Homeade Batik Fabrics…Not Gluten Free!

 
I came across this really cool idea from an artsy parent website.  I am really sorry that I can’t find it again and share the original link. (I will have to get better about that.) For those of you who follow me on Instagram (www.instagram.com/goodwinscustomcrafts) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/goodwinscustomcrafts) you “may” have already seen some of these images. >insert heavy dose of sarcasm here<

Actually, you would have seen them over and over across the last IMG_9143IMG_9133couple of months as the project went from the initial phase to the complete one.  I had so much fun with this project and the unlimited potential for creativity and was so pleased with the outcome that I was a little obnoxious about it.  The kids each got a piece of fabric to do themselves, then my oldest and I worked on the large one together.  I debated about keeping the final product for myself, but I put a nice asking price on it, and honestly, I struggled to find a place to hang it in my tiny house.  I am reassured by the fact that there will be more of these in the future!!

I don’t really know how to do a tutorial other than list the steps and share pictures.  ( I would love to do some development in this area of my life!!)  So anyway, this IMG_9165was so easy!  Here is how we did it:

NEED:

squeeze bottles with small holes (I found some reusable ketchup and mustard bottles at the dollar store but you could also reuse actual mustard bottles…ketchup bottles have a little too large a hole); water and whole wheat flour in equal parts; organic sateen cotton fabric (works best because the weave is tight and it keeps the flour glue from soaking through as much); newspaper (to layer underneath to catch the moisture), 5 gallon buckets or large soup pot for dying, some sort of dye of your choice (I get mine at www.dharmatrading.com ), rubber gloves

Now, if you are asking yourself if whole wheat flour is really necessary, I have no idea.  It is what I read about and what I used, so I don’t know how this changes if you use regular white flour or regular cotton, but I suspect the process is flexible and would accommodate those variations with little trouble. I get my organic cotton sateen from www.organiccottonplus.com .

STEPS:

  1. Mix the water and flour together until there are no clumps, as they will get stuck in the squeeze bottles.  I suggest a kid who likes to whisk things! 🙂  You are basically making a flour glue or paste that is thin enough to squeeze out of bottles without running.
  2. Fill squeeze bottles, enough for everyone to have their own if you can, or you can share.  We aren’t good at sharing when it’s something really fun like this!
  3. Lay your newspaper down on the floor, a table, or whatever surface you are using.  The thicker the better.  I think I also opened up some cardboard boxes to lay down.  It gets VERY wet, so protect your surfaces!
  4. Spread out your fabric and GO. TO. TOWN.  I suggest doing a little research first on the history of batik fabrics because it is AMAZING and will totally inspire you to get creative and give your kiddos an appreciation for this age-old process.
  5. Now for the hard part…Waiting for the flour glue to dry.  The longer you can leave it to dry, the better your batik will be.  The flour should be mostly solid to the touch, but still slightly flexible.  If it gets TOO dry, it will crack and fall off in the dye bath.
  6. After fabric design has dried to the touch, fix your dye. I use five gallon buckets in the bath tub or kitchen floor, but you could do it outside too.  You might want some rubber gloves for handling the fabric while it’s IN the dye bath.  I gently dunked the fabric in the dye bath and didn’t agitate it too much, in order to keep the flour in place.  Stir it, but don’t WHIP it, if you know what I mean…
  7. I am not going to go into how to dye fabric because that is way too complicated and you can learn it on your own from whatever dye company you dye from…So yeah, you are on your own from here.  The take-away is that NOW you dye it.
  8. When the dye bath is finished, you will need to rinse out the remaining flour mixture.
  9. Open up your creation and ENJOY!  It will be beautiful!  Share you pictures in the comments, share on Instagram or Facebook and tag me because I would love to see it!!!
  10. Oh yeah…You have to wash it throughly, but that also has to do with the dye instructions, depending on the dye you used.  Fabric should be washed a couple of times just to be sure the dye is all out.  I wouldn’t recommend washing with other items.  Wash alone, dry alone, at least the first time.

That’s it.  I was very torn about what to do with my fabric pieces.  I thought about making a prayer flag banner, scarves, placemats, but ultimately, I made a quilt because that is what I love.  You could even frame them if you used small bits of fabric.

Thanks for reading and I really do hope you enjoy the process.  I know I did and the kids too.  DSC_0051

 

 

A Moving Target…The story of how a quilt taught me a lesson.

