Saturday, August 15, 2015

Make your own paintbrush roll

This is a project I've had on my to-do list for a long while. I've even had the perfect fabric sitting around since I used it to make a strap cover for my DSLR camera.

Now, here it goes! Bear with me on the instructions since I'm not a pro at making tutorials.

It always starts with supplies. I recommend finding some remnants at your local craft store, I really like Jo-Ann Fabrics since they seem to have the best selection of fabrics. I go every week or so just to check out the remnant bins since most of my plush and fabric creations only need small amounts of fabric. Remnants are super cheap while still being good quality.

I did not use a pattern for this, but you basically need a rectangle of fabric. You can adjust this to fit however many paintbrushes, pens, crayons, pencils, tools, etc., as you want. I ended up with slots for 9 paintbrushes, which I plan on using as my VIP ceramics brushes (i.e. the ones I use the most). Lay out your tools that you want to end up in the roll about an inch apart to give you a good idea of how wide you need the fabric to be.

You want to start with your remnant and lay it out. Ignore the fact that I was lazy and didn't iron it. Mine was an odd shape from what I'd already used, so I cut off the extra to give it straight sides:

All you really need is one long piece, but since I didn't have a single piece long enough, I laid a smaller square on top of the larger piece so the paintbrushes will lay on top of the fabric instead of the backside of the fabric. The bottom fabric section in the first picture is actually the bottom of the larger piece that has been folded up over the smaller piece. After that, I started pinning the part that will end up holding the paintbrushes to give it a finished edge that won't fray. I use a standard stitch on my sewing machine. You can definitely change it up if you want to get fancy.  You can also choose to use two different fabrics so the inside is another design or pattern.

 As you can see, you do not need the project to be completely covered by the right side of the fabric since you will be folding over and sewing the pocket the paintbrushes will be tucked into. Try to keep your pinning as straight as you can if you'd like the pockets to be the same height. If you're trying to accommodate a variety of different shapes and sizes of tools, you can actually sew an angled seam so that you can store both tall and short utensils. I wanted mine to be slightly shorter on the left and taller on the right (you'll be able to see in the end result).

 When you line up the machine, keep the seam line a consistent distance from the edge of the fabric. Remove the pins as they get closer to the sewing foot. You can definitely sew by hand if you do not have a sewing machine. I recommend measuring and marking where you want to sew with a pencil or chalk when hand sewing a straight seam.

I made mine with a double seam.

Which ended up looking like this:

Next, you want to pin around the sides where the fabrics end. If you make it with a longer piece that folds over, you won't have to sew as many sides. My pieces were separate, so I had to sew along all the sides.

The end result should leave a pocket that you'll be turning rightside out. (But not yet.)

Next, I wanted to make sure the edges look finished on the part that gets folded over to hold the brushes.

Fold it over along the sides to line it up with the bigger piece and pin it all the way around so the edges line up.

I like doing this because it will make the edges look nicer.

Turn it inside out so that the pattern of the fabric is facing the right way. I wanted to finish the edges with another stitching line, so I went over it again with my sewing machine.

The next step is to fold the edge over so that it will be tall enough to hold all of your items, brushes, pencils, whatever.

Line up the length.

Then, pin and sew!

Figure out how wide the individual pockets need to be by inserting the items you want it to hold, then pin in the spots you need a stitch.

Line up the pins with your machine and sew!

Now you've got an awesome paintbrush/utility roll!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Some Pig(s)! (It was written on the Web, get it?)

I still can't believe how quickly it happened. A couple came by my vendor table at a local art show (Big Bang Bazaar in Maitland, FL) and stopped to look at my work. I had all my Star Wars pigs and piggy banks out and after looking at a few of them, the couple asked me if I'd be able to make an Alice in Wonderland piggy bank. It was just the icing on the cake when I found out that I'd be making some piggies for Ashley Eckstein! If you don't know who Ashley is, then you need to look her up. Ashley was working on turning her dining room into the tea party from Disney's Alice in Wonderland and they wanted to give her something special that she could use in that awesome room. (It was all I could do not to fangirl-out right there. I also may have had a goofy grin on my face the rest of the weekend).

Here is the process I use to turn pigs into something special.

 I always start with pencil. It burns off in the kiln and gives you a guide to paint by. It also rubs off very easily and can be changed by wiping the design with your hand or an eraser. I find mechanical pencil works best because it stays the same thickness as it is used instead of getting duller and wider.

Since I was doing a Disney version of the characters, I wanted to include some Mad Tea Party elements in my design without making it too complicated. Of course I had to include the Cheshire Cat, and I knew exactly where he belonged! I used the tail on the biggest pig as his tail to give him a little bit of a 3-D look.

The three characters were the Ecksteins' idea and we decided to make Alice the largest pig, the Mad Hatter in the middle, and the March Hare on top. Plus, it helped add to the surprised look I gave Alice that they were on top of her!

It took between 20-40 hours to draw and paint the pig stack. I lost track somewhere in there. The glaze is a little paler than when it gets fired. It looks a little different than it will when it's out of the kiln.

 I wanted the design to be cute without being too complicated. I added the un-birthday cake, the dormouse in his teapot, and a stack of tea pots and cups on the other side.
One of the hardest things about glazing ceramics is actually choosing the colors. They don't look the same when fired and not all colors are available as glazes. I try to choose the closest colors or improvise a little by mixing a couple of colors if I need if I need a closer match.
 I also included a little surprise underneath!

And the finished product:

As a special bonus, the Ecksteins also wanted me to make a small Ahsoka Tano piggy, since Ashley is the voice of Ahsoka in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I absolutely love her character and the series. She is one of the best female characters in any Sci Fi series. Ahsoka was just as much fun to paint, but took less than 10 hours to finish. Just like the Alice trio, I started her with pencil. Somehow I managed not to get a shot of her before I started painting. Here she is fully painted.
 Again, the colors are different when the glaze is dry, but not fired.
 Her costume was a little tricky to figure out, which I why I used this particular costume design instead of the midriff-baring one you often see in shots from the show.

 And another surprise message on the bottom. :)
 If you are a fan of the show, my little message will make a lot more sense.
And (drum roll please) the finished product:

 I hope you enjoyed this peek into my ceramic making process. These are the kind of pieces I love creating. If you're interested in your own custom piggy or something special, hit up my Etsy shop.