Tag Archives: crafts

Crafting and Cocktails: Pimm’s Cups, Barnacles and Porcelain Pens

This was a crafty kind of weekend.  I tried a couple of artsy projects that have been on my radar for a while – with varying degrees of success – and also perfected the craft of making a superb Pimm’s Cup.  I want to share all three with you – the good, the so-so and the delicious.

Remember the paper clay barnacles I shared a couple months ago as a DIY I was dying to try?  Well I finally did, and it was FUN.  The full tutorial can be found over on Design Sponge, but I made a few discoveries and modifications along the way that worked for me.

barnacles 2

The original tutorial includes directions for making the paper clay mixture at home, but while the place we’re renting for the summer – used mostly as a vacation rental for visitors to wine country – is amply outfitted with martini shakers and wine glasses, it’s a little scant on actual cooking implements.  Even if there were a mixer here, I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable using it to mix glue and joint compound, so I was excited to find a ready-made mix at JoAnn Fabric that worked for this project.

This stuff is really easy both to make and to clean up after.  You mix the powder with water (they provide some measurements for different consistencies, but it’s pretty intuitive) in a ziplock bag and massage it around until it’s uniform.   It didn’t adhere easily to the  balloons, so I laid out a piece of plastic wrap and spread it out (below left) then just wrapped it up around the balloon and smoothed it with my fingers.

barnacle process

I really like how they turned out – I’m planning to put air plants in them when I’m back home – and the total cost was about $7 (for balloons and mix – I used a coupon) with lots of both left over.

barnacles 3

Barnacles have a special place in my heart.  In fact, they’re one of my favorite animals.  They may seem inanimate, but they are living some extraordinary lives out there in the ocean.  Their life history is a tangent I could wander down for ages, but I’ll just share a couple highlights.

Baby barnacles

That’s a nauplius on the left and a cyprid on the right. I took these pictures when I was in grad school and had access to all the lovely seawater and microscopes my heart desired.

Those are BABY barnacles!  Well, barnacle larvae.  They’re released into the ocean looking like the little critter on the left, where they drift around and eat before metamorphosing into the bean-shaped cutie (essentially a teenage barnacle) on the right.  Its job is to crawl around and find other, adult barnacles (by smelling for ’em) on rocks, docks, boats, whales – wherever they might be.  Then – and this is where it gets crazy – they secrete a cement out of their head, stick it to the rock, and build their shell around them.  They are doing a headstand for THEIR WHOLE LIVES and eating with their legs.  Seriously awesome.  Next time you’re at the ocean, belly up to a tidepool or the edge of a dock and watch their hairy little legs comb the water for food.  It’s mesmerizing.

Okay, back to crafting.  I had a less successful foray into the world of porcelain pens, though I’m going to blame user-error rather than the product itself.  I’ve been wanting to try these for a while and I ordered a black and a white one from Amazon.

porcelain pens

I picked up two plain vessels – a planter and a vase – at the thrift store for about 99 cents each.  The paint goes on quite thick (I found it was thicker with the black pen than with the white) and dries quickly, so it’s pretty easy to work your way around without smearing the part you’ve already done.  As it turns out, though, drawing straight lines on curved surfaces is HARD.  I might try a more free-form design next time, or  Cameron had some ideas for how to use our lathe to turn the pot so I could just hold the pen in one place to get a straight line.

painted vessels

Pimm’s Cups have been our drink of the summer, and I’m happy to share an easy recipe that we’ve perfected with plenty of practice.  These are refreshing, slightly herbal and not too sweet.   Just right for sipping in the backyard on a hot evening.

Pimm's Ingredients

I feel compelled to mention that we’ve been working on this bottle for over a month.


  • Pimm’s
  • Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer
  • Lemon
  • Cucumber
  • Ice

Muddle (smash) three slices of peeled cucumbers and a quarter of a lemon in the bottom of a glass

Muddled cukes and lemon

Add a two to one ratio of ginger ale to Pimm’s.  We put in 1/4 cup Pimm’s and 1/2 cup ginger ale.  Stir, then add ice and garnish with sliced cucumber and lemon.  Enjoy!

