This week I spent a lot of time shopping thrift stores! We're lucky we live in an area with a number of really nice thrift stores, in particular 2nd Ave, Impact, and Savers being my top three, plus there's a Goodwill and Habitat which I will go to a bit less often. Most of these are within a 15-20 minute drive from my home, so the only times I need to step foot in a first-hand retail store is for groceries and art supplies (most of which I get online these days). So, if there are some thrift store inspirational finds in here, that's why. On to my top ten of creative inspiration this week in no particular order (aka, a few ways to save on art supplies)!
Inspiration #1: Super-Glow Spiderwebs
You may recognize this little character if you or someone you know ever played through the Super Mario Bros games on Nintendo. Yes, that's a Boo! But the real reason I'm sharing this is because I used this stuff to make it:
I found mine at Target, which the bag is smaller than the one on Amazon, but the price also comes out cheaper. That being said, t's not as pleasant to felt as wool. I'll explain: it felts down FAST, but if I can try to accurately describe, it doesn't felt down as smoothly. So before you can felt all the lumps out, it's already fairly dense - so you'd definitely need to use a single needle and not a multi-tool with this stuff once you've got your basic shape done to make sure the lumps are smoothed out. Wool seems to melt together and is a bit more forgiving. However, if you REALLY need something that glows in the dark, it works! Make sure you get the one that says glow in the dark, not the one that says glows with a blacklight. Grab a bag or two now, then if you want more, hold out until the Halloween sales to stock up. Worst case, I'm sure you can always find some online. This is a great way to save on your crafts, because the cheapest I've seen for glow-in-the-dark spinning fiber is $8/oz. Ouch. The bag from target comes to $1.77/oz.
Speaking of which, did you know you can get glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread as well? There's something so fun about glow-in-the-dark stuff - I even have 2oz jars of glow-in-the-dark acrylics, one that glows green and one that glows blue (this is the brand, it's high quality stuff and you can get it in a powder as well).
Inspiration #2: Scrubs!
I've been on the search for the right art-smock for myself, since I'm not the neatest of painters and always end up with some paint on whatever I'm wearing. Plus, I thought an art smock would be cute. But they're so expensive! In High School, our art teacher Mrs. Weinman had us bring an old button-up shirt from our dad that was otherwise headed for the trash (with his permission of course) and wear that backwards. In fact, here's an idea for you parents looking for a smock for your kids - get a little boy's button up at a thrift store in a size or two bigger and do the same thing. In any case, I noticed the scrubs section at the thrift store and found some really cute ones, including a linen one! I got a few for myself, plus one in an XS which I altered just a bit (the one with the orange flowers), which fits my daughter perfectly, like a tunic actually. I also found a button up nightshirt in a pretty green color to use as a smock for those chillier days. The biggest benefit of using scrubs instead of backwards-button-downs are the huge pockets on the front - and for that reason, make sure you look for ones with pockets that go straight across on the front, not angled at the sides (lest your art tools fall out of them). Of course, if you fall in love with one without pockets, and you know how to sew, adding a cute pocket on the front isn't difficult to do.
Inspiration #3: Tins
I LOVE tins, and have quite a collection. Which is why I've been inspired to make a little gift needle felting kit in a tin. Of course, it's hard finding a tin in the right size (many are too small), and vintage ones are even harder to find, so these will be one-of-a-kind, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kits where, as I find the right container, will make a kit and list it in the shop. I also love cigar boxes, but again some are too small, and those I will alter and sell as I find them for a really unique gift! I found a complete set of vintage J. Chinco tins this week, and those will be made into four fun felting kit gifts with a 4.5" square, 2" thick soy foam included (the larger ones priced higher, as they'll have more wool). The vintage tin with the flowers I'm keeping for myself, and the butterfly tin will be a DIY needle felted pendant jewelry kit (foam and needles not included).
Inspiration #4: Funky Fibers
Another great thing to look for is bags of yarn. Often you'll find people will destash when they realize they'll never make that big project they'd been planning, or after a crafty loved one passed away they'd hate to see all that expensive yarn go to waste (I'm going to guess that the former is more common than the latter, but I've come across some pretty old yarn). In any case, unless you're knitting a large project and need a certain amount, this is a great way to add some fun to your projects, especially since you can needle felt yarn! I also picked up some cool thread, because there's another fun project I have in mind (see Inspiration #7).
