Easy Nose Wire Hack

Who knew? Old lady hair pins with coated tips are ideal for adding a removable nose wire to fabric masks for the exact same reason the idea was rejected. They’re too thin to sew in… you can wiggle it out between the threads of your stitching.

Yes, just wiggle it in between the threads of the edge seam ye a couple inches down from the center of the top, slide it on up where you want it, and bend it as desired. What’s cool is those wiggles on the pin landed ye about where I usually bend and the top stitching works like a little casing to hold it in there until you are ready to wiggle it back out without breaking a thread.

I only tried the “thin” pins… there are usually two bundles of pins per package, with one bundle of pins being thinner than the other. You can find them in most any store that sells hair products. A pack of 100 only costs about a dollar.

This will work great on the lightweight reversible “Casual” and “Summer Masks” that I sewed without nose wires, mainly because both styles are shaped so a nose wire really isn’t needed but, some people still want a nose wire.

Oh… my little online mask store is open! Here’s a link if you want to check it out: https://mice4mars.square.site/

It’s a free version “weebly” store from Square… of course, all the features I want require upgrading to the pricey mid-level of their monthly rate plans. I’m sticking with the free for now because mask sales are as temporary as this virus and I do not anticipate art sales to be high enough to justify the cost… opted not on the custom domain thing, too.

The downside is no product pages. If they’re there, I’m not seeing them. Testing shows me a popup with a bad crop of the first photo and NO way to see or even know that more photos exist. So, it was like okay… forget posting variations in one listing, create an individual post for each pattern variation and GIMP those “first” photos that do show up so peeps can see the back or lining color. It does have a Messenger chat thing, so someone could ask questions or arrange for local pickup, whatever. That’s cool.

A major perk is my items are not held hostage for potential fees (sites like eBay forbid selling listed items elsewhere) so if someone wants to buy in person instead of online, all they have to do is let me know and I can pull it off the site (so no one else comes along and buys it). Same goes if they want to buy via email with a PayPal invoice.

That’s another downside, or should I say “incentive” to jump to middle tier on the pricing plans. You have to upgrade to add PayPal as an on-site payment method. Thinking you have to upgrade for integrated shipping (ability to print shipping labels on-site) so I would definitely upgrade if sales warranted… until then, good ol’ USPS website for labels, eh?

Well, that’s my thoughts on the free version of weebly right now… of course, it’s not totally free. Square charges ye the same fees as PayPal for processing payments. If you want, check out my store and share your thoughts.

The denim/batik mask shown in photos is one I made for myself. Here’s the main photo again because I’m going to share this to my Facebook page and it always shows the last photo… yeah, gotta wiggle around all this tech stuff. Thanks for reading!

Fabulous Batiks (and real pipe cleaners)

I have to show & tell, even though they’re gone… maybe I should show the next batch here before posting on Facebook? Anyways, I had the pleasure of sewing masks from batik fabrics that a friend ordered from Amazon in a stack of fat eighths. Here are a few that were photographed before finishing with strap or ear loops.

The last photo shows how I improved my pattern to create a better casing to slide in elastic ear loops or a shoestring strap (not sewn in, so can switch up later, replace the elastic or whatever). All have a non-woven layer inside (featherweight Pellon) and a pipe cleaner nose wire. A real one… not the cheap kind that melt when ironed.

Hey, it has to feel good, too.

Here’s what I use… shown on top of Autumn Leaves fabric (with unbleached muslin lining) cut to make a pleated flat with a hidden pocket for my sister Jai up in Michigan.

If you want to see what Autumn Leaves looks like finished (or other masks available for purchase), here’s a link to the masks4sale page. Thanks for reading!

Buggies

Couldn’t help but smile while sewing a stack of fun buggies… they will be finished to order with the buyer’s choice of ear loops or a shoestring strap.

Yes, I altered the sewing method by not sewing the sides, then added casings after turning and stitching the pleats. Not only is my machine much happier (less layers to try to stitch through), but those casings makes it so ear loops can be replaced, if need be. I love the “new” elastic, too! It looks nicer and feels better, plus ties nicely into square knots that can hidden inside the casing instead of sewn-in, so those knots can be re-tied for a custom fit.

