Woven Planter Update

Hola Everyone!

A couple of months ago I posted a Woven Bead Planter that I had made using plastic fuse beads.  What you might not know is that after I made that first planter and posted it here, I got a teensy bit obsessed, and continued making more and more planters… In fact I may have run out of space on my windowsill. Just maybe. And since I experimented with a bunch of different patterns, I thought you guys might like seeing all my other planters.the3Rsblog_WovenPlanters_03 the3Rsblog_WovenPlanters_02 the3Rsblog_WovenPlanters_01

As you can see, some of the patterns were relatively simple and some were, well, exceedingly more difficult.  One of the most difficult, surprisingly, was my multi-colored camouflage planter, precisely because there was no pattern, but colors had to cut in and out of rows and be somewhat random looking.  So for this pattern I actually drew out the entire thing on graph paper, and with sharpie I marked each row as I wove it into the piece, because otherwise I got WAY too confused.  Especially since the colored pencil colors didn’t match the plastic bead colors.  (For instance brown might be turquoise.)the3Rsblog_Planter_Pattern_Camo

For other patterns I also drew them out on graph paper, but I would only draw a couple of repeats to get a handle on the pattern and then once I got going I was usually able to just keep repeating the same pattern over and over in the weaving.  I started out sketching patterns on the computer, but then found it was just much simpler and faster to sketch out on graph paper, and so I switched techniques.  Here you’ll see the small plaid patterned planter I made (try saying that three times fast!) and you’ll see the plaid pattern sketched out.  However, you might notice that the pattern doesn’t quite match the planter.  That’s because I either figured out the first plaid in my head, or on the computer, but however I did it I don’t have a graph paper sketch for it.  But I do have a graph paper sketch for another planter I’m working on that I haven’t finished yet, which uses a much larger size plastic container as the base, and so I needed to sketch out how the plaid would get extended when it was six rows higher.the3Rsblog_Planter_Pattern_Plaid

As you’ll see, once I got a handle on the simple plaid I decided to try more of an argyle sort of plaid, and I also got excited about trying it in one specific color palette, pink!  What you’ll notice on the top of this pattern is I sketched out what rows I was going to envision being woven together, and created a pattern of White, Light Pink and Medium Pink intersecting.  I then envisioned the rows moving diagonally down in both directions from the starting point at the top.  As those rows intersected I would decide what color had been created.  So for instance if two Light Pink lines were intersecting they would create Medium Pink.  If a Light Pink and a Medium Pink intersected you got a Dark Pink.  And where two Medium Pink lines intersected you got Purple.  And so on, assuming that the White rows were essentially transparent, so they would get overridden by the colored row. (A Medium Pink row and a White row results in Medium Pink, not Light Pink which is what would happen if you were actually mixing paints, for instance.)  Honestly the hardest thing of all was figuring out the 5 colors of colored pencil to use!  Once that was figured out I found the actual pattern pretty intuitive to draw.  As for beading the pattern, well I made myself a little black cutout template thing that looked like a saw-tooth, so I could slide up and isolate the row I was actually beading in case I was getting lost.  I didn’t need to draw over the rows in sharpie this time because it was easy to see where exactly I was because of the strict pattern and the fact that the colors matched.  (My pattern extended further to the left, I just wanted you to see more about how I built the pattern at the beginning.)the3Rsblog_Planter_Pattern_Pink

I hope these have inspired you to try out some bead weaving patterns of your own.  (And I hope you’ve enjoyed the small glimpse into my huge succulent collection!) I actually have another Pinterest project to show you next week, as soon as I can get it photographed.

Ciao, Allison

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Cityscape Drawing Tutorial

When I was in high school one of my favorite classes was art class. I loved everything, but ceramics was my big passion, mainly because I didn’t get caught up with the vision I had in my head. Painting and drawing were always a struggle for me because I would get this clear idea in my head of what it should look like and I could never manage to match reality to my preconceived vision.  But I have to say, teaching lower school has renewed my interest in drawing, because there is nothing I love more than sitting at a very small table with a group of first graders and working on one of their worksheets with them. This spring after a particularly satisfying class drawing diagrams of birds, I decided to start sketching on my own at night as a way to decompress. I began with colored pencil sketches of birds since that is what I had been doing at school.  Here are two of my favorites!the3Rsblog_SparrowDrawing_2 the3Rsblog_WilletDrawing_2

