As you know, my calligraphy hobby is turning into a full-on obsession. I started off first using brush pens and markers, which are so much fun. But my favorite calligraphers are old-school and use dip pens, so I wanted to try it. I had a rocky start, but with practice, I’ve gotten better at finding the right amount of pressure and ink flow!
Weirdly enough, I’ve found that writing on agate is so much easier than writing on paper. The nibs are so sharp that they tend to tear and stick on paper. But on these smooth glass surfaces, they just glide.
These are place cards I’m making for Austin’s sister’s wedding, which is in April. She got an assorted set of 200 agate slices. The ladies are getting Ph. Martin Silver ink, the guys are getting copper plate gold.
Last year I got my mom into succulents. It was as easy as signing us up for a holiday succulent wreath workshop at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City. That was last December, more than a year ago, and my mom’s succulents from that workshop are still alive! (Mine died probably a month after the class.)
Mom and I went to another succulent workshop this past weekend, this time at the Will Rogers Gardens in Oklahoma City. It has a gorgeous greenhouse that garden staff use to host classes – when it’s not being used for weddings!
This workshop was called the “Heart-y Succulent Wreath Workshop” and only cost $40 per person. In our experience, we’ve found that classes run by city or county parks are much cheaper than classes put on by private nurseries and stores. The materials are just as good. Actually, in this case, Mom said she enjoyed this workshop more, because she liked the quality of the wreath better.
The Will Rogers Gardens’ naturalist and horticulturalist who taught the workshop said they bought the heart-shaped wreaths from Topiary Art Works in Kansas. The wreaths were filled with sphagnum moss, which succulents love. They were soaked in water and ready for planting when we arrived to the workshop.
We were given about 14-15 succulents to work with, all from the Sempervivum family – also known as “hen and chicks.” They’re some of the heartiest succulents, and can even withstand the brutal winter weather – but it’s not recommended that you leave them outside until the spring.
Basically, all we had to do was make holes in the moss, and stick our succulents in right where we wanted them. It was an easy class, but a ton of fun.
This would be a simple thing to replicate at home – it’s just a matter of getting all the materials you need: a wire-formed wreath, a bunch of sphagnum moss, and several dozen succulents.
Care for the wreath is pretty simple, too: keep indoors during the winter, somewhere with at least six hours of indirect sunlight. In the spring and summer, keep it out of full, direct sunlight. To water, simply soak the entire wreath in a sink full of water for about 15 to 20 minutes every three to four weeks.
Mine’s on the left, Mom’s is on the right – she says she’s going to put a ribbon bow on the top left, so she left it bare
If you’re curious about the other plants in the shot, they’re called Cuban Oregano. The Will Rogers Gardens’ horticulturalist said they had too many, more than he knew what to do with, so we got some for free! They smell amazing. But no, they’re not succulents.
Austin’s mom’s birthday is coming up, and while she’s relatively easy to shop for, we wanted to do something special. Austin suggested buying her power tools (WHAT) and I promptly shut that idea down.
I have been wanting to experiment with calligraphy on different media, so I suggested doing some custom work for her. I came up with the idea of writing the fruits of the spirit on some agate-slice coasters. We found these beautiful blue coasters on Amazon. At $60 for six coasters, they’re pretty pricy, but the reviews were excellent and we didn’t want to risk buying a bad product. They were perfect for this project – gold-rimmed and in assorted colors and sizes.
First, I had to check and make sure the metallic brush markers I have were waterproof on glass. Luckily, they are. I use Bianyo Metallic Brush Marker Pens, which have some gorgeous colors and write like a dream. Because there were only six pieces, I couldn’t write all of the fruits of the spirit (also – I had to Google “what are the fruits of the spirit), but we’re pretty pleased with how they turned out. Excited to work with more agate surfaces in the future!
UPDATE: We finally reupholstered the piano bench! Shoutout to my main man and his staple gun, and Hobby Lobby’s clearance fabric section.
ORIGINAL POST: My boyfriend Austin loves surprises. Loves them. Not necessarily getting them, but giving them. Rewind to about a year and a half ago, when he bought a house in midtown Tulsa, and we needed stuff to fill it with. Both he and I had played piano in our childhoods, and he knew we both missed practicing. One day, he surprised me with a piano he’d gotten for free from a friend of a coworker.
Isn’t it beautiful? The Instagram filter helps. I love how beat-the-hell-up this piano looked. There were nicks and scratches all over it, and the legs are loose. Inside the piano bench, someone left their autobiography, typed out in double-spaced 14-point font. No joke. It’s still there and on my reading list.