 

Life is a process of constant edits.  Like my Grandmother always says, (who is in her 90’s and I talked to for over 30 minutes on the phone about her blooming flowers this morning!) “Just when you start to make ends meet, somebody moves the other end!”  I am constantly trying to reinvent myself, my life, my process, to be more like the pictures I see in my head.  Sometimes, that is a very messy and inconvenient thing, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought to myself after such a decision, “Man, I wish I had just left well enough alone and not done that!”  IMG_9275I like that process of reinvention because it moves me closer to my dreams.  Eventually, you have to accept where you are and what you’ve accomplished, of course, but it’s the little corrections along the way that caught my attention with this project.  I thought I was finished with this quilt yesterday.  I pulled it off the stack of projects needing attention and found a backing for it that I liked…Indigo because that is my favorite color these days, and I proceeded to put it together, pinning here and there, and thinking of how it would be quilted.  I finished pinning it and put it on my desk to begin and I thought to myself, “Wait!! THIS IS NOT FINISHED.”  I groaned inwardly to myself, because of course I wait until after I am finished with the basting it to have a stroke of inspiration.  I had already cut the batting to size, found the perfect backing, and spent almost two hours getting it to this point.  But still, something felt like it was missing.  I unpinned everything and decided that adding a big, chunky ol’ indigo border to the quilt was just what it needed.   IMG_9280I had told myself this year I wanted to make bigger quilts, and not limit myself to just crib and toddler sizes, so adding the borders was the extra step I told myself I needed to start taking more this year.  It would have been easier to just proceed with the quilt as it was, because pinning is not my favorite part of the process and it was already done, but I have learned that I am never happy with myself when I ignore those little voices.  So I unpinned, added borders, and picked a new backing material, which luckily, is the perfect fit.  So it was an edit…an erase and do-over, but I’m usually glad when I can make that happen, and now, the quilt feels finished!  Happy Saturday y’all, and always remember to go with your intuition…You will be glad you did!

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Featured Item of the DAY!

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The featured item of the day is the gruesome, terrifying, no-just-kidding, he’s really sweet, Tiger mask!  Handmade, hand cut, machine stitched and embellished using only high quality, durable, and machine washable eco felt.  I love eco felt because it is made from post consumer plastic bottles, right there in the USA!  Score and score.  I am getting back into my groove this year, post Halloween, post-Christmas, post New Year, post getting back into a routine, so I thought I would cut myself a little slack and share a simple, fun product just to make you smile this beautiful Friday afternoon.  IMG_3004These are also available in pure merino wool felt if you have a little more $$ to spend.  The wool felt version is not machine washable, but is so super nice and naturally flame retardant.  It’s great play either way.  Find them, the tails, and the handmade tiger fleece vests to round off the adventure in my shop, The Tree House Kid!  Have fun and be safe this weekend!  Cheers from all of us at Goodwin’s Custom Crafts!

HOLIDAY SHOPPING NEWS ~

I am getting excited about my tour about town tomorrow, seeking out all of my favorite local businesses to support on Small Business Saturday!  I support small year round, but I do understand how exciting it can be for a small business to have a banging start to the holiday season, so I am going to do my best to hit up all of my favorites.  Speaking of hitting up your favorites (wink-wink!) I would like to share our own small business specials and events coming up.  Josh and I both are offering a sale in our Etsy shops through Cyber Monday for 10% off $100 purchase, 15% off $200 purchase, and 20% off $300 purchase!  That’s a pretty big sale for us, so if you wanted to do any holiday shopping with us, it will not get better than this!  UNLESS you are within driving distance and would like to come shop with us in person this upcoming weekend, December 5th and 6th.  We will be at our annual Big Oaks Winter Sale out on the lovely 300+ acre farm of our friend Carey and Brant Slay from 10am-5pm both days, and you can get directions if you plug this address into Google Maps:  10747 UNION PLEASANT GROVE OMAHA, GA 31821  In addition to all of our work, Carey will be selling all of her wonderful wood fired pottery.  We will have a friendly, open buffet of snacks and tea to eat while you browse, chat, and take a break from the holiday chaos under the mighty boughs of the Big Oak trees.  We offer great in-person discounts and will have a variety of items from all four of the Etsy shops on display.  I love to “clean house” at the end of the year to make room for new products, so a lot of things will be greatly discounted.  This is a great opportunity to shop small and get lots of beautifully made gifts for your friends and family.  These pictures from last year’s show speak for themselves and we hope to see you there!  If you would like to see links to all of our Etsy shops in one place and start shopping early, click here.