Now that I actually LIKE making pleated masks, I shall sew more… maybe next time, I’ll add pockets. Do people actually use them, or do they just like the idea of having a pocket?

NOTE: fabric was cut into 7 x 9 inch rectangles (or 5 x 7 for child size) and finished ye a half inch wider with the casings. The nose wire is a 6 inch plush cotton pipe cleaner (a real one, not the decorative kind for kiddie crafts) so it will not melt if you iron over it. More photos of the Buggies are on the masks4sale page, if you want to see what each looks like with the pleats opened. Hopefully, they will have you smiling, too!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Gold Swirl Mask

Elegant evening masks in gold swirled cotton wasn’t even on the back burner while sewing dozens of masks in children’s sizes as “going out” is not on my “to do” list. Batiks are my chili pot on simmer. I ordered lining fabric that will, hopefully, match the tropical colors.

Am I the only one who gets excited to see a FedEx or UPS truck pull up?

I’ve ordered so much stuff it’s like getting mystery packages. What will it be today? Elastic? White thread? A llama? Oh, it feels like fabric! I rip the bag open like a kid on Christmas to unwrap a pair of velvety leopard print pants. (Hey, I just discovered Jeggings. My kid gifted me a pair so comfortable that I hit online clearance racks to buy more.) The leopard print is black velvet spots on black, suitable for wintry holidays.

I made the gold swirl masks because a friend who had seen the fabric was tired of waiting… he wanted two “by tomorrow” so okay, I’m out of white thread anyway, may as well switch to black and sew a few while waiting.

The photo here shows the flat, pleated style. I also made the fitted style and they’re both “Strap-able” which is why the elastic for ear loops is not sewn in. You can also re-tie the knot to adjust the length for a custom fit, then hide the knot inside the casing. Personally, I prefer a strap… just one long strap, so it only has to be tied once. There is a photo of the fitted mask with a strap on the new “mask4sale” page (link on top).

Oh, mail’s here… two more packages! YES! Spool of nice elastic and a light bulb. I’m replacing a burnt out incandescent with one of those new LED types bulbs so I’m crossing fingers, hope it fits. Eh, drats… so much for that. It fits okay, same size socket, but it does NOT work in my old sewing machine. Anyone local need a light bulb? This one is a llama. Thanks for reading!

Sourcing Fabrics

Well, tickle me pink… there are small quilt shops selling cottons by odd bits and half yards on eBay AND they ship so much faster than the well known fabric and big box stores.

I got frustrated trying to buy fabric online. I thought I could do curbside pick-up during state shutdown orders, but darn near everything I clicked on was not available at my local fabric store and then, after narrowing choices down by viewing only “ship to home” options, everything I liked required a minimum purchase of two or four yards. So much for being able to select a nice variety. That also makes costs a little steep at 9 to 14 per yard, but they had quilt fabrics marked down to 5 or 6 a yard so I selected a few anyway. Unfortunately, other shoppers were also shopping the same sales so several items were sold out before I could check out and then, after I paid, two of my four purchased fabrics were cancelled via email as an oops, sorry, out of stock… bump hours wasted trying to buy fabrics, so I went looking on eBay. Of course, the stores may have opened by now but I’m high risk (old, disabled) so I’m not going anywhere.

I’m still waiting for all the thread and fabric purchased from Joann to arrive. I’m also waiting on elastic ordered from Walmart, too. In the meanwhile, I’m sewing up the eBay fabrics… which, of course, I washed to pre-shrink the cotton before cutting. Birdies first, because we can use some baby blue birds of happiness.

Yes, I’m making masks for children… plan is to donate a nice assortment to a local organization, then sell off the rest to offset cost. It is a simple mask, just two layers of fabric, no nose wire or anything inside. I’m making 3 sizes: tot (age 3+), child, and adult.

Needless to say, fabric masks are not PPE and tot size is not for babies.

