Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Art That Blows?

How could Art That Blows possibly be a good thing?  Trust us, it is.  The only thing about it that blows is possibly a few of the brass instruments that have been made into fabulous art to benefit Band of Angels.  Art That Blows is the summer fundraiser for Band of Angels that takes place the second Friday in June every year.
As we’ve mentioned before, Band of Angels is an amazing Kansas City non-profit who collect neglected instruments from the public, clean them up and give them to kids in need who wish to participate in band and orchestra programs.  Some of the donated instruments are beyond repair.  It is these instruments that artists from all over Kansas City use to make stunning pieces to be auctioned off at Art That Blows.  Lamps, sculptures, fountains, jewelry, wall art and much much more is available.
This year we will be donating 30 pieces of jewelry that will be auctioned off.  We are already working on our pieces and thought we’d give you a sneak peek.
Any guesses as to what instruments were used in each piece?  We’d love to hear your guesses.  Just reply to this blog to join in the fun.  If you’d like to use our website as a cheat sheet click here and cruise our Band of Angels Collection.
If you are in the Kansas City area we’d love to see you at Art That Blows this year on Friday June 9th.  If you’d like to see some of the artwork from last years auction click here.  If you have an instrument that is gathering dust at your house you can donate it at any Meyer Music location.
Have a wonderful week!

Thank you to Carolyn from HangUps Jewelry Designs for this post!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Simple Wild Corsages and Boutonnieres

Thank you Tania of Ivory Isis for this beautiful tutorial!
Items Needed:
Spray Adhesive (Loctite, etc.)
E-6000 or Hot Glue
Spray Sealant (Mod Podge, etc.)
Wheat, Lavender, Ferns, or other wild found dried plants
Corsage Pins (Pearl tipped look really nice!)
This idea for this corsage is a rustic look with wild found or foraged items.
You could use any herbs or garden plants that you prefer, but I used wheat, lavender, and some ferns in my pieces.
I first rolled out my burlap piece and assembled all of my wheat pieces, lavender, and fern pieces and then rolled them up in the burlap.
I made sure this was the arrangement I wanted after several tries, and sealed the burlap with the hot glue.  This was actually the hard part, as I had to find a nice arrangement that I wanted!
For the next step, I went outside and made sure I had good ventilation.  I waited to make sure the hot glue had a good seal, and then sprayed the plant pieces with spray adhesive.  The reason for this is because wheat tends to lose pieces, as well as ferns, and lavender is also very brittle when dried.
After about five minutes, I then used a sealant to make sure I wouldn’t lose more pieces!  You could leave this step out if you are using these right away, but this allows you to keep your pieces well into the future.  

The result is some really nice looking corsages and boutonnieres that did not cost much!
Secure them with the pearl tipped pins to lapels or dresses, and go out in style.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Handmade in KC - Hard at Work!

A quick peek at the Facebook pages of our members shows some amazing products ready for purchase - perfect spring pick-me-ups and Mother's Day/Graduation gifts!  There are 22 makers currently in our organization; here are the Accessories and Art categories.  Click on images to go each shop.  If you are curious about the rest, visit our Member Directory.

Ni-Chern Designs/Violet's Bud Collaboration - Flowered Dog Collars

Gypsy Soup - Royals Across Body Pouch

C is 4 Crafty - Zipper Pouches

Gibson Wands - Handmade Wooden Wands

Remnants by RJ - Block Bots

Please visit these and the rest of our shops and support handmade & local!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

DIY: Ruffled Capri Leggings

In preparation for Spring weather, I made a new batch of ruffled capri leggings to stock my space at The Pink Daisy in the West Bottoms.  I've gotten a ton of requests for varying colors and styles, so I thought I would make a quick how-to for those of you who might want to make your own!

1.  Fabric Choice: When making leggings, choose a fabric with good stretch and recovery.  There are plenty of options available from extremely soft Double Brushed Poly to more sturdy workout spandex like supplex. The fabrics I am using here: Black and Ivory - Rayon/Spandex from Joann; Mint is Cotton/Lycra and Blush is rayon/spandex both from

2.  Cut it out:  There are plenty of free leggings patterns online (Patterns4Pirates Peg Legs is free if you join their fb group) or use a favorite pair to trace (add a little for seam allowance, if you go this route).  Just double check that you cut out a right leg and a left leg.

