20 November 2014

November Projects Book


It's been a while. I have been busy working on a new project lately and haven't managed to squeeze in a post in my regularly scheduled program!

I have created a new blog this last week to test out an idea that I have been developing over the past few weeks. 

One of my dreams in life has been to publish a book, notably a children's book, or at the least, an ILLUSTRATED book! I am pleased to announce that I am currently pursuing that endeavor online! Please leave feedback if you can think of any, because I need all the help I can get!

Once I have completed the story, I plan on printing a copy of it for myself, and possibly leaving a copy at a coffee store or two where I know the owners just for the heck of it.

My story is centered around Cerulean Jay, and the scarlet fox she sees in the woods on her walk to school each day. The time period/setting is supposed to be somewhat timeless, a fairytale type reality that could probably exist in some manner or another in real life.

Cerulean Jay is obviously the name of this blog, and the name of my Etsy store (and now also my Storenvy site), and is the brand that I am hoping to turn into a full time gig at some point in the future. I thought it would be fun, however, to delve deeper into the character of cerulean, since I always imagined my brand to sort of have an alter ego of sorts that would help to dictate what sort of products and articles and stories my brand would tell along the way, and this new blog/fairytale tries to do just that.

To start out at a base level. I thought I would share with you the meaning behind the name of this blog, ceruleanJAY, since it was the name of this one that prompted the story.

ceruleanJAY was initially created as a reference to my spirit animal. I met him in the woods one day during a particularly spiritual walk I took while looking for answers to my wordless questions. I found a tree that seemed to call to me, and I decided to climb into it and sit there a while to sit and think on nature. I felt the need to sing, and so I started softly humming an old spiritual, and as I did, I looked up onto one of the higher branches and a blue jay sat there looking at me. He didn't make a single sound, and we just looked at each other, me singing, and he silent. I felt a great connection to this bird and a great sense of peace and calm filled my heart and seemed to burst out of me. I slowly climbed out of the tree and the experience was over. The word cerulean, is a particularly bright shade of blue that I learned as a child when I would read the name on the sides of crayons. Cerulean was my favorite color for the longest time, so it only seemed fitting that the blue jay would take one the most beautiful, brightest shade of blue, and so that is where the name comes from.

So to add tho this base layer, I decided to create the character, Cerulean. Cerulean is a young school age girl who values family, loyalty, and friendship. She is a lover of nature and things with intrinsic value, such as the handmade cloak her mother sewed for her.

I plan to release a small part of the story each time, in the interest of getting the word out faster, and to ensure I don't get too overwhelmed with the project, or am paralyzed by fear the complete work won't be perfect.A little at a time makes for a much easier project!

Now that I have talked your ear off about my book, make sure to check it out! Without further ado, I present the new and hopefully noteworthy: cerulean + scarlet.

10 October 2014

Extra Paintings

Every time I paint pictures for my Etsy store, I have a few that don't quite fit my standards for something I feel is worthy of selling. This last painting flurry was no exception.

Here is one I painted of my beautiful blue Betta. I wish he had turned out with a bit more depth, but alas, it was not to be. I might work on it a little more some time, but more often than not, when I put the paint brush down and walk away from a painting, it is very hard for me to pick up where I left off and continue again. This one might just be worthy though!

The other one is a play off one of my all time favorite paintings Fox and Moon I made last winter. That one was a winter print while here it is a late autumn theme I went for with the big ole harvest moon. I think close ups never seem to work out for me.

Anyway, I thought I would share, because although I probably won't be posting them anywhere for sale any time soon, but I wanted to share them for fun!

Have a lovely evening!

07 October 2014

Getting Started Making Leather Shoes

A friend suggested this post, so here is everything you absolutely need to know to get started with leather shoe making!

Important tools to have


If you don't want to cry and destroy your fingers yanking needles through holes, an awl is an absolute necessity. An awl is basically a pointy stick you will use to poke holes in the leather to sew through. Leather isn't like cloth, so it doesn't have holes in the weave to allow a needle through, so you will be making all the holes yourself.

