Did you know?

I recently found out that rubbing alcohol will release hot glue from practically anything!

I recently found this out while prepping for the last craft show I did. I used an insane amount of hot glue on a few of my projects and of course it got everywhere! After taking way too long pulling off hot glue off some glass, I decided to clean off the glass with some rubbing alcohol. Lo and behold, the remaining little bits simply released!


Since then I’ve used it to easily remove hot glue from everything, including porous items like fabric.
I mainly use 91% isopropyl, so weaker ones may not work.

Rubbing alcohol is one of my favorite things, and now I have one more reason to keep it around!

so stinkin’ excited! (and other news)

Remember a while back when I said I was finally going to design my first fabric line? Well, I’ve had the designs for a while now, but I kept futzing around with it. I found myself stuck in perfection mode…couldn’t decide on colors, etc. I also took a few detours, did a few home projects and hand printed some things, in the mean time.

Until last night, when I finally pulled the trigger. I did it. I ordered a yard. Ofmyownfabricdesign. From Spoonflower. Yay, Me! Okay, it’s not a whole collection yet (baby steps), but it’s a start that I’m pretty excited about. I cannot wait till it arrives so I can make something with it. Which means you all have to wait to see it too, hehe!

I waited so long because of sticker-shock. Spoonflower is great, but it’s not cheap. The DIYer in me kept thinking I could do it myself. I am absolutely in love with fabric stamping and screen printing, but after a few days of printing and sewing, I realize that those media are a little limited for what I want, which is yardage. And Color. Lots of it. So I bit the bullet and ordered the durn yard of fabric and got on with it.

Here is a long bolster pillow I made using my hand-printed fabric… I just love it, but the printing took the better part of my day, while the sewing took me less than an hour.

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I am looking forward to listing something I made with my own design.  I do still plan on hand printing some items, but for the most part I will leave the printing to Spoonflower.

Speaking of the shop, I have been cranking out some new earrings. Apparently I won’t be able to leave them behind as I thought. It seems they are quite popular.  Everywhere I go people ask for the earrings. I have shops who want to sell them, so like they say, ‘give the people what they want!’ So here’s a shot of what my work table looks like currently…

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Here are some more pillows I made for my living room. Isn’t the one in the forefront just gorgeous?! The fabric is is a lovely Batik with gold embroidery. Yes, I think they are both gorgeous, but I’m partial to shiny things…The fabric in the background was one I fell in love with while thrifting.

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Let me just say, I am just simply in love with India. I love all things Indian. The people, the food, and the décor, oh my! Attending an authentic Indian wedding is on my bucket list.  I recently discovered a lovely blog about Indian Interior Décor. I have been inhaling everything on this site, taking in the visual feast that it is. Needless to say, it is really informing a lot of my design direction. In the future I see my work melding my African background with other ethnic influences to create a very rich look.  So excited!

long overdue

Yes, it’s been a while since I gave up some décor/crafting goods.  Sorry ‘bout that.  The sweatshop has consumed me of late.

Anywhoo, here are a couple of projects I did a while ago as part of my ‘bringing in the charm’ project for my family/craft room.  The room tends to be dark since it is situated in the back of the house under shade trees. It also had a lot of warm wood tones. In my attempt to work with the warm wood tones that came with the house, I had previously chosen this unfortunate shade of orangey-yellow (when will I learn that me and orange just don’t get along when it comes to décor??)


A few months after the orangey-yellow mess, I went with a greyish-white wall, and ultra pure white trim.  I LOVE it.  Now the room feels light and airy, and almost scandinavian, thanks to all the Ikea in there. The white background is also the perfect backdrop for all my colorful crafty stuff.  I love color, but apparently not in large blocks.


Since the family room doubles as my creative space (yes, it IS that big!), I decided to I add interest by hanging my large DIY word/wall art.  I  fashioned this art out of a $5 Ikea cabinet door  (gotta love the as-is room!) and some Amy Butler cardstock paper left over from another project. Lucky for me there were enough panes on this door to spell out the word “C.R.E.A.T.E.”  For this project, I simply used my handy-dandy silhouette cutter to cut out the word in various fonts.  I then attached the letters to the glass using glue-dots. Easy peasy!


