Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Website at Cassandmerlune.com!!!

Please note - if all goes well, you will automatically be redirected and can find all previous posts at this new address.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DIY Apothecary Jar: not for the OCD

What does that basket even say?  I don't know, but I must have it.
Before I begin, I must admit I have a soft spot in my heart for vintage products with writing on them.  A plain basket?  Eh.  A basket that has faded paint spelling out "Boothbay Harbor Oysters, 1875"?  Oh my God I want it.  I don't really know the psychology behind it, I guess once there's a story on it, it just becomes a mystery how this basket wound up in front of me, waiting for me to adopt it. Also, there is a > potential for ghosts.  I was lucky enough to nab this vintage marble apothecary jar at an antique shop, however, all the writing had faded off and the only part left was the chipped gold rim.
At least I think it is marble.  It's probably marble right?
I was a bit bummed it didn't have remnants of "Ess. of En.Daffo: fils" or some other incomprehensible writing for a remedy that probably was relatively ineffective back in the day, but the owner assured me that it would be WAY more expensive if it did.  So that's when I started drumming my fingers with an evil grin, a la Monty:
I could MAKE the writing!  Yes.  Except I didn't really want to, because I'm lazy.  So I came home, looked up images of fun apothecary labels, and printed out a few.

I was inspired by these jars
So I started cutting them and sticking them on, but none of them looked perfect to me.

Mind you, they didn't look bad, and actually now that I'm looking at them again I might like some of them better, but at the time, I hated them all and wanted nothing to do with them.  I'm fickle like that.  I actually threw them in the air in a fit of rage.  But so, there is nothing like failure to motivate a person, so I decided to make my own.

I found a thin sharpie, because paint wasn't gonna happen.  I decided to model it after the third one down in style.  I figured this would go in the bathroom to hold cotton balls and the like, and I wanted it to have a fresh feeling, so I decided to write "Tinct. Mentha Piperita," but there is a whole slew of delightful essences and ointments one can choose from if you so desire.  The writing part is a bit hard, but keep in mind that imperfections help make it look authentic.  I actually tried to make the spacing a bit different and some lines thicker than others.
My first go at it, I bunged it up and wrote TINT.  Then I was like, no worries, this will come off.  And then it DIDN'T come off and I freaked out, and then I tried nail polish remover and it worked.  When in doubt, always try nail polish remover, that stuff will eat through anything.
So this was my first pass at it.  What is that in the bottom corner, you say?  Why, it is old-timey apothecary measurements!

You can find the website here.
You can use drams or scruples or whatever sounds weirdest/looks coolest.  Mine actually is "A scruple thus," and I have no idea what that means, but (so sorry) frankly my dear, I don't give a dram. (So so sorry, I had to, you see?)

After the first pass, I went over it again with the pen to make it look a solid black, and once that dried, I did what I always do, which is do my best to ruin it.  In this case, I wanted it to match the chipped, faded gold rim, so I took a paper towel, dipped it in nail polish remover, and kind of dapped and swiped at it, especially around the writing that I had bunged up (the piperita part).  I found it worked best to lightly wet it and then chip at it with my nail.  After that, I went around everything with a q-tip to get the smudges off,  I wanted you chipped, not smeared, goddam you.  But really, my goal was to make it look worn with time and use.  It came out pretty well, but still has a few smears I can't reach that will haunt my dreams.

Les voila.
After that, it is just a coat of sealant and we are done!  Not perfect, but I much prefer it to the blank jar, and it will look perfectly lovely displaying my tampons. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Man these fairies are difficult

My pride and joy.

As you know from this post, I am venturing into the world of fairy houses.  Since this is my first time, I have been experimenting with some ideas and failing at quite a few of them, which has been incredibly frustrating. I've found that it helps if I envision a pissed off little fairy bossing me around, at which point I obviously sass back, and this turns into a full blown confrontation and the only benefactor of this is my cat, who no longer has to deal with me yammering away at him all day.

Anyhoo, progress is moving along on the fairy houses, and I no longer feel like throwing them at the wall.  Not to brag or anything, but I think the boy fairy house (above) is looking somewhat decent.  Last I checked in, the house was a cream colored mess and kinda lumpy.  I decided to smooth over some bumps and add texture with some papier mache:
I kinda mashed it around with my finger to make it look like tree bark, and to my shock and wonder, this actually kinda worked.
Then I needed to stain it to look like wood, and I decided on a nice caramel color to contrast with the darker wood door and window frames, which was a terrible idea, because the entire house looked like ass.
Here's where I wanted to throw it at the wall.
But then I found a darker mahogany stain, and I swear I hear birds chirping when I took my first stroke because it was so damn perfect.  I was also outside, which could be the cause for the chirping, but I still refuse to believe that I'm not secretly Snow White.  From there I sealed it and made a cone-shaped moss ceiling for the main house and turret and forgot to take pictures of the process, and it is so frickin adorable that later on, when the zombies come and everyone is so depressed about everything, I'll reminisce about my very successful fairy house and people will be like, dude, you're supposed to be patrolling the campground and I'll be like, this is not a task I'm suited for, how about if I make you a fairy house?  And then they will be like, get out, and I will get cast into the dangerous outdoors where I am promptly devoured by bears, because they get just as hungry as zombies.