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Woodworking Slideshow for Today’s Makers’ Fair!

We are going to be kicking it at Barnes and Nobles today for the Makers’ Fair, and thought it would be really awesome to have some pictures representing Josh’s woodworking process.  If you are local to the area and want to come “Meet the Makers”, swing by today!

I do love a good epiphany…

Three cheers for epiphanies and self discovery!! (AKA – talking to yourself! )

Many of you who know me know that I go through a “thing” this time of year.  A lot of you who don’t know me probably know this as well, as I keep bringing it up, stumbling over it in an attempt to wrap my head around it and move forward!  It is the post-Halloween funk that creeps in every year.  BUT I just had an epiphany.  The kind that as soon as you think it, realize that it is true because of the pure simplicity of it.  Finally, I can navigate through the turmoil because I have identified it!  I have been seeing things all wrong.  I have always thought that my struggle this time of year is because I go from being SO SUPER BUSY to having nothing to do…I stumble over my ideas, my creativity, don’t know where to start or how to get anything done.  I always thought this was because after a long period of hard work, I am free to chill but just can’t figure out how to relax, BUT THAT’S BACKWARDS!!  I was talking to myself (of course), considering sending a message to a very dear friend who does a lot of energy healing and in my mind, I was trying to figure out what I would ask her if I could…If I was willing to call her up and say “Hey lady!  Help me out here!” what exactly would I be asking for help for?  Then I heard it clear as a bell in my mind.  How to focus my energy… You see, it isn’t that I am suffering from a lack of this or that, but it is actually too much to handle all at once!  I go from having my days laid out very simply, like a train on the tracks, one order after another, from start to finish every day.  There isn’t a lot of wiggle room, so I adapt and get used to not having to think about any of it.  I make my to-do list, and just get to work shipping them out as soon as I am able.  When it is over, I am left not with too much time on my hands, aimless and drifting with no direction, but am actually suffering from an overload of choices!  It’s like being on a diet of greens and nuts, then going to a rich, succulent Indian buffet!   It’s everything you’ve been missing and it hits you all at once that you could eat it all!! But wait, you can’t….You have to pick and choose, and in a way, it is almost like you have forgotten how to exercise that muscle of choice.  How to go carefully and thoughtfully forward in a present state of mind, without a road map to guide you.  I always stumble this time of year, so now that I know why, I have a plan.  If my “choice” muscle is out of practice, I need to start small, with simple choices every day, and build up to the bigger ones.  I have 20 minutes before the kids get home from school, how do I want to spend it?  Do I want to photograph some new items for the shop, or start stitching this new quilt I’ve had on hold forever, or just meditate on my new discovery?  I know one thing is for sure:  I love having choices and I plan to take full advantage of it while I can so that when the path is laid out and simple again, I can appreciate a break this more complicated matrix of creating and building things from scratch!  I love a good epiphany. <3

Crickets and Daydreams…

SO, the crickets are chirping in my head this week.  The busy, buzzy hmm of Halloween business is over and this should be the week to get the creative juices flowing again!  It *should* be, but as I said, the crickets are chirping up there and I don’t really know where to start.  I have some projects to make for Goodwin’s Custom Crafts, baby bedding, nursing pillow covers, but I am waiting for the fabric I ordered to arrive so they can be made.  I am caught up with most other things (SHH – Like saying Macbeth in the theater!) and I should be excitedly plotting my next quilt or set of projects, designing new fabric, or creating some cute Christmas il_fullxfull.614197662_cf9kbanners for my Etsy shops and making the absolute most out of these few days of relative creative freedom between the busy seasons.  Instead, I am sitting here, staring at my to-do list, contemplating a nap.  I always do this…go through a lull between the seasons.  I could be chasing that creative high and pushing through to get some new things listed, or getting ready for our big holiday show, but really, I just want to rest…To take a moment with my rock collection, stare out the window and daydream, watch some mindless TV and fold laundry, or wallow in bed with the kids.  The pressure to “Act fast or this moment will pass!” is there, yelling in the back of my head for me to pull it together and seize the day!  But the more tempting, subtle little message rolling around in my head is to walk away and enjoy the slow moment.  Let it wash over me and give into it.  The creativity will come back.  It always does!  But not if you are pushing and forcing it and being a brute with yourself.  So today, I surrender.  I give in to the laziest version of myself, and will wait quietly for the ideas, passion, drive, desire to create to come back to me.  We will reunite again.  Perhaps after some daydreaming.

