diy

Washi Tape Frames and My Favourite Quotes

WashiIf you saw my post about my apartment here in Korea, I’m sure you noticed that like all apartments, it didn’t come decorated, and that there were blank walls as far as the eye could see. If you didn’t notice, it’s clearly a testament to my highly creative camera angles (ha) because trust me, they were there.

DSC_1998Slowly but surely, I’ve been trying to decorate as best as I can. This is a one-year living situation (that I am 2 months into already – how did that happen again!?) and I can’t paint the walls, so I’ve had to get a bit creative. Challenge accepted!

DSC_1995I was inspired by this washi tape frames project I saw on Pinterest, originally from Design Sponge. I was also inspired by Recite This, a website that takes any quote or phrase and transforms it into a beautiful poster with a design of your choice. So I pulled together a little gallery wall with some of my favourite sentiments, most of them taken from my Pinterest board full of quotes I find inspiring.

DSC_2019This project really doesn’t require a tutorial. All it takes is a little inspiration, a bunch of washi tape, and dash of creativity. I bought my washi tape at Daiso stores in Korea and Japan (the Japanese stuff was much stickier and better for this kind of project!), but you can find coloured and patterned tape at any craft store.

DSC_2013Print off some quotes or rip some beautiful photos out of magazines and you’re ready to go! I just put mine up in an arrangement I liked and tried my best to tape in straight lines. I failed, of course, (case in point: the above photo) but I’m still happy with the results.

washi collageHere’s my wall so far. On the left is a cute fabric flag with an ice cream cone on it I bought in Japan. The turquoise poster is just a flyer that I picked up from a stack of advertisements at the Tokyo Metropolitan building. I don’t know what either of them say, so if I have any readers that speak Japanese, please let me know! There’s also a funny little poster with the line “I’m very font of you because you’re just my type”, because I’m a nerd when it comes to typography.

Then I have a collection of some of the quotes that I love. These quotes are such great reminders of many of my favourite life philosophies and seeing them on my walls always gives me a mental nudge in the right direction.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle / This idea is always a solace to me when I’m getting frustrated about one particular photo, or blog post, or day of the week, or interaction with a loved one. To me, it means you have bad days but a good life. You may hate something that you create but begin to appreciate it from a distance or when you see how it works with other things you’ve made. If you make a mistake you can start over tomorrow. How you live 80% of the time matters more than the other 20%.

“I want to feel my life while I’m in it.” – Meryl Streep / I want to appreciate the special, magic, wonderful moments as they’re happening instead of after the fact, when I’m looking back. I want to be present and fully engaged for the good stuff (and for the bad stuff). I don’t want to feel like I missed the moment. These are the days!

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt / Self-explanatory, but that doesn’t make it any easier to remember. I struggle with comparison every single day. This quote reminds me to get out of my own head and try my best to stop it already with the comparing game.

“The grass is greener where you water it.” – Neil Barringham / A similar sentiment is “Grow where you’re planted.” This one reminds me that life is what you make of it. With a few exceptions, moving to a new physical place isn’t going to solve all your problems – wherever you go, there you are. And even in the cases when a change of place was really necessary for your emotional wellbeing, it’s still up to you to make it your own.  To me it means: make the most of every situation and opportunity. Reach out, grow some roots, do your best. You don’t get another ride on this merry-go-round.

“No matter what the situation, we are very lucky.” – Julie Andrews / I only recently read this quote, but it struck a chord in me. To me, it just screams gratitude. Count your blessings. Appreciate all the good you have in your life. “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” Practicing gratitude instantly gives me a good dose of perspective in every situation.

“This is water.” – David Foster Wallace / I just printed this one off to add to my wall. It’s from a very wise and very wonderful commencement speech that I love very much. In a nutshell, it reminds me to give people the benefit of the doubt, to let go of the feelings that don’t serve me, and to try my best to be a conscious adult. You can watch an amazing version of the whole talk here.

You might notice that the washi tape is peeling on a couple of the posters. One of the kinds I bought wasn’t sticky enough for the texture of the wall, so at some point I’ll probably have to make new frames with the stickier tape or find another solution. For now, though, I love my little art installation – it keeps reminding me to live a better life.

Fingerless Gloves

It’s exam season. My second-to-last undergraduate exam season, ever! I’m stressed out and unmotivated at the same time. I have a lot to do (and it will get done, I’m not worried about that) but it’s the opposite of what I want to be doing right now. I’d much rather be making salted caramels and going ice skating and drinking mulled wine and hanging up sparkly lights. Instead, I’m looking at two weeks of bleak days where I don’t get out of my pyjamas and sit in front of a computer screen for hours. Ugh!

I did a little project last week, while the exam storm was a’brewing. These gloves were super speedy to knit up, and I think they’re adorable. Better still – I’ve actually been wearing them around the house, and even to bed once! Montreal is far too cold to practically wear fingerless gloves outside in the winter, but as indoor handwarmers, they work great. (In fact, I’m wearing them right now.)

I got the pattern from Knit and Bake here. I followed the instructions pretty exactly (even using the right size needles, which is something I have been guilty of not doing in the past) and yet mine still came out larger than hers, both in length and width! I was disappointed, because I’m not sure how to fix that issue. Luckily they’re not too big and I can still wear them! I’ve been trying a lot of projects lately and most of them I’ve pulled out because they were too big. Maybe I don’t pull tight enough! But then, I dislike it when the stitches are too tight on the needle. I think I’d better go see my Grandma and ask her what’s up.