I also made some embroidery hoop wall-art to cover up some ugliness… Now you know my secret shame. My house is not perfect. Sometimes things have to be jerry-rigged to make things work, like this shameful randomly punched hole that connects our modem to Mr. AfroMartha’s home office.

So, behind this:


Is this.

Just shameful.


To make this project, I simply stretched some cute fabric that I had on hand over some embroidery hoops and hung them on the wall. Now when Mr. AfroMartha is not working, the cords are neatly tucked into the wall and the art covers the hole. Yeah, that’s what’s supposed to happen…

OOhhh, gorgeous! Etsy find

Is this simply not THE most gorgeous scarf you’ve ever seen?! I found this while ogling around on Etsy. The depth of human creativity and skill never ceases to amaze me. I don’t even have the kind of patience it must take to make something this intricate. Support the handmade movement, SHOP HANDMADE!

    Crochet Paprika / Dark Orange / Terra Cotta rustic scarf scarflette neckwarmer lace wool spring

    From VitalTemptation

    Crochet Paprika / Dark Orange / Terra Cotta rustic  scarf scarflette neckwarmer lace wool spring


    Crochet Paprika / Dark Orange / Terra Cotta rustic  scarf scarflette neckwarmer lace wool spring Crochet Paprika / Dark Orange / Terra Cotta rustic  scarf scarflette neckwarmer lace wool spring Crochet Paprika / Dark Orange / Terra Cotta rustic  scarf scarflette neckwarmer lace wool spring Crochet Paprika / Dark Orange / Terra Cotta rustic  scarf scarflette neckwarmer lace wool spring

    This beautiful scarf was featured in numerous treasuries and blogs.

    Crochet Paprika / Dark Orange / Terra Cotta by VitalTemptation

    Mommy Guilt

    Dear Daughter,
    I know you really, really, really, really want me to make you that Pettiskirt for picture day on friday, but I just don’t think I can. I should have said so when you first asked me, but I really, really, really, really wanted to make it for you.

    You see, I do everything I can to get you what you want and what you need. The fact that I had no mother to show me the ropes leads me to bending over backwards, twisting, contorting, and yes, making promises that I shouldn’t just do make you happy. It is killing me softly.

    I am exhausted, bleary eyed, and still have a show to prepare for this weekend. I simply don’t have the time this week to make that skirt , show you how to knit, answer random philosophical questions, and anything else you may come up with for me this week. I need sleep, and help, not another project.

    So I am sorry. You will not have that skirt for friday. I hope this doesn’t send you to the therapist when you’re 30. Trust me, the world will not end, and you will still look lovely no matter what you wear in the picture.



    I just about hyperventilated when I saw THIS at my favorite thrift store today!

    This knitting machine is a toy I had when I was about 8 years old in Nigeria! I remember playing with it trying to figure out how to use it to make all those fabulous projects in the manual. It’s actually not a toy but an actual craft machine used to make granny-circles which can then be used to make a bunch of projects. I would often tell my daughter (who’s just a little older than I was then) all about this machine.  I don’t think I ever really made any projects with it, but I remember it fondly.

    Now that I have this machine in my possession I understand a little better my attachment to it. This machine reminds me of my mother who passed away when I was 9 years old . She used to sew and knit and do all these projects with me, and this is one of the machines we played with together. After her death and the chaos that ensued, I lost track of the machine. I have no idea what ever became of it.

    Fast forward to today.  I was browsing my favorite junky-pile Goodwill outlet.  Let me just say how much I LOVE this thrift store. I find the most obscure, usable, bargain-riffic items there! So there I was doing my usual browsing when this box jumped out at me.  It came with the original box (with the 1970’s pictures) and the original instruction manual! There was no question that I would buy it, especially since it cost me a whopping $1. All my memories came rushing back, and I couldn’t wait to show it to my daughter.

    I know that my Mother is not present in the machine. I know I don’t need it to remember her, but it feels like I found a connection to her, and also a connection that I can now share with my daughter. I look forward to sharing my memories and experiences with her while teaching her to use it.