But this post isn’t about birds, as you can clearly see from the subject line, it’s about a cityscape!  But I wanted to share the part about the birds because it was those little sketches that really renewed my passion in drawing as an art form, and made me open to trying out this next project.  A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through Craftgawker and I spotted this amazing cityscape from The Postman’s Knock.  Lindsey Bugbee is an amazing artist and calligrapher who not only does this as a profession, but shares her amazing secrets as tutorials and helpful tips on her blog!  Her tutorial featured a gorgeous cityscape of Atlanta, Georgia, that she made for a wedding client of hers.  And with my background in architecture I was pretty hooked the instant I saw it!  I couldn’t get it out of my head and just knew I had to attempt my own, though I didn’t buy it for a second when Lindsey kept encouraging her readers about how easy it was.  And I was right, this is not a quick and easy project, but I am pretty pleased with the results.

First I had to chose a photo to copy.  I think I struggled with this part most of all, and finally chose two photographs that I took a few years ago in graduate school during an architectural photography class.  One was from the daytime part of the class while the second one was from the night photography portion of the class.  (Night photography totally captured my heart, but that’s a story for a different post…)  Here are the two images I chose to work from.  Why two?  Because the first one I chose (with the Brooklyn Bridge) was a bit too difficult for my first attempt.)the3Rsblog_Cityscape_PhotoInspirations

Lindsey talks about free handing her piece, and recommends having a strong understanding of how to draw things in perspective, using a technique that she doesn’t name specifically but which I learned in school as Two Point Perspective. Basically you have two points on a horizon line, and all of your lines start from the vertical and then trace back to those two points. (She links to a YouTube video in her post, I didn’t watch it but I’m sure it explains it better than I just tried to.)  It’s actually pretty simple and a really fun drawing technique, and as I said, one that I understand very well. But even with that knowledge and my masters degree in architecture, I still really really struggled trying to freehand my drawing.  (Would anyone else have known in the end that I felt I had struggled? Probably not. But given my perfectionist tendencies, plus the fact that architecture is my field, and I’d taken the original photo I was copying, close just wasn’t going to cut it.) So I gave up on the freehand and decided to move on to tracing. I opened the photo on my computer in iPhoto and made it as large as possible. Why iPhoto? Because that way I could edit the photo as I went making the exposure very bright to capture detail in the darker sections, and things like that. Once I had the photo up on my screen I opened my big drawing notebook (about the size of a letter or A4 piece of paper) on top of my computer and taped the outer edge of one sheet on top of the monitor section of my laptop. In retrospect since I was going to eventually tear the sheet out of my notebook anyway I probably should have just torn the sheet out at that point, it might have been easier than using my whole notebook. Oops… The paper that I happened to have was from a sketch pad of 60 lb paper so it was relatively thin and you could pretty easily see the image from the screen through the paper. So I forged ahead with my tracing. I got pretty far with my first drawing before I gave up (for the moment, I may keep working on it in the future) and moved onto my second photo. Here’s where I got with the first one.the3Rsblog_Cityscape_BrooklynBridgeDwg

I then moved onto my second photo which I found much easier because it didn’t have all the finicky little lines of the Brooklyn Bridge to worry about. This view is of one of the piers of the Manhattan Bridge, in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. (For non-New Yorkers, Dumbo stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.  This is one of the piers of that overpass.) It is definitely up there as one of probably my top three night photographs I took, so being an image I was really invested in probably helped. First you need to sketch the entire image in pencil.  I wasn’t sure what to do about the cobblestone street so I vaguely sketched in a few of the stones and figured I’d come back to it later.  Playing with the contrast of the photo in iPhoto was what really helped fill in the underside of the bridge which pretty much just looks black in my original photo but actually had a lot of interesting metalwork. I decided to basically draw my entire scene in pencil before starting in with the ink, though if you read Lindsey’s tutorial it looks like she started with ink when she was mostly done with her scene, but would switch back to pencil to work on small details like all the little windows.  I forgot to document my drawing with just the pencil, but as you’ll see from this series of photos I did take a few process shots as I started adding in the ink lines so you could get a sense of how it came together.the3Rsblog_Cityscape_DrawingStages