The good news is, I’m getting much better at knitting! I’ve picked up some tricks along the way (another reason those false start projects were not a waste) including how to comfortably knit on double pointed needles, a new way to hold needles so it goes faster, how to “unknit” stitches (so helpful!!), and how to unravel knitting and pick it up again (very risky, but I did it once successfully). I’m so happy to know all this stuff, and I can’t wait to make every project The Purl Bee offers. Check out my DIY inspiration board here for more knitting projects I hope to do!

Okay everyone, let’s hit the ground running this week! I know I sure need to. Have a wonderful week, don’t forget to take study breaks to stress bake (might I suggest these and these?) and laugh with your friends. Buy a crate of clementines too, you’ll thank yourself later.

xo.

Sunburst Painting

Remember that general feeling of malaise I was telling you about? It’s still kicking around, but I’m working really hard to shake it. This weekend, I tried bibimbap for the first time (in an authentic stone bowl, in a tiny Korean restaurant that looked like someone’s wood-panelled basement) and fell in love. I ran a race that made me into a rainbow! I shared a few good bottles of wine with good friends (after finding out that good wine can be bought on the cheap, I’ve been making an effort). I baked cookies at a party. I read my book, and got caught up in its magic, whimsy, and sadness. I had a long shift at work, punctuated by watching that crazy guy jump out of space on a customer’s iPad. I had some nice talks. I found out about an awesome knitting store in the area. And I made this painting.

Practicing gratitude like that always makes me feel a million times better. All of those things, at the time, may not have felt like much – but they truly were all special and it’s nice to recognize that.

This painting was inspired by this photo and this version, though I liked the colour scheme of the first much better than the second. I’m all about bright, happy primary colours after all! I read in the comments on one of those two posts, someone suggesting an off centre midpoint, and I instantly loved the idea. I immediately saw a picture in my head of the way I wanted it to be laid out, and got the stuff later that day. I already had some paint leftover from this project, but I bought some orange and pink to go along with them. The canvas was a 12×14 canvas I got on sale. I used regular painter’s tape, but I had some problems with it. It didn’t like to stick down to the surface of the canvas, so not all of my lines were as clean as I would have liked them to be. Boo!

These projects always seem to be an exercise in patience, calm, and letting go. I always get into a “flow” state, where the time is passing and all I’m thinking about is how to solve the problems that are arising. It’s so calming to see a project take shape, regardless of how frustrating the process might have been. And I am always reminded to let go of the need for perfection. This painting is nowhere near perfect. The lines aren’t all clean, the colours aren’t all exactly what I wanted, some of the painting turned out a little patchy, the center where all the points meet is a bit messy.

But guess what? That’s not the point of this painting. The point is that I needed something fun to do. The point is that it’s bright and cheerful and lightens up my space. The point is it will only be seen from across the room, and from there it looks perfect.

I taped out the triangles one at a time. I mixed paint colours (on a pad of paper) using turquoise, yellow, orange, pink and white. (Creativity was needed, and I was happy about that). I went back and touched up sections. I learned a quarter of the way through to paint much thinner layers of paint, so it dries faster. I also learned to press the tape down very carefully. By the end I think I mastered it!

It fits absolutely perfectly into that space on my wall that looked unfinished. The colours look dull in this photo, because I took the picture late at night, but trust me it is stunning, and brightening up my whole space. Easy, simple, happy.

Happy Monday!

9/10: Heart-Shaped Nail Art

I mean no offence to my other DIY projects, but I think I have to say that this one is my favourite. Probably because it’s simple, bright, graphic, and colourful. It makes me smile each time I look at it. And although it was both the most frustrating and most soothing project to create, overall I did enjoy the process.

The frustration came from trying to hammer these itsy-bitsy little nails into a thin sheet of particle board, and it not working, the wood almost cracking, my thumb almost getting smashed. I now have a couple tiny holes in my desk – oops. The soothing part came from painting – something I haven’t done in far too long. There’s something lovely about trying to get even brush strokes, and it is the perfect activity for while I’m watching a movie (I have issues sitting idle and just watching a movie).

Me, painting while watching Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time!

I took inspiration from Elise’s ampersand nail art, which I love. But I wanted to make a more colourful version for my home! I had some bright pink string leftover from my hanging plant DIY, so when I saw the beautiful turquoise paint at the store, I knew it was perfect. I bought the yellow, not intending to use it on this project. But once I put the nail/string board back into its black frame, I knew it wasn’t quite “me” yet. I had to go ahead and paint the frame yellow! I should have just gotten the unpainted frame at the store, but live and learn I guess. Here’s what it looked like before I decided to paint!

Close, but no cigar.

It took me about three coats to get the yellow dark enough over the black frame. It was great fun while watching other movies and Olympic events!

Let’s talk materials. I got my paint and a frame and board set from my local craft store (Deserres). The frame/board cost about $10, and the paints were $2 each. I got the string from my Dollarama. The nails are gold, and came in a “picture hanging kit” that I also found at Dollarama. It ended up taking me two of these kits to have enough nails to create a good heart-shaped outline.

The heart I cut out of regular printer paper. I sketched a heart, then went around with a ruler and made sure that each point of the heart was an inch apart. Then I cut it out, taped the heart to my dry, painted board and then went to town, working up a sweat nailing those little buggers in.

The next step was to carefully wrap and twist the string around the nails in a way that I liked. This is the most fun part! Let your creativity guide you. Once I was happy, I wrapped and tied off the ends. Slipped it into the frame. Nailed another nail into the wall. Hung it up where I can see it and where it’ll always make me smile. :)

Yippee-kai-yay! I’m thrilled at how it turned out, thrilled that it came into being pretty naturally, thrilled that this is project #9. As I write this, I’m glancing around my room, spotting the DIY’s that I’ve made this year. They really have enriched my space, as well as my creativity. I’m very happy I chose to create this goal for 2012.

This makes 9 DIY projects I’ve created this year. To see the others, click here!

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