The alm Project – Diary of a Crafty Insomniac

Definitely different distinctive designs

Easy-to-Grow Indoor Plants That Thrive

by Al - April 23rd, 2015

Easy-to-Grow Indoor Plants That Thrive

Source: Fix.com

Wordless Wednesday – Grand Canyon

by Al - April 22nd, 2015

My View of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon - South Rim

Grand Canyon – South Rim

Grand Canyon - South Rim

Grand Canyon – South Rim

Butte

Butte

grand canyon

A tree stands alone

Out crop

Mesa

mesa

Cliff hanger

Mesas and Buttes

Mesas and Buttes

That rock formation tho

That rock formation tho!

National Register of Historic Places

National Register of Historic Places

Wish you were there!

Wish you were there!

Monogrammed Flower Pots – and other Plant Pot Hacks

by Al - April 15th, 2015

Flower Pot/Plant Pot Make Over

Mother’s day is fast approaching (May 10th, 2015) and instead of heading to the mall to purchase gifts for all my mommy friends, I opted to create handcrafted gifts.  And since I am obsessed with all thing garden, I decided to personalize a few inexpensive clay plant pots. You can pick up flower pots from IKEA for as low as .45 cents. Although I am sure you have a few clay pots lying around – so no shopping necessary:) BTW, these would make a great Birthday, Father’s day or Just because gift as well.

Monogrammed/Personalized Plant Pot

Monogrammed/Personalized Plant Pot

The process is simple, and (like I said) chances are, if you are a DIY enthusiast or a crafter, you may already have most of the supplies in your craft stash.

You will need:

  • Plant pot
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • A stencil of your initial
.45 cent IKEA Plant Pot

.45 cent IKEA Plant Pot

I found a few plant pots at IKEA for .45 cents. They were coated with a high gloss beige paint (say NO to beige). Since the finish had a high sheen, I had to cover the plant pot with 2 coats of spray on primer. After priming the pots, I painted on my base color – the color of my monogram. I only applied the color to the area that I will be placing the letter. In the example below, I wanted my letter to be yellow, so my base color here is yellow. 

Monogrammed flower Pot

Monogrammed flower Pot

While I waited for my base paint to dry, I prepared my monogram on my computer. In this case, I typed lower case letters a and ‘m’, madethem bold, sized them to 3.5 x 3.5 inches and printed the letters to a sheet of  ‘sticker’ paper (blank adhesive printer paper). I cut out my letters and once the paint dries, I affix each letter to a plant pot.

al Mc

al Mc

You can use any word processing or imaging software – I used Adobe Illustrator – and you can chose any font you like – upper or lower case. I happen to think that lower case fonts are more interesting. 

Monochromatic Monogram

Monochromatic Monogram

 

Once I was happy with the placement of my letter, I applied several coats of paint to the plant pot. I waited for the paint to dry, then I removed the letter to reveal a perfect monogrammed flower pot. I completed the process by applying a layer of polyurethane to seal and protect my project. This way, you will be able to use the pots indoors or out doors.

blue_a

a is for Al

Since I was in a painting mood, I decided to paint a few more flower pots with abstract designs.

abstract shapes3

Abstract shapes

I had a few funky color nail polish that I picked up from a clearance bin in a dollar store. They were .25 cents each. Although I a fan of bold colors, I was a bit nervous about using these polishes. They had a high chemical smell and I was afraid that they could be carcinogenic or that I could loose an appendage if I applied them to my fingers and tootsies. So, after arming myself with a face mask, I taped off a few abstract shapes and painted a few funky colored shapes on my Ikea plant pots.

Abstract Plant Pot

Abstract Plant Pot

I like that you get a different pattern each time you rotate the pot. It’s like you have a new planter at every turn.

Perfect for succulents

Perfect for succulents

These planters have no  drainage holes, so I would not recommend planting directly in them. They are essentially a plant pot cover. Go ahead, use the cheap plastic pot that your plant came in – jus hide them or cover them up with you chic DIY plant pot.

abstract shapes4 I know what you are thinking, all my friends initials are ‘A’ or ‘M’, well no, those are my initials. I am keeping these masterpieces for myself:)

abstract shapes5

 

Home and Garden – Snake Plant AKA Mother-In-Law’s Tongue

by Al - November 12th, 2014

I have a new favorite plant and I am on a quest to add each variation to my balcony garden. The species is commonly known as the Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or if you speak Latin Sanseivieria trifasciata. 