Inspiration #5: New Favorite Candle
When I said that you can find inspiration anywhere, I mean it. Sometimes you're bursting with creativity, other times you need to set the right mood. Lighting, music, your favorite beverage, surrounding yourself with beautiful things, the right clothes, even fragrance. A year ago I found a candle at a flea market that was called Green Tomato and was hand poured by a local candle maker. I WAS IN LOVE! Even upon returning to that flea market a number of times, I never saw it again, and the one I bought has long since burned out. I've been on the constant hunt for something similar, and finally I came across Herb & Irma's candles at Target. They have one called Tomato Flower & Herbs, and again, I'm in love! It's a soy candle so it's a clean burn, but if you're not a fan of candles, they also have reed diffuser. Of course, I bought both, and the candle is on my desk for the occasional open-sniff-enjoy.
Inspiration #6: My Broken Mug
I got this mug a month ago, which came as part of a soup and sandwich set with a matching hand-painted dish. They were brand new, never used, with the original packaging still intact, so I didn't bother to check it very closely. So I finally decided to use it for some tea one night only to find that there's a fissure going all the way through! I was so sad! BUT, when you're a crafter, even the things most people trash can be your treasure. What that means is you will have a tutorial (either during a Facebook live session or filmed then edited) on how to make a miniature landscape in a mug.
Inspiration #7: Fabric Art Journals
Art journaling is a pretty big thing, and something that's grown quite a bit in the past several years. And then there's fabric art journaling or quilt journaling. What I want to do is take a bit of both, throw 2D felting into the mix and make felt journals. We'll do it together! It will be a fabric journal where anything goes. Mixed media, sewing, free-motion stitching, embroidery, lace, fabric paints, markers, even pockets to tuck-in hand written journal entries, but mostly needle felting. They'll be easier to put together than fabric journals, you don't have to sew if you don't want to, and we can make little needle felted embellishments that we will then add to the pages.
Inspiration #8: More Wool Sweaters!
A few of you may have seen the octopus sweater I needle felted at the end of last month, and one of the best things about fall, when it comes to thrift stores at least, is that's the best time to find wool sweaters. Retail, they are definitely not cheap, especially not merino or cashmere, but I found these for $2-6 apiece. Don't you just love the purple one with the rainbow speckles? So, I will be needle felting more sweaters (and I'll film it this time)!
I rarely get a chance to watch movies... or rather I rarely choose to watch movies. I have so many things to do and unless I play one on my computer at my desk, it's a rarity. This week the kids are sick (again. They were sick two weeks ago, then better last week, and then got sick again on Thursday), and depending on how bad, sometimes they just want a cuddle on the couch. My 19 month old son was up at 6am on Friday, first attempt at a nap was a failure, second attempt he napped for no more than 30 minutes and otherwise spent most of the day pretty miserable. In any case, as I was permanently glued to the couch with him comfortably lounging on my lap, I was flipping through the movies on HBO Go and came across Anina. I absolutely adore movies that are more like a moving work of art with a great storyline, and less about the action and effects and all that other stuff. In fact, maybe I'll include a beautifully animated movie in each week's inspiration post, because some of these are worth keeping just for the art! As a mom, this story almost seemed to be about parenting as it is about learning acceptance and empathy. I especially loved the line "You will never have a recipe for raising me!" after the nosy neighbors gave Anina's mom a guide to disciplining children. Also, the illustrations in Anina reminded me a bit of folk art dolls, which brings me to the final one for this week...
There's something about folk art dolls that I just love so much. And maybe that's why I'm drawn to movies like Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Dave McKean's art. There's character to them, something that is completely lost in mass-produced children's toys... well, except maybe the Asian kawaii things, because those awaken the little child in me, especially when it comes to office supplies and planners and such. But for artistic purposes, folk art dolls are one of my all-time-favorite sources of inspiration, and something I may want to do with needle felt at some point.
What inspired you this week? Please feel free to leave a comment below and share!