Sunday, August 23, 2015

Good Bye, Chicago!

Friday was my last day in Chicago and my parents decided to celebrate it by going to my all-time favorite place with me, The Art Institute of Chicago. I'm sorry that this post is so delayed, but I've just been super hectic getting ready for college and moving into my dorm, etc. this week.

This is going to be a super image heavy post, so if you're not really interested in pictures of me with some of my favorite works of art, this post may not be for you. 

You may notice that I'm carrying around a small, plush ear of corn and that's a school tradition. The corn's name is Niblet and he's the "younger brother" of our mascot. They sell the plushes in the campus bookstore and encourage you to take them with you when you travel and take pictures with him for social media. I did just that and carried him around for my entire day in the city even though I got multiple weird looks. 

My wonderful grandmother came along with us to the museum since she has a membership too and wanted to get some use out of it. Although, she wasn't too fond of having the corn with us in all of the pictures, and this is the only picture I can find where she's not trying to shove Niblet back into my purse.

And what trip to the art museum would be complete without a super artistic photo of me staring at a painting? Deconstructionist works really interest me and I could stare at them for hours on end. This particular one is of Paris as you can see from the bits and pieces of the Eiffel Tower. Although if we're just basing it on the Eiffel Tower pieces, it could have been of Las Vegas...

You may have noticed my great love for surrealist works of art at this point in the post. René Magritte is one of my all time favorite artists and it was so nice to be at the museum on a day where it wasn't too crowded and I could get up right next to the paintings for photos.

After the museum, we visited the bean in Millennium Park which is formally known as "Cloudgate". We met some really funny guy at the crosswalk who was selling Streetwise magazines to benefit the homeless and then we ran into him again on the way home. Between him, the museum and the amazing macaroni and cheese with bacon and scallions I had in the museum cafe, I would say that it was a pretty fantastic send off!

Monday, August 17, 2015

DIY Try: Wooden Letter Wall Art

I wanted to make some really cute monogram letters for my roommate and I to decorate our new living space. Since my name is Katelyn and her's is Amie, I bought a K, an ampersand and an A. They didn't have a K in the larger white letters and they didn't have an ampersand in the black letters, so I decided to mix and match a bit. This project is a play on the typical monogram letters that you see everywhere nowadays. (I admit to owning my own monogram necklace) Those monograms are so generic and don't really showcase what makes you unique, so I decided to display my personality by designing my own wooden wall art monogram letters. They're not huge, so they could be hung on our dorm room door, but they also stand up on their own, so maybe I'll set them on our bookshelves.
Wooden Letter Wall Art Image of Original Letters

  • Wooden Letters (I used 7" letters that I found at my local Michael's Craft Store)
  • Sandpaper (I used 120 grit for a fine finish)
  • Acrylic Craft Paint or Spray Paint In Your Desired Color
  • Scrapbook Paper and other Embellishments
  • Matte Medium (Modpodge could be used in place of this)
  • Paint Brushes (I also used a foam brush in this project) 
  • Ballpoint Pen or a Pencil
  • Scissors (I recommend using a pair of scissors that you know can cut detailed shapes)
  • Newspaper (To provide a surface for painting and drying) 
  • Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks (I used tacky glue in my project but believe that hot glue would adhere better to the surface)
  • Smock or Apron (It's going to get a little messy!)

So, I began by sanding off the top layer of paint on the letters so that when I repainted them, the paint wouldn't get all splotchy on the glossy surface. I used a 120 grit sandpaper which gave the letters an even surface and successfully removed the majority of the paint. I wasn't able to sand the edges of the letters because of the odd shapes that some of them formed, so I needed to put some extra layers of paint on the edges when painting them.
Once I had sanded off the top layer of paint from my wooden letters and cleaned up the huge pile of dust that had accumulated during this, the letters were ready to be decorated. I began with painting my ampersand with a layer of Craft Smart orchid craft acrylic paint. Craft acrylic is pre-mixed with thinner, so it is ready to be used directly from the bottle. 