Snake Plant

Cylinderica Spear Snake Plant

The plant is an evergreen perennial plant that typically grows in a dense stands. This no fuss, succulent with thin upright leaves that resemble the skin of a reptile is native to tropical West Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo. In Africa, the plant is used as a protective charm against evil or bewitchment.

Snake Plant

Robista Snake Plant

The Snake plant  is a low-maintenance plant that will do well in bright, indirect or even low-light environments. They like to be pot-bound, and are difficult to kill (score!)
Water them every 1 to 2 weeks, allow soil to dry out completely between waterings. They  dislike Over-watering, cold temperatures and drafts.

Are you a forgetful or busy plant owner like myself? Its adaptations for surviving drought make it a suitable plant choice for you! and will work well in most living space, for example a bedroom or family room. These plants will  tolerate low and artificial light, making them great for dim spaces like first-floor apartments and office cubicles.

Snake plant

Birds’s nest snake Plant

The Mother-in-law’s tongue plant (so called because of the sharp pointy leaves) is recommended for improving air quality, it has one of the highest conversion rates of carbon dioxide to oxygen. You need 6 to 8 waist high plants per person to completely clean the air. (note to self – get more snake plants)

Check out the smoking hot pot!

Check out the smoking hot pot!

The Snake Plant have a low-toxicity level, making them less harmful to your household pets than other common houseplant. Plus, they can take some serious abuse. I’m talking getting knocked-over-and-detaching-from-its-roots neglect. Simply re-plant them and they will keep thriving.

Lighthouses – Another Nautical Inspiration

by Al - November 3rd, 2014

What is a lighthouse?

It is typically a conical shaped tower that is designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and used as a navigational aid for maritime pilots. Lighthouses can be at sea or on inland waterways.

They mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs, safe entries to harbors, and can also assist in aerial navigation. Because of the expense associated with their maintenance, the number of lighthouses in operation has declined and they are now being replaced by modern electronic navigational systems such as strobes.

Stars can't shine without darkness

Stars can’t shine without darkness

If this post seems like Déjà vu, it’s because I have addressed this topic before here. But this time around, I am seeing things a little different.

Please Indulge while I tell you a story. Recently, I lost my way. Because I live the isolated life of an artist, I was craving companionship so I decided to lend my talent for marketing to a local small business. The potential camaraderie was enough of an enticement.  Unfortunately, my zeal to help, left no time for  a creative outlet. I become obsessed with trying to grow someone else’s business with zero marketing budget – it was a challenge – one that became increasingly difficult because my client was resistant to change. Let’s just say, I now know why small businesses remain small.

I needed to get back to basics. I needed to create, so I went to my favorite place – the beach, and I spent hours simply gazing at the water and I was inspired.

lighthouse

Lighthouse in the Afternoon

My illustrations are typically more cartoon like – I guess you could say my artwork looks like it is straight out of a coloring book, but with Adobe illustrator’s help, I was able to add some more depth and details.

No clouds in sight

No clouds in sight

And as day turned into night, my head was bursting with ideas and I could hardly wait to get back to my computer to digitize my ideas.

lighthouse flower pot

Smoking Hot Flower Pot

What is a Tea Towel?

by Al - April 2nd, 2014
Not so stuffy

Not so stuffy tea Towel

A tea towel is a cloth typically used to spread over a tea tray before tea cups, tea pots and other tea paraphernalia are put onto it.  In addition, clean tea towels may be, or used to cover warm muffins, cakes and cookies or a tea pot to prevent heat loss. Some people, especially in North America, use tea towels for drying dishes and cutlery after they have been washed. Others use them as guest towels to dry your hands after washings. I am the product of a former British colony, I guess that explains my daily use of tea towels and my love of all things tea. And although you can pop down to your local big box store to get these versatile kitchen textiles, I felt the need to create a line of tea towel that defy the norm. My designs are influenced by my surroundings. I may be going for a run on the beach or at the park and I will see something that most people may take for granted, but that random image will show up in one of my designs.