If anyone wants the pattern, drop me a note here or PM on Facebook. I drew it up for my sister and saved it as a PDF because her company had fabric masks made for the guys out in the shop using the pattern posted on the CDC website (two layers of fabric sewn in a flat rectangle gathered by two very short, sewn-in elastic ear loops). This mask is also just two layers of fabric, but it is shaped to be more comfortable to wear.

I used to know how to insert a PDF into a post… if I figure it out again, I’ll update this.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

My Aura

I absolutely LOVE my new phone case. Yes, that’s my art… I uploaded an image of “My Aura” painting at Zazzle, dropped it into a Galaxy s10 template, added some text, and wha-la… cost less than 10 bones, too!

Yes, I put an email addy on it so if my phone is ever lost and found by a kind soul, they could easily contact me to return it. Sounds delusional, eh? But, this is Youngstown so it could happen. I once accidentally dropped a hand quilted tote bag on a sidewalk in a high foot traffic area, thought it was gone forever, but some kind soul had found it and neatly laid up on a little stone wall so I could find it on my way home. Dozens, if not 100 people had walked past it. I’ve seen people drop money and a total stranger running to catch up with them just to give it back. That’s the Youngstown I know, so it could happen.

Here’s the image of “My Aura” submitted with my entries to a juried show scheduled for this summer that may or may not be cancelled.

I entered four pieces, but My Aura is by far my favorite. It’s a “self pour-trait” to play on words… and, a little secret, it’s on a recycled 12 x 24 canvas. Yeah, I painted over another painting, which ironically, was also a self portrait. Maybe that’s why I like it so much… “My Aura” covered a grim painting of a girl swimming with the fishes. Yeah, I painted myself drowned and called it “Self Portrait: Married” in 1996 so I would always remember how it feels to be in a bad situation. I don’t need it anymore.

My Aura is framed in black wood. I cropped the photo as you’re not supposed to include the framing when submitting art to juried shows. I wish I had the new phone before snapping that photo as the camera on the s10 is so much better.

If you want to customize a “My Aura” phone case for yourself (or design your own) here’s a link and, if you’re new to Zazzle, use my referral code so we both get perks.

Thanks for reading!

Of Mice and Masks

Preview in the works… I joined the ranks of mask makers, mostly for family and friends here in Youngstown, Ohio. Then requests started rolling in from their family and friends… how much for a mask? Can you drop it off? Will you mail it? Can I see your designs? Got any photos?

Well, no, not yet… just got a bin of bagged up masks.

So, photographing masks is on my “to do” list. Then I’ll I need a place to post them, somewhere to tell people to go look, so it may as well be here. I’m seriously thinking of upgrading this blog to something “ad-free” soon, too.

Should I give fair notice for people who don’t know me?

Straight up, I’m a disabled non-driver, blind in one eye, dim in the other, and sew slow as molasses. What I post as available is what is available (already sewed & bagged). If you are looking for perfection, custom orders, or mass production, I am not the one to ask. I also smoke like a chimney and live with two cats. Thus said, follow along if you want to see my creations.

I only make two styles now, the Strap-Able and Casual Compliance.

Strap-Able Masks are the only masks I like to wear because it doesn’t ride too close to my eyes, the nose wire helps to keep my glasses from steaming up, and I can talk without fabric touching my lips. They’re also made with a non-woven layer inside (no pocket) so you don’t have to stuff it with anything.

The best feature of the Strap-Able Mask is the elastic is NOT sewn in… you can replace the elastic with a strap. And, if you like elastic ear loops, you can adjust the length for a custom fit. How cool is that?

Here’s a photo showing how to wear a Strap-Able Mask with just one strap.

The girl with the gorgeous eyes is my 11 year old granddaughter. In the next photo, she’s wearing a “Casual Compliance” mask (which was gifted to her).

Casual Compliance Masks meet the bare min. requirements for fabric face masks… no nose wire, no pocket, just two layers of fabric but in a shaped design that is more comfy for people who can’t stand fabric touching their lips or eyes.

Experimental Masks are other styles and variations sewn while trying out different patterns and methods of mask making. You’ll see those when I start posting photos.

Well, guess I should get busy… thanks for reading!