When I first tried making shoes, I didn't buy an awl, and I tried to yank each stitch through using only sewing needles. I bought some cheap ones from hobby lobby and ended up breaking all 5 or six of them on one shoe. Not recommended. Also make my fingers hurt and my arm sore.

There are many kinds you can choose from, I recommend getting one that is not super long, and doesn't have a terrible long handle either. Another mistake I made was buying my first awl from hobby lobby. It was about 6 inches long and was ridiculous to handle at that length. Though a thousand times better than just the needles. 


Buy leather needles. They are better. Unless you already have needles because you do a bit of sewing sometimes. Then use those. Don't buy fancy ones until you know you like working with leather. They aren't expensive, but why buy something when you have something else that works just fine for a trial run? The leather ones are a little thicker generally, so a little more durable when you need to yank through a hole that is not quite big enough.

Artificial Sinew

I like artificial sinew (waxed, flat lacing)because it is easy to split if needed, is pretty durable, and gives that natural fresh-from-the-forest look I'm going for. Some stuff is more like rope and is twisted. That stuff is fine too, I just don't prefer it personally. The important part is to make sure it is waxed to provide protection from water damage, and to make slippery enough to make the stitching easy. Also don't get cotton, I am told it can degrade over time. Get something good and synthetic that won't decompose on you if it does get wet.

Leather Thimble

You can make this item using scrap leather and your newly acquired awl, sinew and needle.

Vegetable tanned leather is good for protection but not very flexible. I made a short one to protect my thumb with this type of leather.

A thin garment type leather is good for a thin flexible one that will give you a better grip on the needles. I made mine out of 2-3 oz deerskin.

Box Cutter

A razor blade, exacto knife, etc are very useful for cutting out thick sole leather.


Good for cutting thread and thinner leather.

Contact Cement

Can hold shoes together fairly well, can be used to glue soles on, or glue them in place before stitching them more securely.

There are lots of other useful tools to have, but these will get you started enough so that you can make a pair of shoes without too much difficulty.

Important things to know about leather

Here are some basic info about leather that may help you when trying to decide what type of leather to buy for your shoes. The first leather I bought was vegetable tanned, and was so stiff I couldn't really make anything practical or beautiful out of it. The second leather I bought was some 2-3oz deerskin that while beautiful and soft, was too thin for my shoe making needs. I finally got it right when I bought some  3-4 oz deerskin.


The thickness of the leather is expressed in ounces. Two-three oz leather is usually pretty good for making clothing, but will require a lining if it is to be used in shoe making. Anywhere from 3-5 oz leather is a good range for a lightweight leather for shoes, though keep in mind they might stretch a bit at this weight, especially if it is deerskin. When it is more in the 5-6 oz range, the leather is a bit thicker, and is what I am using now to make moccasins. The ones I made for myself are 3-4 oz deerskin, and my new stuff is 5-6 oz cow hide. Both seem to be good for moccasins, and I think the stuff I have now would be good for making leather work boots and the like. Slightly less flexible, and slightly less stretchy than the 3-4 oz.

I buy thick stuff for soles, anywhere from 8-12 oz cow hide. Vegetable tanned leather also works if you want a thin sole that will develop a patina and wear pretty well indoors and outdoors on grass (not sidewalks and other concrete stuffs).

Cow hide vs deerskin etc

In my experience, deer, and deer-like animals (I have also gotten elk) seem to have very soft, velvety, and stretchy hides, while the cow tends to be thicker, stiffer, and a bit less stretchy. 


Vegetable tanned-
Results in a stiff leather, not recommended for shoe making unless I suppose you wanted to use it as heel stiffener or something like that.At least the stuff I bought so far.

Brain tanned-
Very wonderful, soft flexible leather. It is a difficult process to tan a hide this way though, and so is more expensive. Makes excellent soft, flexible boots and moccasins that are wonderfully warm and cozy. This is the traditional way leather used to be tanned in the old days by Native Americans.

