DIY Exotic Bird Halloween Costumes

By October 14, 2014 DIY, Photography

Pheonix_Details

We’re so excited to finally share this DIY! We made these costumes for Halloween last year (before our blog was even born). After much deliberation on finding a costume that would be both creative and original, we came up with the idea to be exotic birds. Our group decided to be a swan, a blue macaw, a flamingo, and a phoenix (worn above by our friend Liz). For the costumes, we DIYed masks and wings and just wore clothes that matched the colors of our birds. We went to Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric, and the Dollar Store to gather our supplies. If you use these sources, along with existing clothes, you can definitely make this costume on a budget.

our_masks

Mask_Supplies2

Mask Supplies:
-mask
-elastic string
-glitter
-feathers
-Mod Podge
-pencil
-paint brushes
 
We started by looking up pictures of our birds. After getting familiar with your bird, draw a simplified version of it’s face onto the mask with a pencil. Try focusing on the distinctive features, like stripes or colors. Then apply the Mod Podge with a paintbrush onto the masks where you want a single color of glitter. Pour the glitter on the Mod Podged area, tap the mask against the table to remove excess glitter, allow to dry fully, and repeat for each area of color. You can always touch up with a fine paintbrush and glitter or your fingers afterwards.
Mask_Modgepodge1

Mask_Glitter_Pour

Mask_Modgepodge

Mask_Glitter

Mask_Detail2

After the mask is covered in glitter and dry, it is time to add the feathers. We found our “feathers” at Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabric (we bought them as they appear in the photos, these are not made out of loose feathers). Use a hot glue gun to attach them to the masks. The black swan feathers are attached to the inside of the mask while the blue macaw feathers are attached to the front. Finally, cut elastic to the size of your head and tie it to the small holes on the edge of the masks to make them wearable.

masks_row

wings

Wings Supplies:
-4 boas
-wings
-hot glue gun
 
We picked up wings and boas from the Dollar Store. We highly recommend buying these things here – boas and wings can be super overpriced from your average party or costume store. Wrap a boa around each of the 4 sections of the wings. One person can hold the boa in place, while another person uses a glue gun to adhere it to the wings. After we had the majority of the boa attached we would selectively glue spots with extra feathers to cover what was bare.
 
These costumes were surprisingly easy to make and we were very happy with the outcome. Here are some pictures from our night!

Masks_Table2

Masks_Table

Group

Birds
We hope you all have a fun Halloween!
 

Hello October

By October 1, 2014 Photography

Happy fall, friends! Here in Virginia, we’re in that funny in-between stage where it’s 50 degrees some days and 75 degrees others. Despite the varying temperature, we’ve been admiring the colorful trees that have started to show off. We’re both making an effort to spend more time outside and take more pictures this fall. The second photo was even featured on Poppytalk’s Fall Colours Instagram challenge!

Squash

Converse and leaves

Apples

Blacksburg Town Hall

Boots and leaves

Bikes

Fall sunset

DIY Ombré Vegetable Dyed Fabrics

By September 26, 2014 Decor, DIY

Fabrics Group Close Up

We have been super interested in vegetable dyeing fabrics for quite a while. Since the warm days are fleeting, we decided now was the time to try this project. This one is definitely longer and more involved than the other projects we’ve done, but it’s totally exciting and worth it. Before we started, we did a lot of research to decide how we wanted to approach this DIY. We found Free People and WikiHow to be particularly helpful. We used beets and red onions to get a lovely magenta color and turmeric for a golden yellow. Let’s get started!

 

Supplies
-62 oz white vinegar
-water
-3 red beets
-2 red onion peels
-1/8 cup turmeric
-strainer
-cheese cloth
-2 large quart sized tupperware
-fabrics for dyeing (we used these tea towels)
-3 very large kitchen pots
-2 large bins for dyeing
-hangers with clips (1 for each piece of fabric you dye)
-a place to hang the fabrics as they dry – they will be dripping! A small tree outside would work well.