    It happens every once in a while

    Yes, I do mess up. I. Make. Mistakes. Occasionally. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be the “master of all I attempt” and all, but I do occasionally have a bad one.

    Take for instance this hideously ugly batch of soap I made. The soap, while absolutely horrendous to look at, still functions as it should. It foams up nice, cleans well, and is mild to the skin.

    I can think of a few reasons why my batch went awry. The first thing I thought was that I must be losing my touch.  I no longer make soap to sell, but I do still make it for my family to use. I usually make a big batch so it lasts for a while. Soapmaking is a science as well as an art. If you can follow a few basic directions, do some basic math you will do fine.  So no, it couldn’t be that I lost my touch!  Here is the order of events on that fateful day:

    1. Measured and melted my oils:

    2. Measured, mixed and cooled my lye water

    3. Prepped my molds. Nothing much to do there since I use silicone molds which are the best invention since sliced bread.

    4. Mixed the oils and lye when the proper temperature was reached (around 110 deg F)

    5. Waited for the beloved ‘trace’, then scented my batch with ‘Bedtime Bath’ Fragrance Oil. So far so good.

    6. Poured my soap into the prepped molds and popped them into the oven at 250 deg F.

    7. (This is where things go screwy) I left home for about two hours and come back to find this:

    WTH???  My soap rose like muffins and spilled over the sides! This. Was Not. Supposed. To. Happen.

    8.  After stuffing as much as I could back into the molds with a spatula, this is what I end up with:  Bleccccchhhhhh!  Ugly Soap!!!  In addition to being ugly, my soap seems a little more oily than it should be. It still cleans, but I’m not happy about the extra oil.

    Now, here are my hypotheses as to what went wrong. The problem could be any one or combination of these.

    1.  My lye may be faulty. I’ve had this lye for years and some of the crystals have banded together to form bigger clumps, making them hard to dissolve sometimes.  The lye also seems to leave a film on the water, which is not supposed to happen. I don’t think lye goes bad but it’s possible.

    2. My scale may be faulty.  It may not be weighing right. I normally leave 4% extra fat as a buffer to keep the soap very mild. I may actually be leaving more than 4% if my scale is off.

    3. The oven oven temp may have been too high for this batch, causing the soap to get too hot and rise out of the pan. This might have also caused some of the oils to separate from the lye causing the extra oiliness. This I strongly suspect is the biggest culprit. I will try it again at 150 deg F.

    Whatever the reason we are now bathing with some sweet smelling, very mild, very ugly soap here at the AfroMartha household.

    I hope to have pictures of pretty soap soon!

    Raucous Dinner Parties, Oh how I miss you! And other musings…

    Oh how I miss entertaining!  Especially after having recently returned from Norfolk, Virginia, our previous hometown and site of our parties of old. Formal dinner parties have never been our style in the AfroMartha household.  We love just having a random group of people over, add some good food, some off-the-beaten-path music, and Voila! you’ve got a night of interesting conversation and a great time had by all.  Man, our get-togethers used to last till 2, 3, and sometimes 4 in the morning.

    Ever since we moved to the Midwest, though, we have not been able to make those same kind of connections. I’m sure part of the blame has to lie with us, but boy it’s been tough! Maybe it’s because we’re a little old to be starting over. After all, those connections we had in VA were made mostly when we were young and childless. Out here in the Midwest it just seems that most of the folks we encounter already have their own social networks and aren’t interested in adding new people. When someone does happen to come by, we tend to hold them hostage long past when they intended to leave.  Hmmm…I wonder if that’s why they don’t come more often?

    It’s not that we haven’t made any friends at all. I made one good friend and several acquaintances. Poor Mr. AfroMartha has made mostly out-of-town acquaintances due to his traveling for Capoeira.  This has to be tough for him because he’s such a social butterfly. We haven’t made any ‘couple’ friends, and definitely no ‘raucous dinner party’ type friends. Most of the people we meet generally tend to not be interested in doing out-the-ordinary things, like Brazilian music, or Afrobeat, or long evenings of stimulating philosophical discussions. Salt of the earth people though.