Chemical tanned- lots of leather is tanned by chemicals. Sometimes this bleaches the skin, so that it can be recolored with dyes. Depending on the type of leather and thickness it can be good for making shoes. Much cheaper and faster to produce. This is a lot more complicated than just "chemical tanned" and there are many chemical methods, but this is enough info to get you started. I would probably buy something chemical tanned the first couple times so you don't waste too much on brain tanned. Also it is much easier to find.

Type of grain

Original grain of the leather left on, a more natural look. The grain would be the part that is on the outside of the animal, where the hair would grow out. Full grain means that the hide has not been split into thinner sections and top grain. It originally meant it had the original grain on it, but now could mean that a grain was printed onto one of the split pieces

Leather that has been split, or the grain has been taken off. Velvety look and feel.

The grain has been buffed off to produce a suede. Could also mean that the leather has been rubbed smooth to bring out a shine to the leather. I am currently using buffed cowhide to make moccasins.

Important stitches to know

Whip stitch-This stitch goes around and around always entering the leather form the same side. Is a good way to finish edges in cloth, but it also allows leather to flatten a but better, so Is good for sewing soles on turn shoes, so there isn't a seam to step on. Better if you are planning to add a sole to the bottom, as whip stitches are visible and would come into contact with the ground and wear quickly.

Running stitch- Just a straight stitch, up and down, from both sides. For sewing buffs, don't stitch this like a sewing machine, but all the way through to the other side each time. That way, if a stitch or two breaks, the whole thing won't be undone as quickly.

Square knot-
This is a pretty basic and easy knot that will work well to make sure your artificial sinew doesn't become untied once you are done stitching.

There are a ton of useful stitches to know in leather working, but these basic two will get you pretty far. If I were to suggest another stitch to learn, the baseball stitch can come in handy once in a while.

Important terms to know

Here are some important terms that are used in shoe making. Not a complete list, by any means, but enough to help you out a little as you read other blogs about shoe making.

Collar-the opening of the shoe, hole where your foot goes into the shoe
Uppers-the top half of the shoe

Insole- the part that touches the bottom of your foot, found on the inside of the shoe

Sole- the outside part that touches the ground

Toe box- the room for your toes at the end of the shoe, often there is a stiffer piece of leather inside to ensure that the toes have plenty of room

Heel-the part of the soles under the heel area that is thicker

Last- a form, often made of wood or plastic in the shape of a foot for making shoes

Quarters- the sides of the shoe, part of the uppers

Vamp- the top of the shoe, part of the uppers

Turn shoe- a shoe that is stitched inside out and is turned right side out later, common in Medieval Europe. 

Moccasin- a soft leather shoe without a heel, usually referring to any Native American shoe with a soft flexible sole

Hopefully this information is enough to get you started. If you have any questions, I would be happy to help! I am still learning so I may have to look somethig up, but feel free to ask!

Happy shoe making!!

28 September 2014

Be yourself: don't let others decide who you are

I remember when I was about 10 years old or so I was at a friend's sleepover party and a girl I had never met until that night told me at some point in the evening, 
When I first saw you, I thought you were a geek.
I didn't really think much of it and made a joke about how could I possibly be a geek, and that they wore big ugly glasses or something like that and continued on with the festivities.

Later my friend pulled me aside and told me,
I thought that was really mean what she said. About you being a geek. She can say mean things sometimes. 
She meant it as a really nice, sweet caring thing to say, to show that she was on my side.

But it was at that moment that I realized that I might not be ok just being me,that maybe people wouldn't like me if I was just me. Maybe that girl really did think I was a geek. Maybe she had intended to make fun of me. Maybe I was not good enough if I was just being myself. Maybe I was no good at all. This memory has stuck with me all these years and I can still picture it happening, how I was hiding behind the door giggling when this girl arrived, where I was in the house when my friend was telling me about what she thought about what that girl said. I think I lost some of myself that day. I lost my carefree freedom you feel as a child. I lost some of my essence. I had to be someone else. Someone better.

I want to claim this childhood innocence back. I want to be me again. I want to know that maybe as long as I aim to be a good, honest, trustworthy and honorable person, that I am ok just being me. If I stand up for what is right. It doesn't matter if I don't fit into the box people expect me to live inside of. I can't be perfect, no one can. But I can be me.