The paint dried kinda streaky, so I did about three different layers of paint on the top of my ampersand. I made sure to do each layer of paint in a different direction so that when it dried, my brushstrokes wouldn't be visible.

As you can see in the image on the left, the paint shows the direction of my brushstrokes, but in the right image when the paint has dried, there are no evident brushstrokes. After the top and sides were painted and dried, I took my ampersand outside to the patio for spray painting. You want to make sure you have good ventilation when spray painting because the fumes aren't meant to be inhaled or breathed continuously. 

I used a purple glitter spray paint that I picked up at Michael's Arts and Crafts. The paint probably should have been sprayed from farther away to give it a more even color, but I didn't want to accidentally get spray paint on my parent's nice patio table and I didn't have any newspaper to make a drop cloth. I ended up using paper towel as a drop cloth, but the paint started to seep through and I had to quickly transition my project to the ground for drying. 

I waited a while for this to dry out in the sunlight, but probably should have left it out there for a little bit longer because it was still kind of sticky after sitting out there for only two hours. I don't think the spray paint has any color to it, just glitter. 

I had a whole lot of rhinestones left over from when I decorated my powderpuff football jersey. Did you know that you can actually get a one pound container of rhinestones at Hobby Lobby? I don't know why I thought I would need that many rhinestones, but they've lasted me quite a long time and are super fun to play with. Every chance I get when making a craft project, I add rhinestones- partially because I have so many and partially because I love rhinestones.

Next, I began adding the rhinestones to my wooden ampersand beginning at the bottom with the largest rhinestones and then gradually getting smaller as I moved up. I used tacky glue to apply them, but I think that hot glue would do just the same job.

I began with my largest rhinestones and put them along the outsides of the shape. I let these rhinestones dry in place before adding more stones because if you apply too many at the same time without time to dry, they slide around when you try to place stones next to them.

I'm also having my dad drill a small hole in the backs of all of my letters so that they can be hung with a command strip when I get to school.

For my other two wooden letters, I chose to decorate them with a scrapbook paper. I began by sanding these letters down with 120 grit sandpaper and avoided sanding the edges this time because I learned how much of a pain messing with them could be from doing my ampersand. The two letters were black, so I chose to use black and white patterned scrapbook paper for their front faces.

For the K, I picked a black and cream floral pattern that has a semi-glossy surface. For the A, I picked a cream pattern that is fainter but will later be accented. My sister helped me pick the pattern for my roommate's latter because I really don't know what she would like. Once the project was finished, I decided that the cream looked too plain and switched it to the same pattern as the K.

I used a ballpoint pen to trace the outline of my letters onto the scrapbook paper as closely as I could. I tried to trace lightly in case I cut a little sloppily and my pen marks ended up on the finished project. I made sure to utilize the straight edges of my scrapbook paper because it will be a lot easier when I cut the letters out knowing I have some definite straight lines that will match up when I glue the paper to the letter.

I cut the letters out as precisely as I could, trying not to get any of my ballpoint pen markings on the piece that was going to be added to my wooden letter. Because the pen couldn't get exactly to the edge of the shape when I traced, I knew that I would be able to cut slightly to the inside of my outline and it would still fit my letter.

Once I had my letters cut out of my paper, I set all those supplies to the side and replaced them with a foam brush and a jar of matte medium. Matte medium can be bought at most craft stores; the particular jar I used was from Dick Blick. It's very similar to Modpodge but dries without the glossy surface. If you wanted to get a glossy finish and didn't want to use Modpodge, gloss medium would do that for you. Matte medium is a little bit cheaper than buying Modpodge and is useful for many different techniques. (I like to use it when collaging!)

I covered the surface of the letters that I had sanded with a layer of my matte medium. I regret using the foam brush for this because it made the matte medium kind of bubbly from being pressed through the odd material of the brush. If I re-did this project, I would either use spray adhesive to attach the letters initially or use a regular paintbrush.

I applied the scrapbook paper letters starting at one corner and working my way out to make sure that no wrinkles formed underneath. I then put another layer of matte medium on top of the paper  and around the edges of the letter. I used a pretty thick layer of matte medium in this step, so it took a while to dry. After it had dried, I added one more layer just to seal it together.