Butterfly in my Garden

Butterfly in my Garden

Who doesn’t like butterflies. I have a container garden on my balcony and one of my greatest pleasures is sitting outside, having a cup of tea and watching the butterflies fluttering around my plants.

Water Under the bridge

Water Under the bridge

I live in south Florida where the terrain is flat – in fact most of Florida’s land mass is below sea level, but as I was running across a historic bridge in a tiny town in South Florida, I kept envisioning some mountains in the distance. when I designed this tea towel, I decided to add the mountains – I think it adds interest to the image.

Time for tea

Time for tea

These are not your mother’s tea towels:) These tea towels are designed to be conversation starters – they are art work for your kitchen. They are bold, colorful and whimsical – they are distinctively different; they each tell a story. What do you think?

xoxo Al

The Succulent Container Garden Chronicles

by Al - March 6th, 2014

I am told that moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. This may be true for others, but not for me. I see moving as a way to reboot my life. It’s a time to clear out the cobwebs and create fresh memories. Since I am now an empty nester, I no longer needed all the space I had when I was raising my family – I needed a smaller, more manageable space. I had 1 requirement; there should be adequate room for my ever-growing plant collection. I found the perfect place, made an offer, packed up my plants and made the move.

While I was unpacking, I came across some containers that I had forgotten I had – I don’t even remember packing them up. I decided to use them to refresh my patio garden.

succulent arangement

succulent arrangement

2 of my cappuccino cups were damaged in the move. The bold colors complimented green hue of 2 of my mini succulents.

Cappuccino cups

Cappuccino cups

I found some mini baskets among my craft stash –  I remembering getting them when Rag shop was going out of business.

3baskets

Mini Succulent Baskets

These mini baskets adds texture and interest. I like the organic quality they lend to my patio garden.

Remember the Bombay company? This home decor store was in malls all over the USA. I purchased a pair of vanilla scented candles housed in blue and white porcelain containers. I held on to the containers after burning the candles.

blue_white_suc

Blue and white Porcelain

They make a perfect home for some of my succulents and cacti.

Love the blue, white and green

Love the blue, white and green

I memory serves me, these mini embossed silver buckets shown below were left over from a baby shower I hosted (theme – a star is born).

Cacti in a silver Bucket

Cacti in a silver Bucket

silverpail2

Superstar

Ag Bucket

Ag Bucket

They are now hosting some of my gorgeous cacti.

An up cycled bowl served as the perfect home for this groovy aloe plant. The chips it suffered in transit adds character:)

Aloe I am settled, my plants are happy – I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life.

xoxo

al

Observation of Wynwood – Miami Florida

by Al - January 16th, 2014

Maybe the most surprising thing about Wynwood and it’s inhabitants is how seriously they take the entire situation. When I went there, I was expecting something much more tame, something overdeveloped and precious and planned. What I found was just much more organic. The people I saw seemed genuine, if a little twee, and the area itself looked grown, as opposed to created. I quite frankly have never in my life seen a place that uninhibited. Even now, as I look back, I am struck by how genuine the art looked and felt. There were handtags over expressive murals, different disciplines all smashed up against each other in such a small area. I would personally recommend that anyone form anywhere come and see this place at least once, if only to verify if what I had seen was really as good as I thought.

WynwoodArtDistrictMiamiFlorida Although the most striking thing about the place might be the art on the walls, I’d say that the best place to start would be a description of he architecture and geography of Wynwood. According to wikipedia, the area used to be a bastion for Puerto Rican Imigrants about five decades ago. The look of the place agrees with this information. The buildings are squat, short, and kind of dumpy. It is reminiscent of the rest of the state actually, everything is low to the ground, most signs are painted on. If you’ve ever driven through a working class or ghetto neighborhood in south Florida, you’d have a good idea. There are very few Art Deco influences, which helps the genuine aura of the place. It seems like the place could have been lived in by completely normal people with blue collar jobs. Nothing much feels pretentious, in this way at least.