 

Dyes on Stove

Beets and Onions

1. Chop your beets, peel your onions (you want to keep just the outermost layer of dry, colorful purple skin), measure out the turmeric. In one pot, bring 1/8 cup turmeric and 4 cups water to a boil. In another large pot, place the beets and onion skins in 4 cups water. This should be a 2 to 1 ratio of water to veggies. Bring both pots to a boil, let simmer for one hour.
2. Simultaneously, in your last large pot, place 2 cups vinegar, 8 cups water, and your fabric. Bring this mixture to a boil and let simmer for one hour. Rinse the fabrics in cold water and set aside.
3. Allow the dyes to cool a bit, pour the beet dye through a strainer and into the tupperware, discarding the beets and onion skins. Pour the turmeric dye through a cheese cloth and into the tupperware to remove the powder. *We did not have a cheese cloth so we skipped this step. It just means your fabrics will have a bit more residue that you will need to wash off later.
4. Let the dyes sit overnight in the refrigerator to achieve a more vibrant color.

 

Dyes

Wringing out Fabric

5. Find a large area to work where you won’t be worried about mess. If you have a yard, that would be a great place. We used Katherine’s balcony.
6. Pour the dyes into your large bins. The bigger your bin, the easier it will be to get straight lines when dipping the fabric.
7. Based on the size of your bins, fold your first piece of fabric in half or thirds lenghthwise, and clip it onto a hanger. You should be able to lay the fabric completely flat in the bin, without scrunching it up. The fabric should be wet before placing it in dye.

Pink Dipped Bottom

8. Slowly dip your fabric into the bin, leaving as much white as you want untouched. We chose to leave about 1/4 of the tea towel white. When you feel you have enough of the fabric submerged in the dye, use your finger to gently press along the fabric, creating an even line across the whole fabric for the start of your ombré. Don’t worry, the fabric will bleed and this will still make a very subtle transition. As you dip it in, allow the fabric to fold in the bin so you maintain control and prevent bunching.

Orange Fabric Technique

9. Here comes the fun part! You can sit or stand, but you will need to slowly dip the fabric up and down to create the natural ombré look, without having stark lines separating the areas of color. Start by slowly dipping almost all the way to the top line of dye, repeat this one or two times. Next, start dipping to the middle of the fabric. Spend at least 5+ minutes dipping here (lifting up and down, slowly submerging the fabric). Move on to just dipping in the bottom portion. Spend at least 5+ minutes dipping this section. Each time you dip, the fabric will hit in a slightly different spot, creating a seamless gradient of color.

10. When you finish, hang the fabric to dry. It will be dripping! Repeat this process with each of your fabrics.

Orange Dipping Close Up

Orange Fabric Full

Pink Dipping Hands

Orange Close Up

11. When you’re finished dyeing and your fabrics have dried, you can soak them in vinegar and salt to continue the setting process.

12. After they have set for another few hours, rinse them in cold water and line dry. In the future, your fabrics can be washed with cold water and mild soap, and dried in the dryer.

Fabrics Group Overhead

Fabrics Folded

Fabrics Hanging

Yellow on Chair

All in all, we really enjoyed experimenting with vegetable dyes. You could make absolutely anything from napkins, place-mats, clothes and tea towels to wall hangings. Both the onion beet mixture and the turmeric dye make incredibly vibrant and beautiful colors! While they certainly look gorgeous at first, certain dyes hold up better than others. We found the beet dye washed out to create a very dusty rose color (much different than the magenta it started as), but the turmeric maintained its vibrant gold even after washing. These may not hold up as well over time as chemical dyes. Good luck!

Tomato Cucumber Salad

By September 19, 2014 Food

In Blacksburg, Va, we are lucky enough to enjoy our local farmers market twice weekly, year-round. I’ve found that Wednesday is the perfect day for me to stop by on my walk home from class. On my last visit, I picked up some beautiful heirloom tomatoes, a bag of spinach, two pears, and one very large cucumber.

Farmers market finds

I was most excited to make something with my heirloom tomatoes. Farmers have grown heirloom tomatoes for generations, predating the use of modern genetic breeding to develop tomatoes with disease resistance and uniformity. Many consider heirloom tomatoes to appear more natural and to have a better flavor.
 
I decided that instead of making a Caprese salad, my usual tomato side dish, I would switch things up and make a light, refreshing tomato cucumber salad.

Tomato stack

Heirloom tomatoes

First, I cut the tomatoes into wedges, sliced the cucumber, and diced one quarter of red onion. Then I tore apart two sprigs of basil and added about 1/2 cup of feta. For the dressing, I combined extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar. Finally, I seasoned with salt and pepper.

