Infest the Waters: A Blog About Design, Life and Making Stuff

About a Desk

Finished desk in office

I’ve been meaning to write this post for at least six months, but many things have conspired against me, not least of which is that I was busy growing a tiny human in my uterus.  I’m thrilled to share that we welcomed said tiny human to the world a little over two weeks ago, and while the last two weeks have been filled with lots of diaper changes, breastfeeding sessions and staring endlessly at the tiny human that still confounds me how she came out of my body, I’m finding that I do actually have a decent amount of down time.  It’s just broken up into insanely short chunks.  It’s not ideal for getting any real work done (as evidenced by the fact that I actually started this post four days ago and just got around to finishing it now), but it does afford me time to do things like read and write for very short periods at a time.

So I’m finally able to share a project that I completed last fall–my new office desk!

For years, I’ve wanted a nice, big, flat surface in my workspace–one that would double as a place I could do art projects and cut fabric and spread my stuff out on.  My office in the old house couldn’t really accommodate such a desk, but the office in the new house has ample space, so I figured it was time to upgrade my desk situation.

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Building a Bee Box

Pollinated by bees

I realize it’s been quite some time since I have posted anything, but I have (what I think is) a good excuse.  I’ve been busy living life (instead of posting about it).  Ben and I moved to our new house that he’s been working on for the past five years (yay!), I’ve been working a lot of help pay for construction of said house, I launched a new music venture with two of my best friends and music colleagues, and Ben and I squeezed in a lovely vacation to Colorado.  The work has been (mostly) fulfilling, but needless to say, it’s left little time to do other things, like write blog posts.

But recently, I’ve been on a bee kick.  You’ve heard they’re in a bad way, right?  No?  Well, there’s this thing called colony collapse disorder, and the super smart science people aren’t certain what causes it, but they think that nasty pesticides have something to do with it (in addition to a number of other factors.)

Ben and I have casually kicked around the idea of keeping bees, but we’re not ready for that commitment, so when my good friend, Chris, came to visit us shortly after we moved into the new house and told us about how we could build our own native bee box, which wouldn’t require much extra work besides building the thing and putting it outside, I got really excited.  Yes, yes, I realize that it’s honey bees (and they are non-native to the U.S.) that are affected by colony collapse disorder, but I figured it can’t hurt to help the bee population in general, right?

But seeing as how we just moved and had more pressing things to do (um, yes, I DID need to make sure my linen closet was properly organized RIGHT AWAY), I shelved the bee box idea for the time being.

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Holiday Maker Round-Up: 2014 Edition

Laser cut bird with holly branch ornament

Happy new year, everyone!  Another Christmas past, another bunch of holiday making to share.  No matter how busy the holiday season is for me with performances (and this one was a doozy), I always seem to feel the urge to make a few things to give as gifts.  For me, this usually culminates in a breakdown sometime in the few days leading up to Christmas (after several late nights of frantically scrambling to finish ALL THE THINGS).  Ben had the pleasure of being the recipient of this breakdown on Christmas Eve this year (Thank God he’s a patient soul!), upon which event my sister set out a bottle of bourbon and two glasses and mock-yelled at me, “DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CHRISTMAS?!?”  Ah, holidays.

I’m in a much better state of mind after almost two solid weeks of nothing but drinking, gorging myself on Christmas cookies and peppermint bark, reading, and basking in the warm glow of my Christmas tree.  Thus, I am ready to share with you all the lovely projects that I was cursing only two short weeks ago.

Since I’ve been spending a good deal of time at the Department of Making + Doing, I’ve been inspired by the laser cutter there and decided that I wanted to make a bunch of laser cut ornaments this year customized for each recipient.

Laser cut prickly pear ornament  Laser cut bird with holly branch ornament

Since Ben loves succulents, I made him a prickly pear ornament.  My mom is a bird lover, so I made her a bird ornament that features the little bird that we use as a bit of a mascot for The Wittchen Initiative.  For my sister, I made a Philadelphia map (below).  Ben’s dad collects antique irons, so he got one more for his collection, and my cousin, who bakes amazing cakes, got a stand mixer.

Laser cut Philadelphia, iron and stand mixer ornaments  Laser cut crane and snowflake ornaments

Then I got a little obsessed with the idea of seeing how much I could cut out of an ornament and have it still be structurally sound, so made a crane for Ben’s mom, whose maiden name is Crane, and a snowflake for my aunt and uncle.  (And again you can see the bird I made for my mom, which I decided wouldn’t show up well enough with so much negative space, so I added a white backer.  I daresay my mom may have preferred it without the backer, as she traded it for another ornament I made with the cutouts from her ornament.  Oh well.)

Then, after learning that my cousin is fond of dragonflies, I got really ambitious with the laser cutter and cut a dragonfly with impossibly thin wings.

Laser cut dragonfly necklace  Laser cut dragonfly necklace

Laser cut dragonfly necklace

The wings turned out to be extremely delicate and fragile, so I tried cutting the dragonfly again with minor adjustments to the design file to make the wings sturdier.  I attempted to cut it twice, and each time the wood caught fire.  So it appears that the necklace I made was truly one of a kind since I really don’t know if I could cut one ever again.  It seems like it was a minor miracle that it didn’t burn up the first time.

I was still stuck with the problem of what to do to strengthen the necklace, though, since I was almost 100% convinced that it would break upon the first wearing.  I considered several solutions, including coating it in super glue or epoxy or dipping it in resin.  A friend suggested a good epoxy, but there was no way I was going to be able to order it in time.  I was starting to lose hope when I had an idea come to me almost out of the blue.  Nail polish.  It had most of the material properties I needed, and I could pick it up at Target.  I coated the dragonfly, and voilà!  Not only was it super strong, but it was shiny, too!  Mission accomplished.  I congratulate myself on my resourcefulness.

Next it was on to a table runner for my mom.  Remember those reclaimed felt rounds I got from The Resource Exchange many moons ago, pondered over how to use them for quite some time and ultimately used to make placemats?  Well, it turned out that my mom was sad when she learned that I had given them to my best friend as a housewarming gift.  I considered making her a pair of placemats, too, but then I thought she might make better use of a small table runner that she could set hot dishes on.

Felt round table runner  Felt round table runner close up

Felt round table runner

I’m not sure I’ll make something this large with the felt rounds again, though.  Man, were they a pain to sew on without having them shift all around on me!

After a conversation several months ago with my best friend, I learned that she didn’t own an apron, which really seemed like a travesty to me.  So I resolved then that I would make one for her for Christmas.  I probably should have started it sooner, but hey, if it weren’t for last minutes, there’d be no minutes, right?  I decided to go with a more boxy shape and designed it myself.  (It’s a super simple design.)  I really like the way it turned out, and I may even make one for myself.  It also might be a great project for a future Intro to Sewing class at DM+D.

Baker's apron - front view  Baker's apron - side view

Apron pocket - closeup  Baker's apron - foldedAnd last but not least, I made my Christmas cards again this year.  I knew I wanted to try my hand a block printing again, and once I had to say goodbye to my dog earlier in December, it became clear what the subject matter should be.  It was nice to still have Tex awhile longer through the holidays.

2014 Christmas Cards - Tex  Dog and Christmas Tree Christmas Card

I hope all your holidays were merry and bright, and even though Christmas is over, I think I may keep the wreath I made up just a little while longer.  Happy winter, everyone.  Hope it’s full of making!

Winter wreath






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