I went to Etsy Craft Night for the first time last night.  I had visited the offices in DUMBO, Brooklyn before in a professional capacity (I am starting a nonprofit program to teach sewing, crafts, and business methods in the Arab American community where I live) but to be honest I was just as interested in snooping around the office, seeing all the cool stuff, and talking about crafting.   So I decided to return with needles and crochet hooks in hand to one of the Monday night get-togethers they have, either teaching a specific craft or, like last night, an open crafts night.  I also thought it would be a way to try the old “meet people with common interests” tactic: I tend to be somewhat of an introverted, socially inept hermit who loathes/is incapable of small talk but I could really use some new girlfriends.  Or crafty menfriends.

When I arrived there were 4 tables pretty full of crafters busily creating and nattering away, and one table that was relatively empty.  So I set myself up there.  For company, an older Chinese woman who spoke absolutely no English, and a man who was singing Christmas carols and theme songs to 70s sitcoms (“Come and knock on my door…”) loudly to himself, or asking everyone in the room when their birthday was.  Right.  So this plan is going well.

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Chair (was free) lightly sanded and taped and waiting to be painted white. Eggshell paint ($15, ugh). Sort of à la Jonathan Adler.  What do you think?  It might be a trend that’s on its way out.  But what the hell.

Other project of the day, this very strange leather hanging mirror I got at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market yesterday ($5).  Notice it is missing its lowermost dangly bits.  I’m going to take it with me on my first visit to Etsy Craft Night tonight and do some plastic surgery.  I’m thinking something pendulous.

Sitting in the plane bound from Beirut to Amman.  To my surprise, the sight of the cedar tree emblem on the jet outside the departure lounge made me burst into tears.  Suddenly I was overcome with such a sense of loss mixed with a sort of national pride—for a country I’d only stayed in for 17 days.  I’ve never experienced that sort of feeling even for my own flag.  In the gift shop I’d felt like buying everything in sight to have reminders everywhere I turn at home—oud magnets for the fridge, cedar tree ashtrays for the living room.

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Behold patchwork pillow #1!  I’m super happy with it, though I also learned I really don’t like patchworking and it’s a good thing I’m going for an imperfect handmade look because I can’t seem to manage to get those damn squares to match up.  The top center fabric is from a thrifted sweater that I couldn’t really pull off, the right center is from a dollar store scarf, and the left center is from a silk Indian scarf I wore to a wedding long ago.  The only problem is that the silk is really fragile and I can see it start to fray… should have backed it with interfacing as I thought as I was making it “I should really back this with interfacing so it doesn’t fray…”

The other fabrics were purchased or in my stash (the pink and blue one came from Mom, thanks!) and the center and bottom left were fancy schmancy buys from the City Quilter (by the way, they were very nice and not stuck up like SOME craft store ladies).  Ooh and the background fabric came from a local fabric store here in my neighborhood, which I spotted while at the register buying overpriced elastic thread, having misplaced the stuff I already bought and being fixated on a shirring project, and an underpriced genyoowine vintage buckle, which revealed itself to me as I was squished in an aisle barely big enough for one ample-butted crafter, squatted down with an employee searching through stacks of upholstery piping while she good-naturedly grumbled about her tyrannical boss, who was one of those proprietors who makes you feel like a naughty student while you are shopping, but in a way you are happy because you feel you’re getting some kind of old-fashioned NY service.  So anyway, I saw the green/blue sparkly floral brocade at the counter, which is almost exactly the fabric in the $7 vintage dress I bought last weekend, which I was tempted to cut up for decorating but of course I never would (sacrilege).

It turned out there was a half-yard left, which was exactly what I wanted, and I expected a bit of a discount as it was a bolt end, but didn’t get one.  Looking at it more carefully at home now I see there is red printing “MADE IN JAPAN”, a red seal/stamp impression, and a grimy bit where it was taped to the roll.  I should really become one of those shoppers who inspects everything they buy and berates the shopkeeper for a discount–for some reason I picture an early 60s housewife shaking a disapproving finger at the local butcher.  It’s a skill I have to work on!  (If the red printing were more distinct, it would work into my design scheme really well, but it’s not–it’s just bleh.)

See? *Shakes finger vigorously and belatedly!*

Click for crochay and moar…

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Necessities

Originally uploaded by Hennybee

When you’re starting a new redecoration project, it helps if you buy the major items first that will form the structure of the room. Things like ceramic duck heads (at $3.99 a Salvation Army splurge) and miniature tin Sacred Heart mirrors (50¢ at the most amazing thrift shop out in the country, where I also got a 1950s turquoise-and-kelly-green brocade party dress in perfect condition for $7 and a pristine vintage tablecloth for $3!!) I also picked up the hand-embroidered kitty cat cushion cover, also 50¢ because it was stained and ripped. Most of it came clean in the wash, but I might dye it tangerine. Or not–it’s kind of sweet the way it is.

But this, folks, is the problem with thrift shop/dollar store redecorating. You may go into a shop looking for, say, a flower-print muumuu that you can cut up for patchworks, and find instead a duck head on a plaque (I didn’t even mention the scary yellow eyes. He’s magnificent.).

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A few colorful items in my currently dull living room have been telling me they want company:

A candle from Brooklyn’s Sunset Park Chinatown ($1)

My yarn bag

And this painting I bought in Quito (it’s a copy of a painting by Ecuadorian fantastic realist artist Gustavo Velasco, or so I gather though this is the only page online I can find with information on him, and it is signed “J. Rafael”) which I love but a certain SO finds in questionable taste.

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Hi guys, well I’ve been meaning to blog for a while now and while I plan to talk about other things that more or less frivolous than home decorating, it seems a good place to start!

I’ve been in this apartment for a little over 3 years now, since I was separated and had to leave my beloved Craftsman bungalow with its big backyard, towering Pin Oak and graceful American Elm.  The interior was full of woodwork lovingly crafted by the original owner, and lent itself easily to a vintage decorating style.  It was a heartache to leave the space–on the last day, I secretly kissed the mahogany woodwork, rounded and smoothed by years of use, in the precious little butler’s pantry (that was almost certainly ripped out by the new owners to make room for a ‘proper’ modern kitchen).

When I moved into this apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I purposefully threw away, gave away, or put into storage anything that I associated with my old life, the habits I’d formed in my suburban young adulthood, things that I loved but didn’t want to dwell on.  I got rid of most of my vintage clothing and my art supplies, carefully packed away my favorite decorative items and most of my 1000+ books, and moved in with just the bare essentials and three books: Writings and Drawings by Bob Dylan, Ray Bradbury’s Death is a Lonely Business, and my favorite childhood book, Over and Over.

It wasn’t that any of the hobbies or things I’d acquired during my marriage were necessarily bad, it was just that I wanted to zero out everything, not rely on routine or habit, start with nothing and see what returned to me, what didn’t, and what new things would gather, like a local yeast in the air invisibly working to raise your sourdough starter, to lend its own particular flavor.  I didn’t want to be stuck in the past: neither my own past or the throwback world of purist vintage decor and fashion.  I traveled less than 30 miles from my idyllic suburban village to Brooklyn, but it was also a journey in time–into the present, from the 20th to the 21st century.

Dreadful “before” picture and more after the jump!

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