Tomato cucumber salad

Salad close-up

It hit the spot! I guess you can’t go wrong when you’re simply tossing a salad. Have any favorite tomato dishes you’d like to share?
-Katherine

10 Best Websites for Designers

By September 15, 2014 Design

Code Academy

We’ve compiled a handy list of our go-to resources for when we’re working on a project and need to learn a new skill or just get a little inspiration. We have found these websites really helpful and hope you do too. Please comment if you have a favorite or if there are any others that you’d like to share!
 

1. Code Academy

Whether you’re a beginner or just want to expand your skills, Code Academy is a wonderful resource for learning web development. Code Academy’s approach is task-based and interactive. It includes a written lesson followed by a short assignment that you complete and submit on their platform. It’s simple to use and gives helpful feedback along the way.

 

2. Aquent Gymnasium

Aquent Gymnasium is another free resource to use when learning to code. Aquent was created with designers in mind, so the lessons are relatable and easy to understand. Once you take a quick quiz proving you are in fact a designer, you can access their video lessons where the instructor gives a tutorial and you work through it on your own.

 

3. Freestyle

Have you ever heard of Twitter Bootstrap? Well, Freestyle is just like that, but for native apps. If you’re not familiar, Freestyle is a simple framework using CSS that designers and developers can use to build native apps for both iOS and Android.

 

4. Cloud.typography

Hoefler & Co., the makers of Gotham and many other beloved fonts, have developed another webfont solution for design professionals. Cloud.typography is the online library of all 900+ of their fonts, including their new ScreenSmart collection. Like Google Fonts, Cloud.typography will allow you to link their fonts to your webpage through CSS. They offer five free fonts when you sign up, but the service is subscription based.

 

5. Pttrns

Pttrns is our go-to site when looking for inspiration for mobile user interface design. Browsing through the patterns is a good way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends for mobile design.

 

6. PatternTap

Like Pttrns, PatternTap has a large library that can spark creativity. What’s nice about the website is you can filter which platform you want to look at, as well as the type and style.

 

7. Really Good Emails

Really Good Emails is a great source for email design inspiration. Having to work on email design over the summer, we have a new appreciation for this overlooked form of communication. You will never look at your emails the same way again!

 

8. Designspiration

This website covers all design mediums! This is our go-to for everything from logos to layouts. You can easily spend hours browsing through their archives. Though we certainly love Pinterest, Designspiration is a nice alternative when working on a project, because everything submitted is carefully reviewed by administrators.

 

9. Who Pays Artists?

This is a valuable resource for designers and artists who do freelance work. The website allows you to enter some basic information about the job you’ve completed and how much you were compensated. This is handy if you’re unsure about how much to charge or if you just want to get a little more information about competitive pay rates. This totally breaks down the barriers and gives you the facts.

 

10. Social Good Ipsum

“Smart dummy copy for people who give a damn.” There are loads of these Lorum Ipsum generators out there, but this one gives you filler text that’s focused on social justice. It’s a sneaky way to have a little extra fun with your comps and also save the world.

Guest Post: Sarah Sundberg’s Bedroom Tour

By September 5, 2014 Decor, Photography

Hello, everyone! My name is Sarah. I met Tara and Katherine three years ago in our Intro to Drawing class and have been friends ever since! As a fellow graphic design major, I see the two of them pretty much everyday. We love to bond over both the stresses and pleasures that accompany our lives as graphic designers. I have followed their blog since the beginning and love it! I am really excited to see where it goes, and to make my debut on The Mountain Creative. Today I’m sharing my bedroom with you.

Bed

Dressernook

corkboard

Bookshelf

Above Night Stand

Bowl

In the little free time I have, I follow blogs. The blogs that inspire me most are ones that feature all-white rooms. Decorating in this style has always been a struggle for me because I am a collector (a nicer way to say hoarder), so I have a huge selection of things to hang up and string throughout my room. The clutter became overwhelming. When I moved into my new apartment, I decided to decorate a bit differently- this room would be white. White comforter, white walls, white furniture.
 
White everything.
 
I finally obtained the type of space I admire on the blogs I follow. I feel at peace here. The white makes me feel clean and refreshed after a long day’s work. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my treasures scattered about my room, but only for small splashes of color. There is no better feeling than to lie down and see the moon peeking through my lace curtains. Perhaps the only exception is waking up to the curtains fluttering in the morning breeze, illuminating my very own white room.
 
xxoo,
Sarah

Sarah
Here’s the three of us studying abroad in Ostia Antica, Italy | June 2013
 

'