I used a set of Micron pens for all the ink work.  I really like how these pens draw, and I also happened to already have a set left over from school.  (Plus I don’t know how to use an ink pen and nibs.) It actually brought back a lot of memories because the pens are in a box with the rest of my drafting stuff and seeing the pencil leads and lead holders really brought me back to four years ago!  Learning to hand draw architectural drawings is no joke, let me tell you.  For instance, did you know you have to spin the lead holder as you draw a line so that you don’t flatten one side of your lead (these leads are about 1/16″ thick, not like mechanical pencil leads).  If you spin as you draw then you are always wearing out the point evenly and you never end up with a line that goes from thin to thick.  Crazy, right?!  But I digress…

As I said, I used a set of Micron pens for the drawing part.  I really loved the thin points, the 01 and 005 pens, for getting all the thin little details.  I didn’t get along as well with the thicker pointed 05 and 08 pens, because I just felt they didn’t get a thick enough line.  In the future I might choose to do the thicker black lines afterwards with a different pen.  Here is my drawing when it was finished.  You’ll notice I left the street in pencil because I still wasn’t sure how I was going to shade it in.  I also wasn’t sure what I was going to do about the buildings in the distance so I left those in pencil too.the3Rsblog_Cityscape_DrawingFinal_Watermark

Now it was time to shade it in! I followed Lindsey’s instructions and used india ink for most of it.  I also purchased a set of the Manga pens she mentioned from Faber-Castell.  They have a set of 8 gray and black pens that I found on Amazon.com which were perfect.  When they arrived I discovered that instead of nicely going from black to gray they actually had two sets of gray, a warm and cold gray.  Personally I would have chosen the cold gray (which has more blue in it) because I greatly prefer that color of gray, but I realized the warm gray (more brown) matched the india ink better so I used the Warm Gray IV 273 and Black only.  This is where I might have chosen to do the thick lines using the Manga Black instead of the Micron, the soft felt tip might have made a nicer/easier thick line than the stiff Micron.  Who knows.  I ended up only using the pens on the metal bridge portion (top left corner) and on the black city buildings in the distance, because I realized that if I tried to shade in large sections of space I would get a very streaky color which I absolutely HATE, plus it would be hard to get the nice shading that I could get with the india ink.  So after a bit of careful marker work I really only used ink for the rest of it.  You can see in these process shots how the ink got layered on.  I mixed a few different strengths of ink and did a lot of painting multiple layers to get darker colors. (One of the downsides of picking a night photo as my inspiration, it was very dark and mysterious looking, something that is harder to capture in a drawing!) You’ll also see a blue border, that is the painters tape I used to tape my paper down onto a sturdy board for painting.  I was worried that my thin paper would curl and warp a lot with the wet ink and it did, but miraculously it flattened back out as soon as it dried.  It’s curling slightly now that I took it off the board but I might just leave it overnight under a book to really flatten it out again.  the3Rsblog_Cityscape_PaintingStages

Overall I’m pretty happy with the final results, and even though the bridge stonework is a lot lighter in color in my drawing than in the original photo I figured I’d just think of this as a daytime rendering instead of a nighttime one.the3Rsblog_Cityscape_PaintingFinal_Watermark

One of my favorite parts is the bit of actual bridge that you can see in the corner, the part I colored in with the Manga markers, so it makes me think that for my next drawing I should focus on smaller details, maybe choosing a cityscape with lots of smaller buildings like Lindsey’s instead of one large focus object.  We’ll see. (I was on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other night and thought that the view of midtown Manhattan from there would be a great focus of a long panorama drawing. Maybe that will be my next attempt…) You’ll also notice I abandoned the cobblestones on the street.  I tried drawing them in after a dark wash of ink, so it was a subtle pattern, but it just wasn’t looking right so I went back over it with a darker wash and now its basically just solid black.

I also remembered to grab a photo of the supplies I used, the india ink was whatever brand my little stationary store had, but everything else was what Lindsey recommended. I also only had one small brush that’s a little angled wedge, but it worked pretty well and the edge was perfect for thin lines. I did pull out a bigger brush for the big sections of the street, very important if you don’t want streaky areas. I augmented the streakiness for the stones, to capture the natural variety, but for the street I wanted a more uniform look.the3Rsblog_Cityscape_Supplies

I hope you have enjoyed this less orthodox post, and if you haven’t done so already I definitely recommend you check out Lindsey’s blog, it is really fabulous!  I can’t wait to try her Faux-Calligraphy tutorial!