The Harrowing Halloween Truth…

 

Let me start by saying that it’s been a GREAT Halloween season.  This year was a little different because my Mom was coming over a couple of times a week to help me snip threads, cut out designs, and wrangle the little ones while I pushed through the workload, not to mention this is the first season that Josh has also been working from home and available to be my back-up.  All in all, I am coming out on top of the game this year.  That is not always the case, trust me.  IMG_4462The harrowing Halloween truth is that this time of year, the volume of business which I am simultaneously SO grateful for and slightly terrified of, nearly ruins me.  No matter how prepared I am, no matter how many extra capes, crowns, and masks I have put back throughout the year, it always has a way of sneaking up on me.  I go from having fewer and fewer little moments to relax to all of a sudden, I realize I haven’t signed a kid’s school folder for weeks, haven’t been in the kitchen for days, (I have only cooked about one homemade meal a week for the last couple months, which is horrible for me because I LOVE to cook and it is so cathartic to me!), and have nearly given up running and biking altogether…All the little things that make me feel grounded and centered and pulled together, in other words, get forsaken during this season.  And while I have gotten so much better about taking care of myself and maintaining good familial relationships during this phase, there have been years (this is my fifth Halloween on Etsy as a costume designer) that I have felt like a vessel for all the work that passed through my hands and nothing more when it was over.  IMG_4110Literally nothing left inside me.  Hollow, empty, sad, tired, and so in need of a break and some down time that I didn’t even realize it anymore.  You all know the feeling.  One day of needing a break goes unfulfilled on top of another and another and before long you are wondering why did I want to work from home again?…If you don’t know the feeling, I will only say that it is soul wrenching and quite hard to recover from.  Add to that stress the fact that I LOVE this time of year for what it affords my family, and am usually eager to reopen the shop after Halloween because I am able to save money, fund Christmas, birthdays, and extracurricular sport activities, and get on top of things going into the new year with the revenue earned this time of year, (No time to crawl under a rock and nurse your wounds, I can tell you that!!) and one busy season easily flows right into the other.  And speaking of wounds, there have been plenty.  There was the one year I dropped my spring-loaded thread trimming scissors and in trying to catch them, I stabbed myself (deeply!) in the leg, the countless callouses on my not-so-dainty hands which I have given up ever getting rid of, the aches in my hips and back from sitting in a chair at the sewing machine for hours and hours every day, the broken needles popping off and ricochetting off my face….The concept of pouring your blood, sweat, and tears doesn’t just remain some distant cliché, but a promise here during Halloween and then again for Christmas business.  All is not dark in this tale though!  Of course I wouldn’t be in my fifth year if that was all there was to the story.  That is but a small part that I usually keep to myself and those closest around me.  This year, I am coming out on top, though!  With Mom and Josh’s help, it has felt like a different year.  Not to mention, unsurprisingly, the longer I do this, the easier it seems to get!

Now that I have revealed the ugly truth about this time of year, I will reveal something else too. IMG_4323 The counter story to this one.  The uplifting, gratifying, happy version.  The version where I get a picture from a customer, whose child has just tried on their costumes for the first time and they are glowing!  Or the review from a Mom who said her kid doesn’t want to take their costume off, or wanted to sleep in it every night!  The endless inspiration I get from customers is such a source of renewal and rejuvenation.  They come to me asking for what they think will be the craziest idea, but to me is a challenge that is like a bright light bursting through the clouds.  In my house we talk about “The Bucket”…That internal source of joy and happiness that can be filled or emptied by certain experiences.  My Dad always called it “The Internal Well” and it became a metaphor for self-care and guide for who to let into your life.  Does someone help fill your bucket, or drain it?  And the same goes for experiences.  I will make the distinction here that all my customers, all my orders, all my success fills my well.  Fills it so high!  The only draining part is the longevity of the process…The 16 hour days and aches and pains that go along with it.  I love ALL my customers so much and am so grateful to them all.  Having said that, I now say that there is a special place in my life for these custom order requests.  They fill the well in double measure and fuel so much of the creativity I draw on throughout the year.  It really is a blessing to have people come to me, to entrust their kids’ visions, dreams, and fantasies with me to make them a reality.  I changed The Tree House Kid slogan this year after having this thought to:  “THE TREE HOUSE KID, Turning Fantasies into Realities Since 2011!”  I know it’s a fitting one because I’ve looked at it for months and haven’t gotten tired of it yet, and I think it helps define TTHK pretty perfectly.  As a tribute to the end of Halloween Season 2015, coming out on top and in better and better shape every year, and to all my customers, big and small, old and young, custom and not custom alike, I share these with you now.  Enjoy your Haunting and Long Live ALL The Tree House Kids~~~