3.  Get Ruffled:  Decide what you want your ruffles to be made of lace, leggings fabric, contrasting color or print.  Cut strips that are at least twice the leg circumference and the length you want. The legs of these pants are 9 inches, so I made my strips 20 inches long.  The black pair has three inch layered ruffles made from the legging fabric and tulle.  The spring collection has 4 inch ruffles made of lace.  I gathered each strip by using a basting stitch on high tension, then adjusting the gathers to make the strip 9 inches long.

4.  Puttin' on the frills: If you are making these for yourself, the quick and easy way to do this would be to start at the bottom ruffle, attaching just near the edge of the pants and moving up from there. The nice thing about working with knits is that finishing edges and hemming is not needed to prevent the fabric from fraying.  

Because I make mine for others and like to make sure all edges are finished,  I do the middle ruffle first, attaching with a zig-zag stretch stitch.  Mess around with the distance between ruffles to find what you like best.   I do the top ruffle next, then I use a serger to attach the bottom ruffle and finish the bottom edge at the same time.  You can see the white gathering thread on some of these; I remove those after the ruffles are attached.

5.  Sew it up:  fold each leg in half, right sides together.  Pin the seam, taking careful to get all the ruffle edges in the seam.  Sew with a serger or stretch stitch.

6.  Make pants:  Turn one leg inside out and stick it inside the other, match up the crotch seam, pin and sew.

7.  Waist band:  So many options here....My favorite is a wide waistband with 2 inch elastic but you can make a yoga style foldover or elastic of other sizes.  On these, I just attached a loop of elastic with the serger and then folded over and stitched down with a stretch stitch.

8.  I like to a satin ribbon bow to the top ruffle.  Heat seal the ends by melting the very edge of the ribbon with a flame.  Use a needle and thread to hand stitch the bow to the pants.

9.  Wear your snazzy pants under a summer dress or with a long tunic!

Not ready to sew your own?  Basic colors with fabric/tulle ruffles are available for order in my Etsy shop; the limited edition spring leggings with lace ruffles are available exclusively at The Pink Daisy in KC West Bottoms beginning this First Friday.

Happy Spring!!

Laura  (Handmade by Lolo Z)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Photo Editing- Using the Healing Tool

Please enjoy another installment of the photography series written by Melanie from Violet's Buds!

Few things are more frustrating than concluding a photo shoot and noticing you had a dust spot on your lens, stray fuzzball on your product, or that the model had a smudge on her face.

Similar to the cloning tool (which you can read about here), the healing tool can be a lifesaver for product photos.  The healing tool works by sampling the surrounding pixels to blend the imperfection away, which is why it will work on textured areas such as skin or hair. 

Please Note: It is never okay to edit out actual blemishes on your product like stains, discolorations, or rips. This tutorial is intended solely to help you remove fuzz, floating dust spots, skin blemishes, or stray fibers that floated into your product photo shoot. You should always use a lint remover on products before photographing items, which reduces the need to edit! 

My friend has allowed me to use her arm as an example to remove blemishes and freckles for this tutorial.

Start by opening your favorite photo editing program. For this tutorial, I used Adobe Photoshop, but both Pixlr and PicMonkey are free editing programs that also have this feature available.

Select the healing tool, which resembles a little bandage. Next, (depending on your program) you may need to define a source point. This is where the editing program will select pixels from. Do so by holding down the ALT key while clicking.

Zoom in on the photo, and begin clicking around to "erase" the blemishes. If necessary, you can change the size and shape of the healing tool brush. Remember, that if you make mistakes you can always go back in the image history or click Edit>Undo (or press CTRL+Z to quickly undo your last step). 

The healing tool can take a little time getting used to, but is a great option to fix minor issues.

Editing Photos
No matter how practiced you at at taking photos, its safe to say that the majority of photos will need some editing. With a well-exposed photo, you can make it pop with a few adjustments.

Here is the image- straight from the camera. The subject is adequately lit, the background nice and smooth, but everything seems flat and dull.

Using your preferred editing software, go into the Curves menu.

Using this tool in RGB mode, you can adjust the brightness and the contrast by moving the shape of the line. Basically, the steeper the line, the higher the contrast. Moving the center curve of the line will change the brightness.

After adjusting in RGB mode, you can then adjust the individual Red, Green, or Blue channels. Starting at the center point, moving it up or down will add or subtract the color of that channel.
I find that its best to adjust in the Red and Blue channels only. 

It can take some getting used to, so give yourself time to experiment. If you mess up, you can always cancel and start over. One great way to see if you have edited too much, is to look away from your screen briefly then glance back. If your first reaction is "woah! that's too red!" then you know you need to make further adjustments.