Cheers! Allison

P.S. Come back later this week for a fun and very colorful update to a past project.

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My Light on TV!

I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve never been so excited for a TV show about a robot child and an alien baby!  I’m talking, of course, about Halle Berry’s new show “Extant” which premiers this Wednesday at 9pm on CBS.  And why am I so excited about it?  Because decorating her robot son’s bedroom is one of my lights!  A light that you all saw for the very first time right here when I experimented with making my first light out of paperback book pages.  The light this show chose was made out of Road Maps, but it’s the same artichoke design.  Check out these two screen grab’s from the promos that are already online.  (The light is unlit in the back of the image with Halle Berry…)Extant Screengrab 3 Extant Screengrab 2

I am so excited, even if the premise of the show sounds mighty odd.  It’s produced by Steven Spielberg, what did I expect…

I’ll be back next week with some updated designs from one of my past projects, but for now I also wanted to invite any of you who might be interested to sign up for my new business newsletter featuring new product info as well as any exciting happenings in the life of my business, Zipper 8 Lighting.  We probably won’t be sending out newsletter’s all that frequently, maybe twice a year, so don’t worry it shouldn’t become too spammy…  I know it isn’t directly related to this blog, but since you all have been such loyal readers over the last few years and you’ve really been there as my business grew, I thought a few of you might be interested.  Click here to add your email address to our lists.  And thank you!

Cheers, Allison

Note: Check out this great screen capture from the pilot episode!Extant Screengrab 2

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Soda Bottle Jewelry Organizer

Happy Summer Greetings Everyone!

I don’t know where all of you live, but I’m here in sticky muggy New York City and while the evenings are lovely for walks by the river the middle of the day is much more suited for crafting inside with the AC!  And the perfect time to finally finish that project I mentioned a few posts back, these awesome jewelry organizers made from soda bottles!the3Rsblog_SodaBottleJewelryOrganizer_1



The original Pinterest post I spotted was made out of green soda bottles and was much taller, but I wasn’t able to get any threaded rod cut down and didn’t really want to make a 3 foot tall organizer.  So instead I bought 6 inch long bolts, 1/4 inch in diameter with matching nuts and washers.  The project is pretty simple, you just drill a hole in the bottom of a soda bottle and then make sure to put a nut and washer on either side of each soda bottle to keep it in place.  I used a large bottle for the bottom piece to stabilize the whole unit, and then smaller bottles for the upper levels so you can read in more easily.  I left taller sides on my bottles than in the original inspiration image, though I might go back and trim some of the upper levels down a bit, I’m not sure.  the3Rsblog_SodaBottleJewelryOrganizer_3

The part that I didn’t realize would be so hard was drilling the holes in the bottom of the bottles.  Who knew the plastic was so strong!  But then a friend made a good suggestion, use a screw to drill the first hole, because the tip is pointier than a drill bit, so you are trying to drill through less plastic at first.  I ended up making a pilot hole with a skinny screw, then enlarged it with a larger screw, and finally used two different drill bits to enlarge each hole to the 1/4 inch that I needed to fit on my bolts.  I originally tried using a hot glue gun to soften the plastic but I found then the drill bit just pushed the plastic into a long cylinder and that was really hard to cut off.  So then I changed to the other method and that worked much better.  the3Rsblog_SodaBottleJewelryOrganizer_2

I am so excited because I have a ton of little stud earrings (especially multi-colored lego studs that I wear to school all the time) and this is a great way to organize them, along with all the rings I have.  You can even hang longer earrings off of the outer edge of an upper level and keep matching earring and necklace/bracelet sets organized.

I hope you love this new project, it has been lots of fun, plus its really cheap and relatively easy to make!  And it is really helping to organize my jewelry.  (And is a wonderful example of the 3 R’s, Reduce, Reuse, Redecorate!)