Here are some more of the pics - I just need to decorate the inside (possibly a chimney in the works?) and add some more moss to hang down over the side:

OK, in real life and up close, it really does look like tree bark, but in these picture it doesn't.
And now for my little niece house. It...is not turning out how I envisioned, but all is not lost.  I made one section of it, and decided to embellish it with some clay:

One quick bake, another layer of papier mache, some ombre paint to match the lilies, and then a quick addition of some interior vines:
It kinda looks like a weird Greenman face, which I didn't intend, but I kinda dig it.
Oh, did I mention I made a fairy bed?  I made a fairy bed out of a seashell, floral wire, feathers and an old earring for the headboard and I want a human sized one.
The problem is, I had planned on something a little more intricate, so I made another little hut with a proper door and window, but now I am a bit at a loss for how to arrange them because I am a little bit OCD about arranging in threes, and also I am trying to establish a purpose for the rooms, and also I don't wanna make another because what is it used for?  Her hookah lounge?
Clearly not finished.
My idea is that the main house will be where the fairy cooks, and the Greenman hut is where she sleeps, and maybe putting the main house up on a riser and creating a spiral staircase out of seashells but is that crazy?  It seems crazy.  Like, if you are a little kid, are you like, this fairy is certainly high maintenance.  I don't know, I need to think about it.

On a side note, during this post, I had run out of wine (I had a stressful day, ok?), and I just looked over and it had refilled, so either I had refilled my wine on autopilot whilst thinking about Greenman, who is awesome, or the fairy is trying to make nice with me to get me to build her a hookah lounge.  Well played, fairy, alcoholic bribes are definitely the way to go.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My heart is in Boston...

The beautiful Boston Common
Befriending the locals
I rarely write about serious matters on this site, preferring to broadcast a facade of mediocre wit and self-deprecation, but Boston will always have a special place in my heart. Ever since first visiting, I fell absolutely in love with the charm and history of the city, and the vitality of the people, whether they are swearing and shaking their fist at you for not driving aggressively enough or graciously helping you find your way around an unknown city (true story on both counts).  I had once planned on moving there, and still do, but other circumstances came to fruition that led me on another path.

My heart and thoughts go out to the friends and family of all those killed or injured in the explosions today, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who becomes overwhelmed with emotion upon seeing the aftermath of such a selfish, incomprehensible act.  However, as I speak to one of my best friends who lives in Boston, who is currently having early contractions, it is such a heartfelt reminder that for all the bad there is in the world, there will always be more good.  Two innocent lives were taken away today, and some may find their lives to be changed forever, but new souls will be born, and thousands of other lives may be saved by the vigilance that will ensue following such a devastating act.  For every terrorist, bully, and murderer, there are hundreds, thousands of those who give their lives to shield their students from a gunman, who stop to save a battered and abused dog, who defend someone who cannot defend themselves, or run in to the scene of an explosion to bring people to safety.  And whether it is a small deed of good or a lifetime of greatness, every act shows how strong, resilient, and innately giving humans are by nature.  My faith in humanity does not waver because of a tragedy like this, it only grows stronger.  All my love goes out to Boston right now, and many thanks to those who risked their lives today, and all other days.
The moonlit, warm glow of a great city.

Fairy Houses!!

The fairy door that mysteriously appeared in Golden Gate Park, which has now mysteriously disappeared because the fairy was receiving too much attention and had to move.  Or because some a**hole methhead took it and will be burning in hellfire for all of eternity.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to my lovely sister-in-law about possibly switching my focus over from mobiles to building fairy houses, because let's be honest, fairies are the best, and I would prefer to live the majority of my life suspended in a reality where fairies do exist but will settle for living vicariously through the innocent eyes of an excited young'in.  At that point, it was still in the "I've had a few drinks this is a great idea" phase, but being the ever-supportive sister she is, she promptly commissioned me to make one for my niece and nephew, which is fantastic, but also prompted an "oh crap, I need to learn how to make a fairy house right now" freakout.

I have been brainstorming for awhile, and testing out some ideas, so I figured I would show the process here, and also because my SIL is probably wondering what the f&%* is taking so long.  For my hippie, lovable niece, I thought I would do something involving lilies as a roof, and for my super-smart nephew, something a bit more masculine with branches and moss.

Here is the progress of the flower child house.  I could swear I took some photos of the in progress, but that's why your mother said swearing is wrong, because I didn't.  But basically I made a papier mache house with two windows and a door, and will be adding some vines and other accents, and maybe work on a few other towers to accompany it possibly?

This doesn't look good yet, but it will.  Oh, it will.

And for my nephew, I decided to make the entrance and windows out of branches, and I had the idea to make the entire structure out of branches and clay and would cover the clay with a moss roof and oh my God not a good idea.

