on in her studio including classes.  In Ullabenulla's latest post, she shows a series of endearing miniature kitchenware made of acorns.

You can find inspiration in the most unexpected places:  even a hotel bathroom or staircase.


Paris - hotel bath

Paris hotel -  bath 


Paris hotel - staircase


My Japanese Craft Books I - Reconstructing Clothing

ISBN # 978-4-7966-5419-7

ISBN # 978-4-7966-5419-7

I just received another wonderful Japanese craft book in the mail. The aesthetic sensibility of these books in general is so appealing -- clean and beautiful with lovely color schemes. The writing in the books is in Japanese, but there are clear how-to diagrams making the projects fairly easy to follow. Japanese craft books can be found online at , YesAsiaeBay, and now there are several shops on Etsy that also sell them. (On you can use a credit card, but to actually see how much you are spending, the site Universal Currency Converter is very helpful.) and YesAsia both have English shopping options. If you put in an ISBN number in a search, the book page will come up if it is available. For eBay and Etsy, do a search for "Japanese craft books" to find the sellers. Shipping can be expensive because many times they are coming directly from Japan, but YesAsia has free shipping for orders over $39.00

Here are a few of my favorites on reconstructing clothing. The one at the beginning of the post and the one below have examples of new clothing designs created from old clothing, scarves, t-shirts. The ingenuity used in the reconstructions is fun and inspiring. My favorite section is the way the author approached reconstructing sweaters.

ISBN #4-579-11025-0

ISBN #4-579-11025-0

This photo is from the interior of the above book. It shows two versions for wearing the same reconstructed pullover. One is worn upside-down.

Japanese craft book - two versions of reconstructed sweater

The third book shows how to make wonderful stuffed animals from socks and gloves. It has also been translated into an English version, Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softy Friends from Cast-Off Socks and Gloves, which is available here.


ISBN #4-579-11061-7

The original Japanese book can be bought here.

Below is Riina, a red plaid dog I made from a pair of socks. I followed the diagrams in the Japanese version. I made her as a sample for a Renagade Sewing class I was teaching.

Riina -stuffed sock dog

Here is Riina wearing one of my daughter's American Girl doll dresses (one of Addy's dresses).

Riina - stuffed sock dog wearing doll dress

For some more on reconstructing clothing, please see previous post on the  “Renegade Sewing” class I taught to a group of teenage girls.


Kool-Aid Dyeing - A Simple Mohair Dyeing Tutorial

Mohair samples before and after dyeing

Mohair samples before and after dyeing


  1. Mohair - fabric rectangle, cut pattern pieces, or cut and sewn pattern pieces
  2. Kool-Aid
  3. microwave
  4. White vinegar
  5. Water
  6. Casserole or microwave-safe bowl
  7. Wooden spoon
  8. Rubber gloves
  9. Plastic Wrap
  10. Paper towls
  11. Plastic drop cloth - optional

Please note - any containers and utensils used with dyes, even Kool-Aid should not be used for food. Fabrics or yarns may also have chemicals that shouldn't be ingested.


Here are the steps I take to do the dyeing for smallish bears, 10" tall and less.

1. Lay plastic wrap on counter. I also cover floor with plastic drop cloth to protect it from dye.

2. Prepare the mohair:

A. Piece of uncut mohair large enough for all pattern pieces - You can dye enough yardage for your project by laying out the pattern pieces on the mohair, then cutting out a shape that is big enough to incorporate all the pieces.

B. Cut out mohair pattern pieces - You can cut out the individual pieces for the pattern and dye them.

C. Sewn but unstuffed mohair pattern pieces - You can cut out and sew - but don't stuff before dyeing! - the individual pieces for the pattern and then dye them. This will give the seams a little extra darkness which can be nice.

2. Fill a large microwave-safe bowl with hot water. I use a casserole.

3. Put the mohair fabric or cut pattern pieces into the water. Stir with a spoon, and let the mohair sit a few minutes to absorb the water.

4. Take the mohair out of the water and set aside.

5. Open and pour out 1 to 2 pagkages of Kool-Aid into the water-filled bowl. Stir to distribute dye evenly. I am using one package here because I am only dyeing a few small pieces.

6. Add 2 tbs. to 1/4 c. white vinegar. I used 2 tbs. here because I don't have a lot of water. Stir.

7. Put the mohair back into the bowl and stir again.

8. Cover casserole with plastic wrap, leaving a small opening to release any steam. Put bowl into microwave and microwave for 2 minutes.

Here is mohair in Koolaid dye bath after dyeing:

9. Take out a piece and check the color.   Note - I'm wearing rubber gloves for this.

Wool felt dyed in Kool-Aid:

10. If you want a darker color, repeat the cooking for another 2 minutes. Then check mohair again. I repeat this until I get the desired color. Remember, the mohair will dry a little lighter than it looks wet. Some colors are stronger than others, so the first time you dye with a color, it is good to be conservative with the time, checking often so the color doesn't get too dark.

11. When mohair is desired color, remove it from bowl and rinse until water is clear. I then wash gently by hand with dish soap or Woolite.

Washing mohair after dyeing:

12. Cover plastic wrap with paper towels and lay mohair on top to dry.

Photo below shows:   mohair drying on paper towel - The sewn pieces are a deeper shade because they were beige before dyeing. I also microwaved them twice. The cut pieces were white before dyeing.

I found that the wool felt I used took longer than the mohair to absorb the water well, and also took longer to reach the desired shade.

You do not have to start with a white or cream colored mohair. Medium shades will look beautiful over-dyed, too. You can add more than one color of Kool-Aid into the same dye water in order to expand the range of possible colors. You can also dye a color, then overdye with a different color.

Have fun experimenting!