Ciao, Allison

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Woven Bead Planter

As promised, I’m back with a fun new project!  However, it’s not actually the project I mentioned in my last post, though it is a fun, colorful, new Pinterest project that I made in the last two weeks, and it does include recycled materials and involve home decor, so I guess it kind of fits the entire description I previously gave.  But, I’m all about honesty here so I wanted to say that I’m still working on the original project I mentioned, which turned out to not be quite as easy as I thought it would be.  Oh well, I’m sure I’ll have something to post soon.  For today I’m here to post my latest exploration in the land of succulents, an adorable little planter featuring a woven plastic bead exterior.


As I said, this is a Pinterest project and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  The original inspiration came from two places, both featuring beautiful plastic Hama (or Perler) bead weaving projects.  The first were these beautiful woven tea candle holders.  They caught my eye first, which lead to me doing some more Pinterest research into Hama bead weaving on its own, which is when I came across these stunning hanging plant pots by Peaches + Keen.  As you can probably tell, I really fell in love with their white planter with the colorful triangles and decided I really wanted to replicate it myself!

For the original Peaches + Keen planters they used a glass insert for planting their succulents, but I know how heavy my mason jar hanging planters are and I wasn’t sure I wanted something that heavy in the end.  So that is when I came up with the idea to use the round plastic containers that Talenti Gelato comes in.  First, if you haven’t tried their gelato it is really really scrumptious.  Second, their containers are super useful for storing things!  I found out pretty early on that they are the perfect diameter to hold the paper circles that I use for my artichoke lights.  And a million other things.  I probably have about 30 of them in my apt storing different things (and no I didn’t necessarily eat all that gelato myself, I think my dad may have saved one or two for me, maybe.  Ok, so maybe I DID eat all that gelato myself, but it was over a few years, or, well, at least ONE year.)  And it turns out, they make an awesome planter too!


Ok, so I want this to be a DIY post so I’ll do my best at some step by step instructions.  First, the bead weaving part.  You basically weave a bracelet/donut and then just slide it onto the outside of your container.  I’ve seen other Pinterest posts where people put them on mason jars, they would also look cute on recycled tin cans to use as pencil cups.  Ooh, I just thought of that, and now I really want to make some pencil cups like that!  Anyway, I get side tracked.  So the bead weaving part.  First, you need the small plastic fuse beads that I know I used a ton of when I was a kid.  It looks like they are sold under two brands, Hama and Perler, though I also saw a bin of them from IKEA in a post somewhere, so you can probably buy any brand.  I purchased some bulk lots of just plain white, and then a big bin of multi-colored.  I think in the tea light blog post the designer used thin elastic, or maybe just thread, which would both work equally well.  Personally, I just used really thin fishing line that I happened to have.  It actually has a bit of stretch which works perfectly for getting the final donut around your object.  Ok, now I’m going to do my best to make a step by step tutorial, but you all know I can be long winded so they might be slightly chunky steps…  I’ll try to keep it simple.

1. Cut a length of your fishing line/thread.  I usually found that a piece about a yard long worked well, it was long enough to last for a number of rows, but not too long to get continually tangled.  It doesn’t really matter how long your piece is, when you reach the end you can just knot a new piece onto the end and continue weaving, the knot will be hidden inside the beads at the end.

2. Take your piece of fishing line and knot one end to your first bead.  I then chose to knot the other end to my needle, because with fishing line its pretty easy to open up single knots and without the knot it would keep sliding out of the needle.  You might skip this step if you use thread.

3. Add an entire row of beads, equal to the final height you want your woven piece to be.  There are varying instructions out there, but I found it much easier to use an EVEN number of beads.  If you want to use an ODD number of beads because that matches your height requirements better, go to the tea candle project and she links to a tutorial that uses an ODD number of beads.  I tried it first and found it trickier, especially with the fishing line, so restarted with an EVEN number, but it’s up to you.  I found my gelato jar was 20 beads high, so I started by adding 20 beads.

4. Add the first bead of your second row.  Now here’s where it gets a bit tricky, you are going to now thread your needle back through the second bead down, skipping over the first bead.  You will keep repeating this until you get to the end of your row.  Add a bead to your thread, skip a bead in the first row, and thread your needle through the next bead. I’ve included a simple little diagram that I hope helps give you the idea.  the3Rsblog_WovenBeadPlanter_Diagram

5. When you get to your third row you’ll notice that half your beads stick out a bit, those are the ones you’re threading through for this step.