ARTS_wynwood-3

If the architecture is plain but effective, the art is quite the opposite. Dense, graphic, and ubiquitous, the various sketches and paintings and murals one can find around Wynwood are honestly impressive. Things look painted over and nearly all space is used to end a message or make you feel a specific way. There’s stencils of weird, vaguely propagandized sayings and tags all over the sidewalk. In addition to that, there’s plenty of hand style graffiti and simple stencils all over the place that reflect a sort of guerrilla attitude towards art. Often these little details serve to remind you that you’re in a city and not a playground or art exhibit. There are also larger pieces that are just people’s handles, but are done in an elaborate classical 90’s graffiti style that might remind you of a Wu Tan or NWA music video. It made me give pause and wonder exactly what type of people were spending their time putting their brains and hearts up on the walls.

blk and whit graphic On the other end of the art spectrum, there were more graphic illustrations that you might possibly consider finding in an edition of Juxtapose magazine. It was all what I personally would consider street inspired, but the detail and variety was surprising. People used all sorts of influences in coming up with these pieces. There was of course you’re typical Superflat influenced Paprika style illustrations in one place, but another would have something you wouldn’t really expect at all. According to the website, popular artists like Shepard Farely and Ryan McGuinness contributed to a lot of what you see walking down the street in Wynwood. This is readily apparent by the quality displayed by some of these pieces. But what is really compelling about the entire thing is how many different styles and skill levels you can find. Although I’m sure this definitely is not the case, it kind of looks like they just let people go wild, and everything is that much better for it.

kennyscharfmural1588

Of course, there are also art galleries and stores that are just as interesting. I personally didn’t have time to go into all of them, but I did see a few. I have no idea how a lot of these places were keeping their doors open, considering how little people I saw actually buying stuff. Sure, one could purchase a nice multimedia panting for around fifteen hundred dollars, but they didn’t exactly look like they were flying off the shelves, and the patrons of the art galleries didn’t look that rich to begin with. One could find all sorts of novelty stores selling your typically novelty items that appeal only to people who would describe themselves as “quirky” without irony. They also have weird places that sell odd things that don’t appeal to me in the slightest but seem to be perfectly accepted by the community.

I’m still not quite sure how all of the art galleries sustain themselves, but at least the coffee house seemed busy. Panther coffee is an interesting but not very appropriate name for the place, mostly due to the fact that it’s just so easygoing and laid back. The line stretched out the door into the parking lot, and the menu was rather obtusely only visible at the counter. For some odd reason they stored all of their food products in an attic that was directly above the bathroom. I wasn’t worried about cleanliness, but the optics of the situation were problematic. This was alleviated by the cappuccino I had, which was really delicious. I feel as I the little heart patterns done in creme helped, sort of like how flames decals on cars make them go faster.

panthercoffee

The coffee shop gave me a good vantage point to start observing the people of Wynwood. It seemed to me like these were just normal Miami people only better hydrated, a little younger, and dipped in a thin layer of hipster. If people outside of Wynwood wore pre-distrested jeans, these people were wearing the skinny, straight indigo version. If someone else would be wearing a typical t shirt, they’d be wearing an American Apparel v-neck. Still, most people looked about as one would expect. Not very much eclecticism apparent in how the people looked that way. I saw a pretty decent mix of different ethnicities, with the average leaning towards white or white Hispanic. I didn’t feel out of place at all though, which is not normal in a place where people know who Arcade Fire is.

wynwood Unfortunately, I only got to talk to a couple of people during my time there, mostly cashiers, but I did get to eavesdrop to my satisfaction. I heard some people talk about normal city stuff, and others whisper about gluten free this or that. One lady in front of me mentioned DJ Shadow and Jamie XX, and I briefly considered going out with her. I noticed that when some people talked they gave the hipster smoldering look and smirk combo. It’s nearly impossible to describe, but I’ll try. It’s this sort of limp-wristed looks that tries to indicate that the speaker is basically aware of everything that could have possible happened in the cultural underground and she expects you to know as well. It’s like they’re all kinda bored with the current conversation before they’ve even really finished. The inhabitants of Wynwood give this look and talk in this manner so often I feel as if the may all just have a common ancestor, and they were just born this way. It’s as if they are all in on a joke that I was completely unaware of.