Something my grandma said to me last week really brought it together for me. She was saying how happy she was to see me and how she was sorry she wasn't so good at calling or texting or writing as she would like, and I said, "That's ok I'm not very good at that keeping in touch either."

And she said,
I know Amy, I know you. and thats ok, because we are together now and we can enjoy this time now and know we are thinking about each other and that we love each other no matter where we are or what we are up to.
And I think I have made a lot of people mad at me at various times because I am not very good about calling back or texting or emailing. I suck at it. I try, but it just isn't natural for me to keep up on stuff like that. I know its important, but I just can't do it consistently. But my grandma called me out on it and said, I know that you are no good at it, but I accept you anyways. Granted, it is probably easier for her to understand since she has the same struggle, but she accepts that that is who I am and that it doesn't mean I am a bad person, but just that I have a weakness and that is ok. It doesn't mean I don't still try to get better and keep up on it, just means I am not a complete failure just because I am not perfect.

If I do ever get around to writing a letter, I give it 110%. It is probably 3 pages long, and has cramped writing at the end to fit it all. If I do text someone, it means I am not in the middle of work or a conversation with someone else, and that I am committed to talking with the person I am texting for as long as I can.

But this is not about excuses or explanation, or justifications. And this isn't about my ability to write letters or make phone calls. It isn't about wearing the wrong outfit, being too shy at the party, or making a mistake at work. This is about every one of these fears I have had about what box people are putting me into since I was 10 years old and realized that boxes existed and that they weren't always good. Boxes that made me ugly, boring, stupid or incompetent.

This is about acceptance. If I forget and I mess up and I fail completely, the sun will still rise and set, and I am still me and that is ok. Maybe I am a geek. Maybe it doesn't matter. This is a box someone else is placing me into. They can try to put me there, but I can only be there in their mind. I can just hop out of the box and continue on my way, just being me. I have lived embarrassed and ashamed and fearful of others opinions for far too long. 

Living in other people's boxes, conforming to what they want you to be, is turning yourself into a robot. You are simply following programs others set out for you. You don't work well this way. You will either die and become a robot, or you will eat away at yourself until there is nothing left of you. You will grow to hate you. Whenever I fall into the trap of someone else's box, I don't feel good. I hate myself. I judge myself. I should have been better, I should have been smarter. I hurt myself and everyone around me when I get this way. I can't get better or change because I am fixated on my failure. Regain your identity.

STOP FEAR. BE YOU. You may surprise yourself.

17 September 2014

Regency Style Jane Austin Turn Shoes Project

Tried something a little different, let me know what you think!
Just a little visual tutorial on some pretty simple regency era turn shoes. I haven't had time to take pictures of the real deal, and this sounded like a fun project, so I decided to work on it :) If you are getting confused, here is a link to my Blue Lace ballet flats tutorial, and for a good start on a shoe patten, this tutorial I made would work marvelously!!


12 September 2014

Adding a sole to your shoe! (Leather Sole)

Hey guys I have to share with you the coolest thing I have just learned! I learned how to make a channel in a leather sole to attach it securely without fear of ruining the stitches by walking on them, and not having to do crazy extra amounts of sewing a welt and all that stuff.

I didn't intend to make cool legit awesome soles for my moccasins. I was content to keep the thin vegetable tanned soles I had glued on simply as a slightly stronger protection from the outside ground, side walks and the like. I had wanted more-so to protect the super soft deerskin of my shoes than to protect my feet. I was going for a natural as traditional as possible style with these shoes.

Unfortunately the dang sole kept coming unglued. Annoying, but I was committed to keeping the protection to my soles so I just glued them back on every once in a while.  It seemed though, like every time it rained, the soles came unstuck again.