I broke out my sandpaper again and slightly distressed the edges of the scrapbook paper. This helped get rid of the extra paper that may have been hanging over the edge of the wooden letter and also helped transition the paper onto its surface. You can distress your letters as much as you'd like to give them a shabby chic vibe.Once I distressed my letters, I did one final coat of matte medium and played the waiting game once again. Then, my letters were ready to be decorated!

I then used some of my washi tape to go around the edges of my letters. I used a bright floral pattern for the ampersand and a black and white, vintage printed one for the K and the A. Neither of them was the exact size of the border, but I folded over the edge on the floral tape and it worked out perfectly. The black and white tape was a thinner tape, so I let a black border show on the bottom.

This particular project had a lot of waiting for things to dry, so if you're doing multiple letters at once like I did, I suggest staggering them slightly so that you can work on one while another dries. The great thing about this project is that you can decorate the letters however much you want, and, honestly, the letters look pretty cute before they were decorated.

If you have the time, it would be super cute to spell out a word or a name with these wooden letters and then use them as wall art. I just did the initials because I'm very limited on wall space in my dorm room and I'm not quite sure what my roommate will be bringing decoration wise.

I can't wait for my roommate to see these after all of the hard work that I put into them. I hope that she likes them as much as I do! I'm keeping this as a move-in day surprise and hope to have them up before she gets there. You'll get to see the final result in my official dorm room tour post which will be posted in a little over a week.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Outfit Of The Day: August 15th

My Outfit Of The Day August 15th Pinterest Image

Today was a huge day for graduation parties (I attended two for family friends) and this is what I wore for those. I opted for a simple LBD (little black dress) which is a huge staple in my wardrobe and jazzed it up a bit with some purple accessories because both of the graduates are going to colleges with purple as a school color.

My Outfit of the Day August 15th Full Body ShotThe dress is from one of my all-time favorite online shops, Modcloth. I buy the majority of my clothes from Modcloth and I get tons of compliments. They're my go-to spot for fun, patterned dresses. This particular dress is the 'Midnight Mysteries' dress in black. I got this on sale a while ago and had to sort through all of my order history to find the name of this particular frock. The tailoring is absolutely lovely, especially on the bodice.

The cutout is such a nice detail and isn't too revealing which is complimented by the higher collar of the dress. The back of this dress is an open back at the top, but still wearable with your usual bra. I really like this detail too.

The skirt of the dress may be a little short in the back, but, hey, it covers everything up! This was an error on my end because the website suggested to size up and I stuck with my usual size. One of these days, I'm going to stitch some ruffled fabric onto the hemline just to give it a little more length.

The zipper on this dress has been an issue since day one; once  it gets to the seam that connects the skirt and the bodice, it doesn't seem to want to go up. But, with a little force, it zips fine. I'm just praying that it won't get stuck on me or rip in the process of zipping. Modcloth sells really high quality pieces, so I'm not too concerned about it tearing.

This dress is no longer available, but I highly suggest browsing through Modcloth's other products and you'll find something you'd die to have in a matter of minutes. This is the link where I purchased the dress, and if you're looking for similar items, the website suggests them on this page.

This dress is very true to the picture seen on the website (As Modcloth's dresses always are). I've included the product image here as a comparison.

I accessorized this look with a pair of purple feather earrings that I got at Target a while ago. Target literally has everything you could ever want and more. I'm also wearing my Pandora bracelet which has a purple color scheme to it. In terms of shoes, (Even though they're not shown in the pictures) I went with a black ballet flat. Originally, I was going to wear a pair of heels, but being outside for both of the grad parties and knowing that it was probably going to rain today, I didn't want to sink into the ground.

I didn't have much time this morning to do my hair because I was watching a blogging webinar hosted by the always wonderful Nectar Collective! I left my hair natural and clipped back the front part so it wouldn't keep falling in my eyes. As you can see, I'm in desperate need of a hair cut and the bottom of my hair is still bleached from when I had dyed my tips an orchid color.