6730516641_06eec08f01_o I often got the look from people trying to sell me stuff, normally after they realized that I was actually going to buy stuff. Perhaps at that point I was considered part of the in group. It was Saturday in between lunch and dinner when I came, so a lot of the stores weren’t open, or at least weren’t expecting anyone. There was a wedding going on somewhere, however. A perfectly non bohemian looking couple who took Pictures near the Wynwood Walls place, where a group of people were sitting, standing, hipster-smirking, and eating elaborate gastronomic pub food that looked delectable and way to expensive. At some point a very cute lady tried to sell my vinyl stickers in a place called Kawaii Universe. I feel that if I were to return to Wynwwod with significantly more money and an ironic mustachio, I would maybe have the time of my life.

post2b The general aura the Wynwood gives, at least on a superficial level, is like walking through the sketchbook of a girl who looks up to Summer from 500 Days of Summer,  or Clementine from Eternal Sunshne of a Spotless Mind. On a deeper level, the district puts itself on display in a way that no other place I’ve ever been to does. The whole place exists to show you something, but not necessarily in a very structured way. Even though all of the art is very striking,  the intention is for you to come to it, rather than it coming to you. Although this may sound extreme, Wynwood is a gifted place, one that actually exuded verisimilitude without tripping off one’s BS sensors. I would recommend that nearly anyone check the area out, even if only to avoid having to pay for Art Basel.

xoxo

Matt.

 

New Year, New Succulent Arrangements

by Al - January 6th, 2014

This textile is a succulent plant addict. during the week, I work on my textile designs, But on the weekend, you will find me cruising flea markets for unusual containers for my ever growing succulent container garden.

2014 143

Flea Market Finds

Not all my flea markets finds are suited to container gardening, but I have always been able to figure out  way to include them in my succulent garden.

Cobalt blue dish, turned cactus home

Cobalt blue dish, turned cactus home

The bottle below will eventually be an oil lamp. But for now, it houses a mini cactus that got separated from his mom:)

Kinda cool eh?

Kinda cool eh?

Even a discarded wine bottle cork was put to great as a container for this cactus orphan. A suction cup glued to the back made it a perfect companion for my naked sliding glass door.

Wine Cork Planter

Wine Cork Planter

A few traditional clay pots painted in my color choice added some flavor to my container garden.

2014 320

Cacti Garden

I found this orange planter for only .50 cents. Although it is not particularly unusual, I am digging the color.

Filler, Spiller, Thriller

Filler, Spiller, Thriller

Here is another view.

2014 327

View from the top

Can you see the little frog peaking out – he was another flea market find.

And the purple pot had a twin – but not identical.

Succulents

Succulents

See ya next weekend

xoxo

Al

 

 

 

Happy New Year (2014)

by Al - January 2nd, 2014

2013 was a year an exciting year. When my corporate position position was eliminated, I panicked and I immediately started to search for another position. Getting a new job should have been easy, After all, corporations should be clamoring for a person with my qualifications – but what I found out is this. When you are in the online marketing space, you need to compete with the 20 somethings who are willing to offer their service for free.

Well as they say, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, so that is what I did. You see, during my down time, I designed whimsical or some would say quirky pillows and other home decor items. I started by sketching the images floating around in my head, then I would fine tune them on my computer and once I was satisfied, I would transfer the final image to fabric or any other medium of my choosing. Finally, I would put the product out in cyber space and hoped for the best. Thank fully, many of you liked what I was offering, so, the al mcleary design company was born.

Well enough about that;). Several months ago, I was sitting at a stop light and a VW Bug from the 1960 or 70s pulled up next to me. I immediately got a flash back to my childhood – you see, I learned to drive on an old 1966 VW bug that my dad had restored. Naturally, I was inspired to create something – maybe a pillow.

Volkswagen Bus

Volkswagen Bus

volkswagen bugs and vans are reminiscent of the the hippie movement, so I used a a gradient of red, green and yellow as the back ground for the pillow.

Volkswagen  Hippie chic Pillow

Volkswagen Hippie chic Pillow

Remember I said I learned to drive on an old 1960s bug? well, here is how I remembered it.

vw_fire_bug

1960s VW Bug Pillow

I kept asking my dad to add flames to the side of the bug, but he would not comply, so I decided to add it to my design:)

I am hoping that 2014 will be a year filled with inspiration. I will be sharing my inspiration with you on this blog, if you are so inclined, please leave me a comment  – tell me what you thing of what I am doing.

1960_bug2

Look how great they look on a simple taupe couch from Crate and Barrel:)

Couch from Crate and Barrell

Couch from Crate and Barrel

Have a creative year!

xoxo

Al