DIY Bookshelf

If you’re like me and you have a habit of occasionally reading and getting angry, as most people do, you’ll know that “bookcases” sold in stores exist only for storing a small pot of flowers and a couple CDs. Trying to store actual books on them is an absurd idea, as you will no doubt see here.

Sonofabitch!!

Sonofabitch!!

It is almost always true that the older something is, the more it was built to last. So vintage or antique bookcases are always superior, and often more beautiful,  but not always affordable. It may also happen that the place in which you’d like to store your books is not ideal for a bookcase. So this, Strangers, is why I built my own, and why you should consider doing so too.

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First of all, this shelf is built right into the wall, instead of being a standalone book case. So to give it a more “complete” look as opposed to something just floating (which is still not at all a bad choice) I covered the wall where the shelves would be with an accenting wallpaper, which came in a little roll at Walmart. Our living room is a beautiful grey-blue, so for the wallpaper I chose a distressed silver damask. I would also love to make a second accent with this above the mantle, but that will be for another day. The exact height of the paper doesn’t really matter. I matched mine up with the light switch and thus is looks somewhat like a back splash. You may want to get some help with this, because putting it up is very awkward. Consider it a team-building exercise.

A shelf I built 8 years ago with bird feeder hangers, and a great place to display my sword.

A shelf I built 8 years ago with bird feeder hangers, and a great place to display my sword.

Next up, the brackets. To know how far up the shelves need to be from each other, measure with your largest book. That way you’ll know that all of your books will fit and won’t have to be placed front end down, because that’s annoying and you can’t easily see what the book is that way. As far as horizontal distance, we placed each bracket more towards the center than on the absolute edges of the space to prevent bowing of the shelves. The longer your shelves are of course, the more brackets you’ll need. You can get these at different price points from Home Depot, but years ago I used beautiful wrought iron bird feeder hangers that cost just $2 each, so keep in mind that improvising is totally ok here. Remember also to use a level.

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For our own shelves we salvaged what was left of the old bookcase, but barring any available scrap you can get some small sturdy shelf boards from Home Depot or even better just cut some solid wood to size and stain it the shade of rich mahogany, or whatever color you prefer. You don’t absolutely need to secure the boards to the brackets. We didn’t. You’ll see here that although we used a level, the boards appear to be slanted. This is because the actual house is slanted, so what can you do.

Because our baseboards are quite high and we didn’t want to ruin them with holes, we used the baseboards themselves as a support system for the bottom shelf. To prop up the remaining corner we piled beautiful yet totally useless old dictionaries to the correct height. If your house is similar to ours in this way you can do the same thing, and use anything you like here, like a pretty dowel or a skull.

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Speaking of skulls, no spooky library is complete without one, so among some of the decorative features I placed on the shelves is a beautiful skull candle. The wax inside is red so it looks like it’s bleeding when you light it, but we thought it was just too pretty to burn. Don’t overdo the decorations though, this is a place for books after all. If your decorative items are heavy and unbreakable enough you can use them as book ends. Just to be sure though I used some cheap standard ones I got from Staples. You’re going to need book ends if your shelf doesn’t have sides!

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Ta-Da!

Creating shelf space in this way doesn’t have to be just for books, and is ideal for small spaces. We did this for night stands, and you can also put a very long shelf on the wall behind your couch to act as a console table or end table. You can even create a lovely little surface by lining an old drawer with beautiful wall paper and hanging it vertically on the wall as you can see in this lovely example. Of course once I do this I’ll probably still fill it with books.

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How to Make a Parasol – An Experiment

My cousin Jenna is one of the coolest people I have ever known. She’s so much fun and I think she’s more mature than I am. Over the last three years we’ve gotten really close. So when she spent her 16th birthday in Europe and came across a black lace parasol she absolutely loved, I wanted her to have one. But I can’t afford one. These things cost over 100$. But I had known about online tutorials since I was her age. When I heard she was coming to visit for spring break I decided that it would be a perfect activity for us to do together. She could not only have a parasol, but it would be her own unique creation and we would have a lot of fun doing it.

Forgive my bad pictures, I just use my phone and it’s tough to take pictures with it in my dark ass living room, especially when those pictures include black lace.

