life, the universe, and everything

Make your home smell pretty 14 December 2008

Filed under: crafts — creativecat @ 11:52 am

With three cats, sometimes my house can seem like there’s the faint aroma of cat litter lingering in the air.* Not the best scent. I’ve tried many methods of enhancing my home’s scent: scented candles, incense, plug-ins air-fresheners, ceramic light bulb rings, placing scented dryer sheets in my vents, simmering potpourri and oils . . . all work to a certain degree.

None work nearly as well as reed diffusers. I’d heard about them before but didn’t want to pay $20 for something that I couldn’t smell before purchasing. So when I found one for $5, I figured it was worth trying. Within a half hour, my house smelled amazing! I’m definitely a convert. I still love candles for atmosphere but will stick with unscented from now on.

After discovering the wonder that is the reed diffuser, I thought, how can I make my own? I want something that works as well as this diffuser yet looks more interesting than a boring clear glass bottle. Can I use any kind of bottle? What kind of fragrance do I use? Do I have to use reeds?

I wandered upon and learned quite a bit–all of which I’m taking with a grain of salt considering they make their money selling reed diffusers. They claim that you can’t make your own scents but others have tried with varying levels of success. Personally, I’m not a chemist and am happy to buy ready-to-use fragrances. I experimented once with making my own perfume with maple leaves and it just ended up smelling like dirt.

I found a very limited selection of colored reeds: natural, black, red, blue and green. I will try using candle dyes and food coloring to color the oil and reeds. Yes, you must use reeds and not bamboo or wood. The reeds work because of their natural make-up: little bitsy straws running up and down them–kind of like celery. Bamboo and wood may be cheaper but don’t have the same properties. They won’t suck up the fragrance and diffuse it around the room like the reeds. Reeds should be at least twice the height of the bottle they’re in and can be cut to size. About once a week, flip the reeds so the end that was exposed to the air is now in the oil. It’s best not to reuse the reeds because the old scent will still linger in their straws–unless you want to combine the scents.

The best kind of bottle to use is one with a narrow neck so the oil doesn’t evaporate in the air but through the reeds. Although if you have a bottle you’d like to use with a larger neck, a lid with holes big enough for the reeds to fit in would work as well. The best materials for your bottle are glass and glazed ceramic. Unglazed ceramic will suck up the scent so it’s best to make sure even the inside of the bottle has been glazed. You could add little marbles or stones to the inside of the bottle or maybe some complementary herbs or dried flowers.

*Side note: Different cat litters work better than others for covering up litter-box smells. However, many cats are picky about what kind of litter they like. Unfortunately for me, my cats prefer just the plain old clay litter. Pine litter is great for masking smells–but only if your cats like it.


Less is more 18 July 2008

Filed under: personal — creativecat @ 9:47 pm
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I feel like the more free time I have, the less I get done. I can always say, “I’ll do that later” since I know I’ll have time later. When I’m busy, things get done because I don’t know if I’ll have time later. So since I started a new job this week, I’ve done a lot of cleaning and organizing that I’ve ignored for a while. There’s empty surfaces that were covered in clutter just a few days ago! My kitchen sparkles!

When you’re busy, you’re constantly going. That momentum keeps you getting stuff done. It’s the stopping to take a break that kills my motivation. My best days at work are the ones where I look at the clock and think: “Wow, 3 hours have gone by already?” Even when I come home after a long day at work, I’m still in the mindset to get a lot accomplished.


Modern day treasure hunting! 9 July 2008

Filed under: art,crafts,design — creativecat @ 12:52 pm
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hand carved cat

hand carved cat

hand carved bat

hand carved bat

One of the coolest things I heard about recently is letterboxing. It combines my love of craft with my desire to explore. It’s virtually free and gets you some exercise. What more could you ask for in a hobby?

The main thing you need to get started as a letterboxer is your own stamp to mark what boxes you’ve found. As an artist and designer, I just couldn’t use a pre-made stamp. My stamp needed to be unique. Of course, I had never carved a stamp before. I’ve been painting, drawing, and collaging for years so why not try something new? There’s somewhat of a learning curve with carving but the technique is very similar to scratchboard. After doing some practice stamps (can you tell which stamp I did first?), I have some ideas on how to perfect the process. Since it’s best to glue the rubber stamp material to a block of wood for clearer prints, I think cutting out the larger shapes and gluing those to the wood directly would save time. And give the stamp a more polished look.

Once you have a stamp (and stamp pad), a “trail name” and a blank book to record your adventures (and knowing me I’ll want to make my own book too!), you’re ready to start letterboxing! Look for clues to find letterboxes near you at and There’s bound to be plenty within walking distance of your house. When you find the box, mark the box’s book with your stamp and trail name and mark your book with the box’s stamp.

If you want to take it further, create your own box. Put a stamp, stamp pad and small book in a box and post your clues on one of the letterboxing sites.


Good clean fun 7 July 2008

Filed under: crafts,design — creativecat @ 10:42 am
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felting process

felting process

felt soap

felt soap

felt beads

felt beads

Felting is a lot of fun. It’s so satisfying to create beads and nice soaps out of wool. Using a felting needle for the whole process leads to poking your fingers until they bleed. Wet felting doesn’t let you get as detailed. So I combined the techniques. I start by dry felting to get the design started. Then I use a little soap and a lot of hot water to really get the felt going quickly. Gloves help so I don’t dry my hands out.

Felted soap is especially great because you don’t need to ADD soap to the process. And the soap continues to felt as you use it. The end result is a nice light exfoliating soap.


Playing around with shrinky dinks 5 July 2008

Filed under: art,crafts,design — creativecat @ 1:31 pm
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I’ve been having fun experimenting with shrinky dinks: sketching with colored pencils and sharpies and painting with acrylics. I’m pretty happy with how these turned out considering I was just playing around. I think if I do a little planning/sketching first, I may be able to sell illustrated earrings, pendants and key rings.