Sunday Pour

They’re still wet… I was going for a marble effect via pour on purchased wooden cross plaques. Both used the same color mixes, but not in the same ratios. One cross has more white and silver and the other has more delft blue. Making two to gift one to a friend… not sure which one he will choose.

I did a little test drizzle on paper first and decided to omit the lighter blue because adding a liquid white to delft blue from an old little tube was a bad mix that just didn’t want to stir up completely smooth. I don’t know if you can tell from this next photo, but there’s like a zillion little micro lumps in that little cup of lighter blue.

Colors from top: silver, white, black, 2 cups of delft blue, and a bad mix of delft blue and white.

Mixing up paint for pouring is, when you stop and think about it, pretty much just a little home chemistry experiment. Just poured or drizzled over each other resulted in a few micro lumps, more evident when dry. Not a lot, just enough to add a little texture, if considered a happy accident. I’m thinking of buying a bottle of that gloss top coat, the type you pour on… that might give it a smooth surface. I’m going to order online because that stuff is like $20 locally for a 16 oz. bottle… cheaper at Dick Blick. Here’s what the crosses look dry, without a clear coat. I do like the way the blues came out darker.

A part of me can’t help but ask myself: why am I playing home chemistry with acrylic paints, mixing stuff up and adding drops of oils and all that? Why not just play with resins? Or, try some alcohol inks?

Inks might be interesting… never tried alcohol inks, used to draw with inks like 20 or 30 years ago… maybe I should buy some watercolor paint? I’ve got plenty of pencils, don’t really feel into colored pencils right now… brushes? Do I need a new brush? Do I have enough art papers?

Okay, am I the only one who goes through this “what do I need” thing just to rack the total up high enough to qualify for free shipping when ordering online?

What I need is a couple good sized or several smaller glass mirrors, cracked or broken would be perfect because I’m going to cut them up into mosaic tiles. The only requirement is they need to be ye about the same thickness as stained glass or it will be a royal pain rising one or the other (can do it, just work upside down). The obelisk project is on hold until I find some old mirrors. I thought I had a box of mirror shards, but guess that’s long gone, maybe given away on a move years ago. I could buy a couple glass door mirrors, that would do, but buying new kind of defeats the recycle aspect.

So, words on the wind… if anyone local has any old mirrors they’re willing to part with, drop me a note or message me on Facebook. Thank you!.

One Cat Pass

One Cat Pass, 9 x 12 inches, colored pencil on heavy paper, 2016.

Since this is the first post on an art blog called mice4mars, I should explain the name… Mice for Mars, who is Mars?

Mars was Mr. Marsberry Cat, who passed in 2016 at the ripe old age of 18. He was a house cat, a studio cat, who thought he was my guardian. He spent many a day curled up at my feet while I was zoned into making art.

After he died, I told myself that’s it, no more cats… I’m too old for pets, don’t have another 18 years left in me to take in another cat. So what am I doing now? Feeding feral cats. The first was KiKi.

Oh, I tried to adopt her after a neighbor gave me a sad-sob story about a poor abandoned and abused little kitty, a female gath ddu (black cat). I agreed to take her, sight unseen… yeah, that poor little kitty turned out to be a 20 pound alpha female, the local Queen of Cats. She absolutely hated being trapped indoors. After a week, I let her go… then we developed a relationship on her terms. All she wants from me is food and fresh water, enough set outside for her and her feral friends. Even when temps dropped below zero, I could not lure her in so my neighbor set her up with an outdoor shelter. I know KiKi’s the alpha female because I watched how other cats behave around her. She controls who eats here and which strays are allowed to cross my yard.

Then came Max, as in Maxwell Storm. I adopted him when a young girl knocked on my door with a gray tiger kitten in her arms. Would I please take her Stormy, their landlord said he had to go… should say that I took him in and KiKi adopted Max as she started coming into the house just to mother on him. I call her Mama now. And Max? He answers to Baby Boo.

So, I officially have ONE cat (Max) and feed the Queen, who allows select feral cats to share her dishes. They come in the night. Most totally avoid humans, so I rarely see them. Ye gads, Mars passed and I’ve become a cat lady.

Thanks for reading!