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So here are my supplies. At Fabricland I got ribbon in black, white, silver and ivory. I thought she might want to wrap ribbon around the handle in Tim Burton-esque stripes, but I wasn’t sure what colors so I got a few. I also wanted to use ribbon as the tie, which would double as a pretty bow whether the parasol is open or closed. For other decoration I got different silver buttons with crowns, crests, and flowers, because I thought they would remind her of Europe. I got some red jeweled ones just because they’re pretty. Of course I needed a fabric, so I got black stretch lace. And I got a kid’s umbrella, because the smaller size makes sense for a parasol, and it’s all Walmart had anyway. Also pictured: a charm I’ve had in my drawer for years, needles, and thread. Not pictured: a big cross pendant with chains and silver glitter fabric glue I left in another bag, because we had talked about painting a silver spiderweb pattern over it. It all cost…well let’s just say I know why these things are so damn expensive now.

When I had another look at the tutorials, it became clear this was not just a couple hours’ job. So I decided to get a head start and do the base in advance (Thank god I did, it took all day). I settled in for a carefree day of parasol-making, blogging, and indie comedies on Netflix.

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The first step is to pop the top off the umbrella. This was insanely hard. It took pliers, a soft cloth to prevent gouging, and a ton of muscle to twist like hell and get it off.

IMG_1378Now normally you would also remove the plastic caps on the ends of the spokes and set them aside for later. This wasn’t the case for me because instead of them being glued on over the fabric, the fabric was sewn to the caps through little holes. So I left them on and just snipped the thread.

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I also then snipped the thread holding the fabric on half way up the spokes. As you can see here, without the nylon to hold the spokes down, they’re coming up more flat now instead of holding a more rounded bell shape.

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So then it looked like this. The last thing I had to do to get the fabric off was snip the threads and break up the glue at the top.

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So then I was left with this. At this point the traditional method involves using the removed umbrella fabric as a pattern for your new fabric. I started doing this by separating one of the triangles by cutting it at the seams, then laying it over the lace and cutting around it leaving for seam allowance. But as soon as I cut that first triangle I decided this would take absolutely forever, and I don’t have the talent to sew them together straight. So fuck it. I just did what I had in mind before checking the tutorials and lay the lace over the top of the umbrella. I poked a little hole in it and pushed it over the silver thing at the top to hold it in place. The lace is stretch, so it’s fine. It looked like this…

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I decided to hold off on trimming the fabric, because I wasn’t sure what Jenna would prefer. We could trim it, leave it looking like a veil, or pile the excess fabric over the top, which could be quite pretty and let less light pass through. Now I just had to sew the lace to the plastic caps on the end of the spokes. It was super hard keeping the spokes even, because they liked to swing back and forth. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it’s not obvious. I stretched the lace pretty far hoping that this would return the parasol to the bell shape it had before, but it didn’t really work. So then I pulled the ends together with thread. It wasn’t super pretty looking, but it wasn’t that noticeable either, and if Jenna didn’t like it I could easily snip it apart. This took a lot of effort since I had nobody to hold the ends down while I tied off the thread.

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Done for the day. This kind of shows what it looks like with the extra fabric piled on top. I think I’m off to a good start!

Day 2. Jenna is here!!

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Isn’t she the cutest girl in the whole world? I put her in one of my outfits because I thought it would be fun to dress up and go to dinner.

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While I got my nails done, she set to work decorating it. I should have got more of a close-up. She sewed the buttons around the top, and put the cross in the middle. She spread around some of the glitter glue over the top so it looks like it was snowed on with sparkles.

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It turns out she really did love it with a veil. It reminded us of the big black hat Lydia wears in Beetlejuice. So she just trimmed one side of it very slightly. She loved this parasol to death by the way. She carried it with her to the restaurant and back even though it was dark out.

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We didn’t get as much time together as we wanted, so I didn’t get to see it with any ribbon. But I sent her home with the remaining supplies, and she plans to add to it later. It’s also going to be used as a charm parasol, with little tokens from her travels added over time. This whole thing turned out to be a GREAT idea. We had a lot of fun and the look on her face and seeing her hug it was priceless. And I’m totally going to buy her this outfit in her size one day.

A smiling goth. She is just that happy.

A smiling goth. She is just that happy.

Triple Reverse Ombre, or “Ombre Extreme!!!”

I’ve been hearing through the grapevine that the ombre trend is over. Excuse me? I hate trends, and finally I found something I really like. You don’t get to tell me it’s over. No, now is the time to take this shit to the next level. Ombre Extreme!! Let’s do this thing.