**Note: I originally started at a friends house, sitting on the couch with the project in my lap.  That was a BIG mistake.  I found it much MUCH easier when sitting at my desk, so I could keep the beading flat on the desk in front of me.  It just keeps things flat and organized, and makes figuring everything out much easier.  I also found it worked best for keeping my fishing line from getting tangled.  I kept flipping my piece around so I was always threading right to left, and I would only pull my needle through a little bit until I got to the very end, then I would place one hand on the weaving to keep it flat and pull the string carefully through the entire row with the other hand.  This meant the loose fishing line was usually just hanging off my desk in a long loop, until I pulled it through.  This also meant I could use longer pieces of fishing line (as I got better with practice) without it getting tangled.  Start with a shorter piece at first though, until you get the hang of it.

6. Keep weaving, making any pattern that you want, until you have a strip that is long enough to wrap all the way around your container.  You might need to hold it up a few times at the end to figure out how long to make it.

7.  Add your last row of new beads.  This row will need to fit together with your first row, so after you add your last new bead you’ll need your thread to be coming out of the opposite side of the weaving from where you first started.  This is because you are now going to weave together the two ends of your strip, just as you’ve woven together all the other rows just without adding new beads.  Every time you normally would have added a bead, instead thread your needle through one of the beads from the first row.  This may sound tricky in words but it should be really self explanatory when you get to the end.

8. If you used fishing line and you can easily untie your original knot, great!  Untie it and take the two loose ends of your fishing line and carefully knot them together.  If you used thread and can’t get your knot out, no worries.  Simply use the tail of the thread to tie a knot with the loose end you have.  Trim the tails of the thread or fishing line and you can somewhat tuck the knot up into one of those first or last beads to hide it.

the3Rsblog_WovenBeadPlanter_039. You should now have a beaded donut!  Or bracelet, large, chunky bracelet.  Now you’re ready for your planter.  Because I was focused on keeping everything light weight, I had purchased some chunky silicon rock-like things at Michaels to use instead of real rocks at the bottom of my jar.  I think they are used for wedding candles or vases or something. It doesn’t really matter what you use, but it is very important that you put something chunky at the bottom of your container, especially because there’s no hole in the bottom to drain excess water.  This way the water can fill in around the rocks but away from the soil.  Add a good layer at the bottom, 1 inch at least.  This is especially important for succulents because they are part of the cacti family and like to be able to dry out.

10. Now you just need to add your plant.  I purchased a cute little succulent that was in a pot just the exact diameter of my container.  But you can always add extra soil to a smaller plant.  I found it was helpful to do the planting before I added the beading to the outside, just to keep things cleaner.

11. With my Talenti jars I realized that because there was a lip near the top with threading for the cap, when I put my beading around the outside it bulged near the top which I didn’t like.  So I cut a piece of felt that was tall enough to go from the bottom of the jar up to the lip, and long enough to wrap around exactly once.  I used a bit of double stick tape to hold it in place.  This evened out the lower part of my jar and brought the exterior sides flush with the lip.  At the top I found the threaded pieces kept the overall beading pushed out enough that it looked flush.  Which was good because I wasn’t sure I wanted felt up near the top of the jar where it might get wet.  I’m very wary of using materials that could mold or rot anywhere near water.

12. Finally, carefully slide your bead sleeve over the container, from the bottom so you don’t disturb your plant.  And you’re done!  Well, you’re done with what I made.  If you wanted to have your planters hanging like in the inspirational image you’ll need to add string of some sort.  I’m not quite sure the best way to do this, but at some point the string will probably have to wrap under the jar, in order to take the weight of the plant.  The good news is that between the plastic jar, plastic beads, and plastic rocks at the bottom, the whole planter is really light weight so it probably wouldn’t need anything too crazy to get it hung up.

the3Rsblog_WovenBeadPlanter_02Thanks for hanging in there with my slightly long winded tutorial, hopefully all the steps make sense!  If you have questions, or try out your own version, please let me know in the comments section, I always love to see what my readers make!

Have a lovely holiday week, whatever your religious preferences.  I, personally, will be celebrating a relatively secular Bunny day on Sunday, with hopefully at least one piece of chocolate, my favorite part of Easter.