Then disaster struck! I was walking around in the dew covered grass at my in-laws and got my precious shoes wet! No matter! I hung them on a branch to dry, and left them out in the sunshine. When I returned I realized that one of them had blown down from the tree and found its way to Shep's lair!!!!! (Shep is the dog) He had managed to make a pretty good slice in the back heel on the left side. :(

I decided to add another piece of leather to patch the ends. Sort of ruining my official moccasin look, but oh well, maybe I could attach a decent sole while I was at it. Here is the patch. I made it the shape that a lot of shoes are on the back for heel support reasons, and while the support I needed was more just for the patching, I figured it would look a little prettier this way and maybe have some nice heel support while I was at it.

After looking into it on one of my favorite shoemaking blogs, Bespoke Shoes Unlaced, I came across this awesome article! I didn't go all out creating a welt and such, since I really just wanted a sole and wasn't ready to dive into all the intricacies of a handmade Goodyear welt type sole, but I decided to try the channel idea out for fun.

The basic idea of a channel is to create a space where the stitches can lie that will not be directly touching the ground while walking. This creates more durability in the long run because the stitches will not wear through and break. I made a simple diagram that hopefully illustrates what I was trying to accomplish.

Hopefully this illustrates the concept fairly simply. I started out by gluing the insole and sole to the shoe and letting it dry. I wanted those piece to stay where they were at while I was sewing them to the shoe.

The next step is to mark out and cut the channel. I didn't take a picture of marking the line, but basically I used a pointy object to press enough of a line into the leather so that I could see when I cut. I tried to make the line as close as possible to the edge of the sole. I used a fresh blade when making the cut to ensure a sharp clean easy cut. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be actually. I think the key is, super sharp knife, and even pressure while cutting.

Using a flat-ish object (like a flat-head screwdriver) pull the slice you made open a little to expose the area for stitching.

Next, use an awl to make holes through all layers of the sole, insole, and upper and stitch using a running stitch. Make sure the holes you make are plenty big, the cut leather slice will cover the stitches up later making the whole thing fairly waterproof, so larger holes are ok!

Once the soles are stitched all the way around, tie a good knot between the insole and the main part of the shoe (uppers) so that the knot isn't exposed to anything that could make it untie. Use a good tight square knot.

Then use a semi blunt object to rub the stitches to make sure they are all laying flat in the channel. I used a knitting needle because I had one laying around, but the official suggestion from the bespoke shoes unlaced blog is to use a deer bone. This is to make sure there is no
ridge along the channel  when you put it back together.

Using a paintbrush, paint contact cement into the channel and wait about 10 minutes or until it is tacky. Then, using a hammer, rub the lifted leather back into the space where it was before you cut it. When everything is relatively smooth, hammer the sole along the edges and across the entirely of the sole. This will both smash the cut channel back into place and compress the leather making it much more durable over time. If you can, place it against a hard surface so you can hammer pretty hard. However, you don't want to hammer dents into the leather either, so if you make any, try to hammer around the area to smooth it back out again, and proceed a little more gently.

About half way through hammering. See how the channel is flat, but could use a bit more flattening!

Let dry and now you have a beautiful, watertight sole that will last many miles of walking! The beauty of a leather sole is not only is it breathable, but it also will conform to the shape of your foot after a few wears, creating a custom fit!

Note: The soles are only as waterproof as the leather is. If you are walking out in the rain for an extended period of time, the leather will get wet and make your feet slightly damp. But it shouldn't leak thorugh the stitches if you have adequately glued the channel back into place. I walked through a river-like puddle flowing through the HyVee parking lot earlier this week, however, and the only part that seemed to get wet was the tops from the raindrops, so I think it will resist a lot of water!

Happy shoemaking!!

26 August 2014

Regency Period Shoes!!

I have once again been PINspired! Here are a couple exquisite shoes I found on Pinterest that date back to the late 1700s, early 1800s, AKA The Regency Time Period!! (Read: Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice time period)

The link to this one just sent me HERE?? But look at the gorgeous detail on these simple leather soles!