Looks promising, right?
Errr...maybe if I just adjust...
Nope.  This is awful and quite possibly the worst thing I have ever done.
So, after that disaster, I decided that fairies would probably not like a branch home anyways because of the drafts.  I kept the idea of wood door and windows and built around it with thick paper and clay.
Fairy window and paper walls
It's a bit of an odd shape, I will admit, but I built up the clay around the bottom to try to make it look a bit more less weird.
Fairy door.
And the pièce de résistance, a tower à la Dumbledore's office.  
Complete with window for a miniature Fawkes.
I baked it, and will be layering papier mache over it to create a more natural texture, then possibly staining it to match the wood.  Still not decided on this as I kinda like the ivory color but I think it would be for the best.  Stay tuned, I will be posting updates as I continue work on these bad boys.


In my last post, I told you all that I was getting a beautiful new blog with a fancy new address, www.cassandmerlune.com.   That is still happening, but not the way I thought it would.  Due to some aesthetic disagreements with Wordpress, I am now looking at Squarespace and Jimdo (Weebly has also been strongly recommended to me by someone with impeccable taste, but my research tells me that it may not be the most SEO friendly one to use.  It does look super easy to use though and has a lot of great features.)  Let me tell you, as someone who is mid-to-low spectrum in terms of being technically inclined, these sites are a godsend.  Do it all, with an e-commerce option (something I am thinking about for the future).  Squarespace has some incredible looking designs as well.  I promise, I'm not being paid to promote these sites, if I was, I would probably prattle on a little bit longer.  Just letting you all know that if you are thinking of starting up a website and feel a bit lost (like I was), these options are worth checking out.  Oh, and my new website is in the works, but is still at least a week or two away, so hang tight.  In the meantime, here is the best cat video you will ever see.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Back but kinda not...

This duck is very annoyed that I did not blog about his transformation yet
After receiving gentle nagging from multiple sources, I feel the need to clarify why I haven't posted in awhile.  It isn't for lack of things to blog about, because I have been on a DIY frenzy, but awhile ago I decided that I should get my own fancy domain name and move my blog over to wordpress if I'm gonna do this for reals, and for some reason decided that I shouldn't post anymore until I do because I figured I would have to manually move everything over and I also didn't want to keep directing traffic to a site I was no longer going to use etc etc.  Joke's on me, because it turns out that moving everything over took like 10 seconds.  Lesson learned.

Anyways, now I am just working on designing a proper site and it is taking a bit longer than expected because it turns out that being a picky bitch is not conducive to quickly and easily designing a website when you don't know how to code.  If you would like to view a site that is under construction and is constantly changing due to the fact that I don't know if I should just fork over money to Elegant Themes, feel free to go to my brand spanking new site, www.cassandmerlune.com.  I will begin posting again shortly, so stay tuned for such riveting posts* as garage sale transformations, DIY fairy houses, and how to adapt when your big toe gets radioactive poisoning and becomes some kind of freak "supertoe" and what kind of material** you should use when making a superhero cape for said toe. 
*One of these posts may or may not be happening.
**Cotton, obviously.  For breathability.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Vintage.

There is nothing like a shopping high to confirm that you really should be cutting up your credit cards/seeking help.  I get all Buddy the Elf when I come home with a shiny new box of things, or more likely, used grocery bag of rusty, tarnished things, which naturally spirals into bank account depression and weeping.  I feel a bit better about not shame-crying over my recent foray into the Portland jungle of Antique stores because all these bad boys are going up on Cass & Merlune, so now you can shame-buy too!
My latest stash.
My favorite thing about shopping for antiques is that you never know what you're going to find.  With the exception of furniture and clothing,  it is highly unlikely that you will find anything remotely useful or practical, so you can go in there with the full knowledge that you will come out with something you have never known you wanted and absolutely do not need, like a Ship Telegraph lamp. True story.
This is not for sale.
Personally, I would use an antique bottle for absolutely every liquid substance if it weren't so entirely breaky, and I am going to have a hard time parting with these:
One is an old IV drip bottle - it actually may have held someone else's bodily fluids.  You can use it to serve bitters to cocktail party patrons, then disgust them all later when you tell them what it is.
 I posted some antique spoons and forks awhile back to see if other people felt the same love for tarnished silverware, and it turns out that according to Pinterest, they totally do.
My very first meme
So the point is, I bought some more, along with a tarnished shell bowl and a meat grinder.

Um, I was considering turning this into a farmhouse vase.  Weird?  I'm doing it anyway.
I found this awesome bottle, which will be getting a paint treatment later on, and a Tagus Copper Egg Coddler.  You can use it to cook eggs if you want a hell of a hassle, but to be honest, I think it would be better to use it as a display piece, especially with Easter coming up.

 A vintage wicker beekeepers bonnet!  Seriously, I would wear this.  But mostly I would display the S%^& out of it on a coat rack.
And lastly, an antique copper kettle that I have had for the past 5 years.  It was a dull tarnished copper, but I decided to patina it and it brought out colors I didn't even know existed on copper.

I will be listing these in my shop in the next day or two so be sure to check back!