Ciao! Allison

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Photo Shoot

Hi Everyone!

I know it has been a couple of months since I last posted, so I thought I’d just share with everyone why I’ve been absent.  Other than turning (gulp) 30 last month, I’ve also been doing a ton of work on Zipper 8 Lighting over the last month with my wonderful business partner Elizabeth.  We are in the process of making our first big push to consciously grow the business, which includes taking brand new photos of a lot of our products and putting together some new marketing material.  And let me tell you, it may not be the same type of small craft project that I usually post, but it does involve a lot of trial and error and I have learned a ton!  So I thought you all might enjoy a few photos of what we’ve been up to.  First, we went into a professional photography studio to take some big group photographs that we’ve been dreaming of, but which are totally unobtainable in our normal studio space, otherwise known as my living room.  We bought a 9 ft long roll of set paper, and learned all about the standard equipment that a photo studio has, including these super cool poles that are tension clamped between the floor and ceiling to hold cross beams for hanging our set paper, or our lights!  Here’s a photo that I Instagramed while we were in the studio, showing the set up when we were photographing our coffee filter lights, a project you all might remember from the early days of my blog.

Zipper8Lighting Photo Shoot

We had a great time, learned a lot, and captured some amazing photos.  Personally my favorite is the one we took featuring our full collection of Artichoke Lights.  I am giving full credit for the amazing photo shoot styling to Elizabeth who concocted the fun idea when checking out the Spring 2014 windows of Bergdorf Goodman’s here in NYC.

Zipper8Lighting_ArtichokeLightsNow armed with our giant roll of set paper we are thinking through whether we would like to purchase our own photo studio equipment, or at least a set of those amazing floor to ceiling poles!  For now I have the set paper taped to the top of my bookshelf, and life in my apartment is a bit crowded right now, though Basel has been very flexible when he finds his bed and toys relocated every few days.

Thanks for your patience with my busy schedule, and I can promise you that I am currently working on an awesome Pinterest project that is the perfect blend of recycled/repurposed materials and home decor.  Hopefully I can take some photos this weekend if the sun peeks out from behind these persistent clouds, and will have something to post in the next week or two!  For now I hope that Spring has arrived wherever you are, because it is certainly making very VERY slow progress here in NYC.  

Ciao, Allison

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Hanging Mason Jar Planter

Chilly Sunday Greetings Everyone!

I’m sitting here in my very cold living room wondering why if the temperature outside is 31 degrees there is no heat coming out of my radiator.  Burrr!!  So as you might be able to tell, my thoughts have been very much on Spring recently and as I mentioned in my previous Plant Pods post, I have been a bit obsessed with succulents.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, I LOVE succulents.  Partly, they are the only thing I am able to successfully keep alive on my dimly lit window sill, and partly I think there is something about the different shapes of their leaves that really appeals to the architect in me.  Anyway, I am super excited to be sharing this project with everyone because not only does it feature succulents but it is a project that I spotted on Pinterest a long time ago and have been wanting to try out for ages!

the3Rsblog Hanging Mason Jar Planter Final 01

The original blog post that I found via Pinterest had a series of 4 mason jars attached to a longer board that they were using for bathroom storage.  Which I loved, and immediately thought would look super cute holding art supplies like pencils and crayons.  And I actually ran out and purchased the mason jars and the pipe clamps, and just never got around to making the project happen.  But then a few weeks ago I was in the midsts of a winter cleaning and came across this old architectural sample book featuring square samples of Plyboo, which is plywood bamboo that you can buy in sheets for flooring or cabinetry.  I realized that it was completely ridiculous to save this sample book since I have no plans on being an architect any time soon, but if I could rip the samples out of the book I’d have a whole set of different square pieces of Plyboo to use for other projects.  And thus my little planters were born.

the3Rsblog Hanging Mason Jar Planter Final 04

I learned a lot in the process of making these two little planters.  And I was even able to snap a few process photos to help explain how to make them.  (Excuse the yellow lighting, I did the drill work in my kitchen without any natural light around for photos.)  For this project you will need:

Wood, Mason Jar, Pipe Clamp large enough to fit around your mason jar, 1 Screw, 2 Long Nails, 1 Strong Fat Nail, Electric Drill/Screwdriver, Pebbles, Soil, and a Plant