When are happy with the brightness, contrast, and color of the photo, crop it to the size and shape that will work best for your product listings.

With a few adjustments in the Curves menu, and a square crop, this photo is ready for product listing and to share on social media!

Check out this post for a list of 3 free photo editing programs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Inspirations from Handmade in KC

Spring looked like it was coming early, but mother nature reminded us that it is not quite spring yet. We walk outside and daffodils are blooming, trees have buds starting to emerge, and robins are starting to appear. If you have the winter blues and you are looking for a little bit of sunshine, check-out of few inspirations from Handmade in KC artists!

Spring Accessories
Medium Pinwheel earrings - upcycled gift cards

Catch the wind with up-cycled earrings from X37 Adventures! Be careful that you don't blow away.

BC204 UPCycled Belt Wrist Cuff

Add a little color to your Easter or Spring outfit with an up-cycled cuff from Gypsy Soup. 

Easter or May Day Basket Surprises

Once you are done picking out an accessory to brighten your day, help cheer up the little ones who have become a little stir crazy due to the sudden cold weather! Whether it be a surprise for good behavior, a new friend at Easter or a special May Day basket treat, there are so many handmade options to choose from!

Get ready to take off and ride the winds in a hand-made Chinook helicopter from Creations by M and J!

Hop on over to Kiser Krafts and pick up Kimi bunny or one of her friends!

Crochet City KC

Not for the meek of heart, instead of a bunny, how about the king of the jungle from Crochet City KC for a spring time friend

Add a little bit of rainbows and sunshine to any spring time outfit with colorful pigtail clips from Violet's Buds.

Finding Inspiration In Nature

Spring time is a time of birth and renewal. Take time to enjoy nature and see what inspires you. Maybe it is a splash of color from a budding flower, a inspiration from the birth of new animal, or discovering a new way to up-cycle an every day item to celebrate life; inspirations can be found all around us, if we just take a second to observe and listen!

Thank you Kjrsten from Demeter's Charisma for this week's post!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Are you ready for a side hustle?

Part one: What in the world is a side hustle?

Google side hustle… no really, I'll wait. Or better yet do a search on Pinterest and you will see the crazy amount of information you can get on how to start a side hustle, how to create a passive side hustle, why you should have a  side hustle. Side hustles you can start in winter. Or maybe you are not familiar with the term side hustle. A side hustle is an entrepreneurial endeavor that is in addition to a full-time job.
"A side hustle is a way to make some extra cash that allows you flexibility to pursue what you're most interested in. It can also be your true passion – a chance to delve into fashion, travel or whatever it is you care about the most without quitting your day job."-google definition

The side hustle mindset is becoming more and more common, it’s a way to make money doing the creative passionate work you would ideally be doing. This is in addition to a full-time job, or even multiple part-time jobs, a stay at home mom can have a side hustle, your retired parents could start one.  The side hustle and creative work go hand in hand.
Part two: Is the side hustle worth it?
That's the real question at the heart of this trend. While you will find a plethora of articles telling you success stories and break down a side hustle success into five easy steps, that is not always the case. Part of having a side hustle is that it is done in your free time, so if you value alone time, or you want to go out a do things some of that time is taken up with a side hustle. Your time has to be divided up by work, side hustle, family, fun, chores.  There is also the realization that you might truly love what you are doing with your side hustle and while your full-time job gives you the security of good pay, insurance, retirement, and the many other benefits of working a full-time job. For the creative types, those of us that make and create with our hands the dream is always to create for a living, the reality of that is sometimes it doesn't bring as much as you would like, or you don't have the time you wold like for your passions.  Then there's the mental problem of putting your creative work secondary to your job. when we have the idea that we work so we can create in whatever free time is have left. That can be a draining aspect of having a side hustle, one that might make an artist burn out or lose momentum. 

Part Three: A change in mindset is all it takes.

In a talk with my Avant Garde Professor, We discussed the power of changing the view of I work and create on the side. He mentioned that many artists worked to support themselves while creating their artworks. The main difference was that they had the mindset of ' I create art, and work on the side' This attitude is so important for creative types that have ye to turn their passion into a full-time job. Switching that labels on what is your job and what is your side hustle could be the thing to do, but the thing you love to do be for the thing you have to do.  words and mindsets have power, sometimes all we have to fight burnout is a mindset and attitude. 

If you want to see some local KC ''side hustles'' go check out handmade in KC on their website or the facebook page! and be sure to show the creators some love and go follow them on your favorite social media platform! ( I'm partial to Instagram) 

Love from,

The x37 A-Team!