Pimm's Cup

Thanks for reading along!  Did anybody else do some weekend crafting?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

DIY Inspiration Vol. 3

Hey everybody, and welcome to DIY Friday volume 3!  One Friday a month we do a roundup of DIY projects from around the web that we’re dying to try.  You can check out previous DIY Friday posts, as well as some of our own DIY ventures, here.  Now for this month’s inspiration!

From Katie:

These yarn banners seem simple to make and are so pretty!  Since painting my dining room dark blue I’ve been thinking of art possibilities in there, and these would be a great way to bring in some color and texture.


I’m completely in love with all things Rifle Paper Co. and also in need of a wall clock, so this DIY from Henry Happened is really speaking my language.  I love that she painted the clock hands bright pink!



From Mera:

I like the idea of dream catchers, but visually they are not usually my favorite things.  This version, with it’s off-center inner circle and tidy embroidery thread dangles is so pretty and delicate, and I’m intrigued (I would probably omit the feathers).

My tassel love is evolving into a love of pom poms.  Plus, I have quite a few friends who are about to have babies, and I have a some baby-friendly pom pom projects floating around in my brain.  This looks like a great tutorial, and I think I’ll give it a go.

Have a great weekend everyone!  Katie will be back on Monday with a confession of sorts, so check back in with us then!


DIY Friday

One of the great things about blogging, with a weekly deadline and a commitment to our readers, is that we’ve been more likely to set aside time specifically for making things.  In the nearly two months since we started Red House West we’ve made some crafty projects, such as my bleach batik planter and re-imagined door chime and Katie’s hand-printed fabric and tasseled shower curtain.  The joy of making and sharing these projects has sent us back to our bookmarked archives to see what else we (or maybe you) might be inspired to create. We’re not abandoning Good Score (send ’em in, people!) but we’d like to make DIY Friday a semi-regular feature here at Red House West.  We’ll each share photos and links for DIY projects from around the web that get our creative gears turning.  Here we go!

From my DIY archives: I have a vague idea for creating a canopy over Opal’s bed once she transitions out of her crib and into her “big girl bed.”  In my mind it’s very Bohemian-Granny, and vintage embroidery bunting has a starring role.  See the post here: See the post here.

I’ve been seeing a lot of Shibori dying lately.  I love indigo, and the tie-dye patterns speak to my hippie heart circa 1992.  I’m thinking pillow cases: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From Katie: It has been years and years since I’ve attempted creative painting like this, but I’m really inspired to try making a painted tablecloth like this one from Oh Happy Day.  The loose, abstract pattern seems doable, and I can imagine it in my favorite shades of blue and teal. Painted Floral Tablecloth from Oh Happy DayPainted Floral Tablecloth from Oh Happy Day 2

My recent foray into the world of concrete made me recall HomeMade Modern’s tutorial for a concrete-topped little stool and I’m thinking maybe now I’m brave enough to try it.  It reminds me of the cute Serena & Lily stool in Mera’s bathroom and it’s hard to beat the $5 project cost! bucket stool from Homemade Modern

And finally, I’ve had this paper clay barnacle tutorial from Design Sponge on my mind for a while.  They’d be darling with little air plants in them or for holding rings, and they appeal perfectly to my marine scientist’s heart. Paper Clay Barnacle DIY from Design Sponge Are you planning to tackle any DIY projects over the long weekend?  We’d love to hear about them! Check back in with us on Monday when Mera gives us the forecast for her breakfast nook.  TGIF!

********** UPDATE**********

Since writing this post, we have tried out a couple of these DIYs!  Check out Mera’s post on Shibori dyeing here, and Katie’s posts on making a shibori lampshade here and making paper clay barnacles here.