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Today’s Featured Item – Albino Alligator Mask and Tail Set

Today’s fIMG_1570eatured item came from a custom order request from a repeat customer who had already ordered a green crocodile mask and tail set.  This time the little boy wanted an albino alligator!  Apparently there is a famous one at the zoo near their home, and it had endeared itself to this little boy very much.  I love getting custom order requests because so often folks can come up with awesome ideas or color combinations that I might not think of myself.  It always provides fresh inspiration and leads to new creative outlets.  So I set to work thinking of this costume and how it would turn out…At first I was a little discouraged from the project because, well, how fun could it be to make an ALBINO alligator.  It’s all white, right?  Most of my costumes are full of over-reaching color and this one had me a little stumped at first.  But once I started pulling out my various shades of white, I started to see something very peaceful and unique emerging.  She wanted it made out of pure wool felt.  I LOVE working with wool felt and started offering it as an option in The Tree House Kid late last year after I had several customers request it.  I can make it out of Ecofelt as well, but this one in particular was built from pure wool felt.  I like for my animal costumes to carry some realistic features, so the first thing I do when I design an animal costume is look the animal up on Wikipedia or in my animal field guides.  I use a compilation of pictures to draw a sketch of the face, then a more refined version that can be reduced down to simple mask features.  I start with the eyes and build the mask around the eyes, which is ironic because it is the eyes that are empty in a mask, but also what MAKES it a mask.  I was really happy with the way this set turned out.  They liked it enough to get one for their son and a friend as well!  So out there somewhere, there are two little albino alligator buddies probably visiting this rare and precious animal in its habitat, hopefully learning more about the animal through the experience and of course, through their play.  Peace to each and every one of you on this evening.  IMG_1538

Today’s Featured Item – Dragon Knight Adventure Gear by The Tree House Kid

IMG_4859Today’s featured item is a mighty costume, not for the faint hearted!  Made for one who braves life and limb in pursuit of the mighty beasts of this world who wreak havoc on innocent villagers and peasants, defenseless stuffed animals and little brothers everywhere!  Forged in the depths of my tiny sewing room…I mean, the magical cave at the end of Goodwin’s Glen, these fantastic Ecofelt body armor pieces will surely give your little ones the strength to do the most epic battling of their wee little lives!  Their great big lives!  Their magnificent, beast defying lives!  Kids are at the heart of nearly everything I do.  They have inspired me since I was a kid…sounds weird, I know, but what I mean is that I was the 13-year-old who LOVED playing dress up with my 5-year-old little sister.  The one who volunteered to be the helper at the church nursery where my Dad was a choir director when I was a kid, just to be able to play with them all and be sure everybody had a friend.  IMG_4891The one who dreamed of having my own children when I was barely a freshman in college.  I always loved the little kids, the picked on kids, the friendless kids.  Actually, take that sentence and apply it to all people.  The little people, the picked on people, the friendless people.  I like them because they are usually the kindest and bravest people you’ll meet.  There is a quote that I read once that reminds me of these people, ” A shallow river makes noise.  A deep river says nothing.”  But every now and then we the littles rise up and feel brave and proud and make some noise!  Mythical and monstrous in our own right!  Mightier than we ever dreamed, and braver than we ever knew possible.  IMG_4792Seriously, though.  I love my costume business and as things are starting to shift into high gear for The Tree House Kid, I just wanted to share some of the inspiration with you.  Inside us all is a tiny person in need of a great big voice!  Give kids a voice early enough, teach them to always use it justly, and what marvelous things could happen!  I have heard from so many customers of mine who have told me their kids want to sleep in their costumes, or never take them off, or love them dearly.  Hearing things like this from customers all over this world are a gift I could never have imagined getting back in return for what I do.  I don’t know why I followed my thoughts down the path I did tonight with the whole “I love kids and always have” thing.  I am not even entirely sure it has anything to do with The Tree House Kid and ALL the adventure gear I make there, but I just couldn’t erase the sentence once it was out.  It’s all too true.  Too raw.  (Not to mention I am 100% sure that it is in fact very related…I mean, hello?!)  And a good friend who knows blogging told me that you really can’t be honest enough.  So there you have it.  Goodnight and now back to my magical sewing cave room.