First before anything else you need to address how you are going to hang your piece on the wall.  If I was going to make a larger piece with multiple mason jars I would probably attach some sort of picture hanger to the back, but since I was using these small squares I really wanted them to hang flat against the wall, so I decided that if I drilled two deep holes in the back of the wood and then hammered two long nails into my wall it could hang nicely off of those nails and still sit flat against the wall.  So the very first step I did was drill two deep holes into the back of my Plyboo sample.  (You can see these holes in photo 5 in my photo collage below.)  I found this worked really well with my first sample that was almost 2 inches thick.  Unfortunately that was the only sample of that thickness in my sample pack, and the second one I made had to use a piece that was closer to 1 inch thick.  This two hole technique didn’t work to well with this thinner piece and the weight of the jar pulled the whole piece off of the wall, so I had to add a third triangulated hole to the back after I had finished.  This worked ok, but for future planters I might think about if there is a better technique for hanging it flush against the wall.  I’ll get back to you if I discover one in the future.

Next you are going to work on the front of the piece of wood, and you will first want to open the pipe clamp up so it can lie flat on top of the piece of wood while you are screwing it into place.  This will make everything a lot easier, trust me.  Next you need to screw the pipe clamp into the piece of wood.  All other tutorials I saw just sort of glossed over this part, but what I discovered when I started was that the little slits in the metal clamp are not nearly large enough for a screw, but the metal is also super strong so you can’t just cut a bigger hole yourself.  What I discovered worked best was to first pre-drill the screw hole into the wood.  This may have only been necessary because I was using the Plyboo which is a really hard wood, but it would probably be helpful for anyone.  Then, you get a large fat nail, about the same size as your screw, and hammer it into the hole you’ve pre-drilled, through one of the small slits in the pipe clamp.  This should push the two slits apart and make a larger hole that you can then screw through.  (See photos 1 and 2 in my How-To photo collage below.)  Of course I found getting the nail back out to be a bit tricky, but with a bit of wiggling and some muscle it finally came out.  You should then have a large enough metal hole that you can relatively easily screw through the pipe clamp and into the wood.  Photo 3 shows what it should look like once the pipe clamp is screwed into place.

the3Rsblog Hanging Mason Jar Planter DIY Steps 1-6

And with that you are pretty much finished!  You will want to insert your mason jar and tighten the pipe clamp so it holds the jar securely in place.  Luckily all mason jars have a lip at the top so even if the clamp is a bit loose the jar won’t slip out.  Finally it is time to plant!  The most important thing is to fill the bottom of the jar with pebbles so you have good drainage, since there isn’t a hole in the bottom of your jar for the water to escape through.  This is especially important if you are planting something like succulents or cacti which don’t like to be over watered.  I used black pebbles because I liked that they blended in color wise with the dirt.  Of course you could also have painted the exterior of your mason jar first so you wouldn’t see any of the dirt, but I kind of like seeing it all.  Plus it makes it easy to see how much water you’ve added!

the3Rsblog Hanging Mason Jar Planter Final 02

So far I’ve only made two hanging planters, but I might make more as time goes on.  I’ve hung them on the inside of my deep inset window, so I could theoretically keep hanging more planters up the height of the window if I wanted too.  We’ll see.  If I had a large wall that got a lot of sun I can see these dotted along the whole wall with different sort of plants, maybe a few which are left empty for cut flowers or candles.  The possibilities are endless!  I also am still thinking of using a longer piece of wood to hang a few jars in a row that I could then use for pencils and scissors and other desk supplies.  How cute would these look filled with crayons, markers and color pencils in a child’s room.  And the beauty of the system is you can easily pull one jar out and carry it off to a table if you are using those particular art supplies at that time.

the3Rsblog Hanging Mason Jar Planter Final 03

I hope this post has made you think a bit about Spring, there is still a lot of snow on the ground here in NYC so I think we’ll have a while before there is anything super green to look at outside!  So it is even more important for me to have some greenery inside my own apartment.

Has anyone else tried this hanging mason jar project in their own life?  What did you use the jars for?  I would love to hear about all of your projects.

Ciao, and stay warm!  Allison

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