You recall from my first post about how to achieve a reverse ombre that I put black on the ends. Well, it turned out great. I absolutely love it, and I think I’ll keep it pretty much forever.  And today I’m going to expand on that. First up, a simplification of the process on the bottom. This is a complete revision and you’ll never have to read my first article again, except it still has pretty pictures.

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The second time I did the black on my ends, I wanted Bea to do it because she’s a hair genius. I’m always afraid of missing things in the back because I’m not an alien and I don’t have eyes back there. Well, she surprised me, even for her. She did the whole thing in under five minutes and didn’t spill a drop. She also didn’t use the brush, or separate my hair into blunt chunks by layer like I did. As it turns out, that was totally unnecessary. In fact the whole thing is just so easy I feel kind of stupid now for over thinking it so much before. She took a small piece from the front, saturated the bottom, and just pushed the dye up with her fingers. Then she went around my head, going purposely uneven so everything highlighted and swirled beautifully, and that was literally it. The only thing to know about this is you want the bulk of the dye to be at the bottom so you’re not dragging very much up with your fingers. I just slap a little glob on there, make sure it’s really worked in, and just slide my fingers up and down up through the transition part to carry it through. Easy. You won’t even believe it. Retouching my hair as it fades is now crazy quick and painless. And after about 5 times doing this I’m still using the same jar I started with.

Seen here with hair flairs, for added color and sparkle.

Now you may also remember me saying I don’t use bleach, because my hair is already blond and bleach kind of scares me. So to get my bright red to take I was dying the roots very light blond as an alternative. Now, this is the shitty part about bright hair upkeep. Most hair dye is just one process out of the box, but these bright veggie colors need bleach/blond, and then color is a second step. And let’s face it, I’m lazy. Often I dyed my roots blond and because I didn’t want to dry and dye and wash my hair a second time in one evening, I just left it. And left it. And left it. Soon I had some pretty crazy blond roots going on, and my hair was three colors. And actually that was pretty awesome. The color itself wasn’t bad, but me and light hair just don’t mix. It’s not me, and I needed to tone it down a bit. So then over the fall I started dying it copper. At first I didn’t love it, it was just too orange. But it always faded to a very pretty warm golden blond. And there I have it, the perfect tri-colored fire ombre. My laziness actually paid off and now it looks like I put in even more effort than I did before. I just keep touching up the roots, and don’t go there when I touch up the red part.

Ta-Da!

Ta-Da!

So enough about me. How can you do this? Let’s take this into the perspective that you will be keeping with the light-to-dark theme instead of the other way around. This way is a LOT less damaging. If you hair is already light to begin with, you can take it any color from there. To do your roots just make a bunch of partings and paint them with your color of choice and your tinting brush. Go as far down the length as you want, you’ll be covering it up with the darker colors after and extending it down a bit may even help the gradient effect because hair dye is rarely opaque. Take the second color, making sure it’s complimentary and a bit darker, and dye from your preferred starting point downward. It transitions smoother when you brush upwards in a sort of rounded “swooping” motion instead of plopping it on and brushing down the usual way, which would be very abrupt and unforgiving on unevenness. Then do it again with the third color either with your brush or the way I described I was doing my ends earlier. Most likely of course you’ll be doing this in three separate steps instead of all at once, and it’s ok to not even do it all in the same day. It might even be four steps if your root color doesn’t come in a box and you need to lighten it first. Suddenly this style doesn’t seem quite so lazy anymore, but I don’t call it “ombre extreme” for nothing.

Hellooo profile picture.

Hellooo profile picture.

Or you could sort of simplify and do it like me, if you’re patient and a little shy about wanting to do your roots something extra awesome (bonus – if you’re going white, the heat from your scalp processes bleach quicker, so your roots will be easy). This is also good if your hair is too dark/already damaged to handle the lightening and you want to start fresh with strong virgin hair. Choose the middle color as your base and do that all over. Then do your darkest color on your ends. Live with that. As your hair grows, touch up your roots not with your main color but with the lighter root color. Most likely this will involve lightening and either keeping it that way or dying something else on top later that day or the next. Have fun thinking of all the pretty colors you could do. White-purple-black, white-blue-black, blond-teal-royal blue, blond-pink-purple….this is going to be so much fun. Pro tip: Use lip liner, eyeliner, or eyeshadow to tint your eyebrows to match your hair. Next up for me, pink-red-black “flower” ombre!

Like a boss

Like a boss

You NEED to show me pictures if you do this. Let’s show them something fresh and keep ombre in.