From 1810s. American, featured at the Met Museum Online

These shoes were worn once, at a wedding. Beautiful!
Some of them get quite fancy! Image from (MFA Boston)

Had to include these! I had very similar shoes a year or two ago and they were my favorite ever! (the met again)

Unfortunately, Pinterest provided beautiful pictures, but the links the pictures sent me on a dead end on how I could conjure up my own pair! :(

Finally, I stumbled across this lovely tutorial!

link to the lovely miss charlotte's tutorial!
Seems pretty simple, and similar to the blue ballet flats tutorial I did about 6 months ago or so. So,I will plan to try making some of these over the next few weeks, and I will show you how it turns out! Possibly tutorial in the future....

Hope you are inspired as I am! Happy shoemaking!!!

19 August 2014

Cool things I learned on Photoshop: Adjustment Layers and Layer Masks

I just got a new job working for Photosynthesis as a graphic designer/retail associate/IT camera "specialist". Part of this new job has made me realize how little I actually understand about Photoshop. As a Linux user, I have had access to several free and super awesome programs such as Inkscape and GIMP. However, I have mostly been learning as I go and playing around with things up until this point. And most of my useful knowledge is wrapped up in Inkscape, a vector program that is very similar to Adobe Illustrator.

However, now I need to learn how to work with raster images! Here are some really simple things I have learned so far that helps with maintaining image info. You want to keep the photo's original information at least until you are done editing to keep the photo from degrading as you edit.

Two Important things! 



Adjustment Layer

An Adjustment Layer is useful for changing things like the levels, hue/saturation, brightness/contrast, etc. Each time you use one of these, it removes some of the original data/info from the picture, which eventually can show up as patchy looking shading or poor transitioning colors.

For a visual, here is what happens to the levels when you adjust them without using an adjustment layer. The white you see between the bars after the adjustment is representative of the missing info!

To avoid this, we can simply select the adjustment layer button as seen above (looks like half black/ half white circle). This will add a layer to the picture to keep the original intact in case you want to edit it more later. If you decide you were too drastic when you brought the arrows in, for examle, you can adjust them back out a little later. This could not be done with just a straight level adjustment, because the level adjuster has erased the outsides when you brought them in earlier.

For fun, I have an image that I made an adjustment to using the adjustment layer levels.

Layer Mask

A layer mask is useful if you want to change or adjust only parts of an image. Here I am using it to brighten up the background of my picture. First you will want to make a copy of your background and make adjustments as necessary. I brightened my image quite a bit to remove some of the grey background from the picture. You can see this layer at the right.

As you can see, the picture doesn't look very good, but I just want to focus on the background right now, and that part looks good, so I will leave it like this for now.

Now, using the button you saw in the first image of this post (its the white circle one), I am going to create a layer mask. You can choose to have it all white or all black. Areas that are black represent transparent parts, and white is visible. I want the brightened background to show up, so I am going to make the layer black, and use the brush tool color the background area white. Make sense?

So the image on the left side represents what was visible in the white areas, and invisible in black areas. So in the end only the background of the photo is brightened, and the original picture shows through in the black areas.

And because we were geniuses and used a layer mask, the original photo remains unaltered in case you decide the background does not need to be lightened! Woo!

Here is a picture of the before and after on the layer mask. Pretty good for a "bored one day selfie"!!

P.S. Photoshop people! Am I making a fool of myself or is my info accurate?? I am learning as I go, and would LOVE not to lead people astray! Please leave any comments about and inaccurate info I have above! Thanks!

05 August 2014

Co-wash your hair people!

see! Wavy, not frizzy!
Some time last year I shared a post about how I wash my face using only natural ingredients, so I thought I would share my method for washing my hair as well. Around the time I started using baking soda to wash my face, I was also experimenting with using it to wash my hair as well. Apparently you can use the baking soda as hair wash and vinegar as a conditioner. The science behind it is that the baking soda causes the scales on your hair to open up to allow water to come in and dirt, oils etc. to escape. The vinegar, which has a similar pH balance to hair, helps to close the scales afterwards to keep the hair soft, shiny and strong.

In theory. I loved the idea of such simple and natural ingredients to not only on my face, but also my hair. However, I just couldn't get the balance right. My hair just continued to feel dry. It looked ok (not frizzy) but it felt so dry.