While I loved the texture, the color of the piano blended in with our hardwood floors — in a really bad yellow-gold kind of way. During one of Austin’s work trips, I painted this bad boy. News flash: it’s just as easy as everyone says.
OK honestly though, we need to talk about how you people act like there is only one god and that god is named Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Well, shut that commandment down real quick because first of all, that stuff is impossible to find. According to the Annie Sloan website, the closest store to me that sells it is in Claremore, a town 45 minutes away from Tulsa. Secondly, it costs a bunch of bitcoins and your first-born for one can.
Surprise: other chalk paints exist and they work just fine. I bought a can of Rustoleum Chalked Paint in Charcoal at Home Depot for less than $40. I used about 2/3 of it.
Some blogs I read said you didn’t even need to sand your piano before painting it. However, I assume those bloggers did not own a piano from the 1720s that has been to hell and back. There were so many chips and nicks on our piano that I was getting splinters just looking at the thing. I definitely felt like I needed to sand every surface (except the back). A few sheets of fine-grain sandpaper worked fine. This part took me and my little arms about an hour.
After sanding, I wiped it down with a wet cloth and let it dry for about 10-15 minutes. THEN — I started painting. I didn’t couldn’t move the piano very much, just pulled it out a few inches from the wall, enough room for me to paint the sides.
I spent about two hours painting the piano on the first night, then let it dry overnight. On the second night, I spent another two hours painting the more intricate parts, like the inside of the fall board (the part that covers the keys and then folds back into the piano when you want to play/see the keys) and the music rack, which has a lot of decorative cut-outs and required some time to go over with a smaller brush. I also went over most of the surfaces with a second coat on the second night. All told, it took about five hours (not counting dry time) to complete.
And behold, it no longer blends in with our floors! [Plz ignore the handheld vacuum thx.]
Next project: reupholstering that fugly bench. #vomitburgundy
so if you can’t tell already, my new job is allowing me a lot more spare time and i’ve largely used that spare time to make crafts. it’s as if the wholesome, creative child in me is awakened after spending four horrible years focusing on death and destruction as my full-time job (i was a news reporter for several years. hello, welcome to my blog).
anyway, Austin’s ten-year high school reunion was this past weekend. he was president of his class of like, 100 people at Victory Christian School, so he planned a get-together at a downtown Tulsa bar.
since this was a small class, there wasn’t a ton of extra spending money in the budget. i volunteered to make the photobooth props – something i’ve never done before, but literally salivated at the thought of getting to do the project.
before Austin could finish saying, “are you sure?” i had already left the house for Hobby Lobby. i spent about $12 on paint, a pack of wooden dowels and an X-acto knife (v helpful), and used the cardboard that came with our canvas prints (read my previous post on #pupart).
i drew the shapes free-hand with a pen, cut them out with the knife, and painted them with generic acrylic paint. it’s best to stick with bright, primary colors, which show up better in flash photos.
it took me about 3-4 hours to make the props, including the photo frame with the VCS letters. side notes: that flag is the new/slightly unofficial Tulsa flag that we love and have hanging outside of our home right now. and if you’re wondering about the “METRO SUCKS” sign, it was Austin’s idea. he says Metro Christian Academy was his high school’s main football rival. i guess little tiny baby private schools have rivals, too… #iwenttopublicschool #amuchbiggerone #notsheltered
were the handmade photobooth props cost-effective? nah. not at all. i just looked up “photobooth props” on Amazon and they have 80-prop packs for like $8, and i spent hours making my measly set of nine props… but it was fun.
Austin has been pitching me the idea of doing “pop art” for our dog Whiskey for a while. i did a few google image searches – and yes, of course it’s a thing. i have just a tiny little teensy bit of Photoshop know-how (thank you, high school) and knew that i should use the Pen tool to cut out Whiskey’s head of another photo. i simply changed the color of that layer, and switched out the background colors to find an assortment we liked. it took only a few minutes, even for a Photoshop beginner like me.
i stumbled on this great website called Easy Canvas Prints, based in Austin, TX, and saw that their 16 x 20 prints (what we ended up purchasing) are only $23 each! compared to CVS Photo ($45 each), Walgreens Photo ($60!!!) and Shutterfly ($80!!!!), Easy Canvas Prints was a steal. in an effort to be a smart shopper, i checked out their reviews on Facebook, which are mostly positive, before taking the plunge. we couldn’t be happier with our new pup art, and Whiskey looks right at home in front of his portraits.