I'm considering dying my hair back to the purpley-pink color that it used to be at the bottom. The only issue with having hair colored like that was finding clothing that didn't completely clash with it. This dress, however, would still work out well. I cannot emphasize enough how much every girl needs a collection of little black dresses in her closet. They're super versatile and can be easily accessorized!
My Outfit of the Day August 15th Portrait Shot
This is also the perfect outfit for when you need to look dramatic while eating a slice of pizza. See selfie below for evidence:
My Outfit of the Day August 15th Pizza Pose
Trust me, my phone is full of some terrible selfies that I'm going to have to share with you all in a selfie round-up. I mean, why keep your terrible selfies around if you're not going to share them with people? 
*I am a Modcloth affiliate and while I was not compensated for this particular post and all opinions expressed are my own, I may be compensated for any sales as a result of this in addition to use of their ads*

Friday, August 14, 2015

DIY Try: Washi Tape Pencils

When I look at all these DIY ideas on Pinterest, I always wonder what extent of effort they'll take. I know DIY stands for 'Do It Yourself', but sometimes it seems like you need a degree in crafting to accomplish some of these tutorials. So I tried my hand at the wonderful world of DIYs and started with an easy one: washi tape pencils. I'm thinking about making these DIY attempts a regular feature on my blog, but, I'm going to see how my first one goes before I get too ahead of myself! Tell me in the comments if there are any DIYs you've seen and would like me to try!

Washi tapes are my latest addiction and I happened to pick up a cute, little set up of them at my last visit to Target. For those of you who are new to the crafting world, washi tapes are a semi-transparent paper tape that originated in Japan and come in a wide variety of prints.

I saw this on Pinterest from 'Passion for Savings' and can be found here at this link. This particular idea has been on my to-do list for a while and I've been absolutely dying to try it. I began with all of my tools: a pair of scissors (for cutting my tape in an even line), a pencil sharpener and somewhere to put my sharpening, washi tape and pencils that you've grown tired of.

I had a whole bunch of pencils that I was given the the beginning of school years past that have just accumulated in the bottom of a drawer in my room. I sharpened them so that they would be ready to write with as soon as they were finished. Plain yellow pencils can just be so bland sometimes, but leave it to Pinterest to help me spice things up a bit!
Once my pencils were sharpened, I started by wrapping the top and bottom of the pencil with a single layer of tape. This will make it easier for me to angle the tape when I start on my next step.

Next, I overlapped the tape slightly on the band I had started nearest to the point of the pencil. Then, at an angle, I wrapped up the body of the pencil. This was surprisingly harder to do than expected because you're trying not to cover up the other wraps of tape you've done so that the pattern still shows but at the same time. The tape doesn't sit flat against the pencil when you're wrapping at an angle, so there's some areas where there's a bit of extra tape. (It's very hard to explain this; I apologize) Once I had finished wrapping the pencil, I pressed around all of the tape so that there wouldn't be any more tape bubbles that had formed in the wrapping process.

The tape bubbles being pressed out formed some wrinkles around the sides of the pencils, making them look kinda lumpy. I assume that as I write with them, they'll form to the pencils a bit more. These aren't the kind of imperfections that you see in the Pinterest images! 

A major question I had when starting this project was: "Can I sharpen my pencils after they're covered in tape?" and the answer is "No". I tried to sharpen one of my pencils again once I had wrapped it, and it just tore up the tape around the top of the pencil. My suggestion to fix this would be to wrap the tape in bands like we did at the top and bottom of the pencil in the first step and then continue to wrap the entire pencil in bands. That way, when you need to sharpen the pencil, you can just peel off the next band of tape and sharpen down to where the washi tape starts again. Washi tape is great like that; it's removable when it needs to be and permanent when it needs to be. 
Stay tuned as I mess up other Pinterest tutorials even though I claim to be an art student. I'm thinking of a new blog description now, "Constantly Katelyn: Please Don't Kick Me Out of Art School Because I Can't Follow A Pinterest Tutorial To Save My Life". That might be a little too long of a description, I think I'll just stick to what I have now.