So I gave the idea up and decided to try co-washing. Co-washing is using conditioner only to wash your hair on a regular basis, and occasionally using shampoo maybe, if you want to. I have been doing this for about a year and I love it! My hair is so much less frizzy overall, and it behaves much better after I style it. Used to be if I straightened or curled or even blow-dried my hair, within a half hour the humidity would put me back to square one! The picture above is of my hair today. I didn't do anything special with it, no products, nothing, just washed and then raced off to work. Its not perfect, but it was fairly humid today, so it held up really well. I used to shampoo it about once a week, but lately it has been more like every other week. I find that really rinsing well at the end makes me not have to shampoo as often.

I first read about co-washing on naturallycurly.com, but I don't believe you really need to have curly hair to follow their ideas. Mine is wavy, and I get some ringlets around my face during the most humid days in the Iowa July and August weather, but in the winter it stays pretty straight. Or frizzy/straightish. I find that the Naturally Curly website is incredibly difficult to use, however, so I decided to provide my own tutorial here! (Complete with products I have tried that work for me)

 Here is what I do:

  1. Wet hair thoroughly
  2. Add conditioner to scalp and rub in, making sure it is saturated to the scalp.
  3. Add more to the middle of hair. Make sure it is saturated as well.
  4. Saturate the ends with any left over conditioner or add more.
  5. You will use a lot more conditioner than you usually do. I probably use a good Tablespoon or two each time I wash. You want the hair to be pretty slippery feeling to ensure that there is enough in. (Optional: Comb in shower with a wide tooth comb before rinsing.)
  6. Rub your scalp really well to work all the conditioner in to your hair. The conditioner has a small amount of soap to remove dirt and things, but you need to work a little harder at getting it to work. Work it up into a bit of a lather. It will not bubble like shampoo, but it will get a little bubbly. I find that if I do not use enough, sometimes the hair near my scalp on the back of my head remains a little greasy feeling at the end.
  7. Rinse really really well. 

 The most important thing to remember when you chose a conditioner is that it not have any silicones in it. Silicones help to smooth the hair down after you wash so that it can look silky smooth. This is like the more lab-chemical  version of what the vinegar does. Sulphates in shampoo act as the baking soda to help open up the scales and get rid of the silicones. However, silicones really only acts as a band-aid to cover up damages to your hair, rather than to make it strong and healthy. If you only condition your hair, these silicones will build up in your hair, so we need to make sure the conditioner we use is silicone free. 

Here is a list of some silicone free hair products you can try!

I will make another post about the products I have tried and currently use.
Good luck! Please feel free to leave any questions or tell me how your co-washing experience went! 

(After a while searching, I found the breakdown of the "curly girl method" which is basically a tutorial for how to co-wash your hair. Doesn't have cool illustrations though...)

04 August 2014

Super Rad Tiny Houses

tiny houses for the (previously) homeless
So Pinterest is being dumb and not letting me pin the awesome things I am finding in my travels on the internet, so I decided to post a few pictures here for a work-around to the ole' Pinterest machine.

For a while now, Wayne and I have been really interested in the Tiny House Movement. I don't know if its an actual movement or not, but people who like to live in super small spaces, because, well, we maybe don't need as much space as we have led ourselves to believe. A movement back toward simpler times, where we didn't need a gadget for each and every thing we do. They have their own blog. That means it must be a movement, right?

Besides, even if you want to be all modern and stuff, you can really simplify a lot down to just your phone and computer these days right? This isn't just for the Little House on the Prairie people. City folks can get excited about this stuff too. :)

Anyhow, I just saw two mini sizes houses on the Tiny House Talk Blog that I just thought were really neat. First one, because who doesn't love gorgeous simple rustic looking stained wood panelling and circle shaped windows? Also Hawaii?? This one is 200 sq ft and features a loft area for the bed and custom fit furniture. I only wish there was a picture of the kitchen and bathroom!

link to this beauty!

The second one is a mobile tiny littl thing, at a miniature 160 sq ft (not including 2nd floor). The thing I like about this next one, is not only does it look super cute and neat and tidy, but the people claim that they have already been living in it for a month! I want a home that looks like this after a month! I am much more prone to leaving messes, but maybe if it was as small as theirs I would have less stuff? One can hope. Here is their adorable kitchen.

link to their home!
 And their cozy 2nd floor/loft bedroom! 

link to article

Does anyone else want a tiny house now? 

24 July 2014

Ojibwe Style Moccasins: First Journey

So I used contact cement to add a veg tan sole to the bottom of the moccasin, and then headed for a week long trip to Michigan! Here is what the soles and tops look like. I tried to really cut the sole down to the parts that would actually contact the ground to gain a super flexible and comfortable shoe. The tops have an uneven coloring since I had just applied the oil and it hadn't had time to saturate evenly yet.

We got all the way to Ludington, MI before I remembered to put them on. Beautiful campsite.

CLICK HERE to see my Etsy listing of this item!

Here are some shots of the lovely downtown area. Highly recommend!

I mostly wore them around the campsite at nights, and during the car rides. I switched shoes whenever I knew we would walk a ways, to preserve the leather soles.

Here are what they look like on my feet on the drive home. So far they are holding up pretty well, especially considering all the side walk I walked on in them that I shouldn't have.

Anyhow, I have really enjoyed wearing them so far! This is my first pair that has fit super comfortably even the first few times I wore them. The others so far have a "breaking in period" mostly in the toe area before they are super comfortable to wear. I need to go back and re-glue some areas where the sole is coming apart from the shoe, but other than that, they have functioned perfectly!

08 July 2014

DIY Ojibwe Pucker-Toe Moccasin Assembly (Part 2!)

So yesterday we were talking about making an Ojibwe Pucker Toe Moccasin Pattern. Today I am going to show you how to sew your moccasins together!

To assemble, line the marks, horizontal and vertical, from the top and bottom and run a piece of sinew through each as place holders. Use your awl to pierce the holes before you run the sinew through. Hold the awl like so, and make sure your other hand grips the leather close to where you plan to pierce it. But don't stab yourself! Be careful!

Pierce holes where the horizontal marks start, and at the vertical mark if you made one. Make the marks far enough away from the edge so they do not rip out later. A quarter inch should be plenty. For the vertical mark, run a short piece of sinew through and tie with a knot you will be able to undo later. You will just use this mark to make sure everything stays evenly puckered on either side. For the horizontal side pieces, tie a good solid knot and use a 2-3 foot long piece of sinew. I made a square knot which I plan to melt slightly with a candle to make the knot hold fast.

Using a simple straight, or running stitch, make the first couple stitches on both sides. The first few do not have to be puckered or gathered. See picture below to see what I mean.

For the next part, with each stitch, pull the bottom fabric in a little so that it gathers slightly. The trick is to make them as close to the same amount gathered each time so there are no major puckers. If it helps, you could have a set number of stitches marked with chalk or a marker to make it easier to be consistent. If you do this, make sure there are the same number of holes for the top as the bottom.

Once your stitches meet up in the middle, you can go back through the same hole with the opposite string, like seen below. You may need to add an extra hole to make sure they are going through the opposite way as the first string. Eg. If the left string went under at one point, the right string will go over.

Finish by tying a knot. If you like, you can continue around top part like I did.

Next, you will have to stitch the back together. A whip stitch is the easiest for this task. Stitch around the top part as seen below.

Now you may want to round the edges of the tab leftover before stitching it down. Just trim to desired shape with scissors.

Using a whip stitch, stitch the tab to the heel portion of the moccasins.

You can stitch around the top of the ankle if you like for added durability like I did, or wear as is! I would definitely recommend the extra stitching around the top, as the leather will be under some strain as you walk in the moccasins. And that's it! Pretty simple, huh? You can cut out a sole and either glue or stitch it down. If you want, you can follow my tutorial for sewing a sole using a channel. Also, a cuff could be added to make boots. If following this tutorial, don't hesitate to ask me any questions you may have!

Good luck!Happy shoe-making!

Click here for a few more pictures of the finished product!

Popular Posts