    Well, I miss it.  I crave it.  Even my cooking has gone downhill since I have no one to entertain. I don’t bake like I used to or try new dishes like I used to.
    I must find some people.  I know they are out there…they have to be. I resolve to extend myself and really go out of my way to meet some people. Got suggestions? Let’s hear it!

    On a brighter Note…

    Today was a very productive day. Operation Purge and Declutter had a banner day. I finally got rid of my stash of bottles and jars from my Taiwosoaps days.  I had tried to sell them on Ebay and Craigslist, but got nowhere.  The thought crossed my mind to just drop them off at Goodwill or even the recycling plant.  That just made me sad because I wanted them to go to someone who would use them.  Who better than a fellow soapmaker?! A quick google search turned up Tanya Brown of Living Simply Soaps less than 5 miles from me! She was so happy to receive my offerings that she gave me a few bars of her absolutely delectable soaps.  Good thing too, because we were running out of soap and I was thinking of making some with the rest of my stash.  Now I can wait a couple of weeks.  Check out her store, you won’t be disappointed! It felt great to bless someone with supplies in the same way I was blessed when I first started out oh-so-long ago. In return, I get a clearer cleaner space in my home.

    After dropping the containers of, I got to work on the pile of children’s clothes that needed to be taken to Goodwill.  I got those sorted and dropped off as well!

    Phew, all that decluttering got me so wiped, I decided to take a quick nap.  Well, the joke was on me, because guess what I came down to after my nap?  I left the 3 musketeers to make some art to occupy themselves, and this is what happened:

    Good thing I had thought to put down the plastic table cloth on the table, and aprons on each of them… The little one, aka Prince Ruckus used so much paint I couldn’t pull off his paper without tearing it. Very nice work they did though, I must say.

    This one’s my personal favorite though… it’s Fire!

    And here’s The Princess with her “Well, I didn’t do it” Stance.

    At least the cleanup was easy. They had fun and it bought me a few winks. Plus they didn’t burn the house down, which is always good a good thing.

    Fabric Printing

    I have been practicing printing on fabric using screenprinting, block printing, stamping, and stenciling.  I am itching to get some products out there onto my (currently empty) Etsy store.  For now I will content myself with practicing honing my craft. (Note: I don’t have pictures of my block prints here)

    These prints I did on repurposed fabrics. I am really fascinated with the idea of printing on repurposed/recycled fabrics, which are  abundant. I detest waste. I feel like objects have more than one life in them and I try to use what had been previously cast aside as being no longer worthy. In the following prints I’ve used fabrics that would otherwise be destined for the landfill.  It was a great feeling to know that I got a little more use out of them.

    The picture above shows my attempt at printing ‘ribbons’.  I printed these using block stamps of my own designs that I cut by hand out of self-adhesive craft foam, I then mount the shape onto a piece of clear acrylic.  (Side note: The acrylic blocks are sold in craft stores with the rubber stamping materials.  Buy those if you like paying a lot of money for your things.  I prefer to go the the glass/plexiglass section of home depot or lowes, as asking them to sell me their discards.  I got a bunch for about $2, which I cut down to size using the plexiglass knife.) These ribbons were printed onto a deconstructed twin fitted sheet I was kind of tired of. I ripped it into strips about 2 inches wide.

    The image above shows a design I drew and cut out onto plain ol’ contact paper.  I used the contact paper as my stencil by sticking it onto the screen. I do this method for short run printing or when I’m just itching to print and don’t want to burn a screen. The fabric comes from a cut up pair of linen pants that Mr. AfroMartha didn’t want anymore.

    I love doing repeat/allover patterns just as much as single placement patterns but they can be tricky when using the the screen printing method!  The pattern above is my first attempt at a repeat.  I had a hard time lining up  my design on the fabric. I am going back to the drawing board to master registration before I burn any more screens.  The fabric comes from an ikea curtain I purchased from the thrift store.  The fabric is really nice and sturdy, and I wish I’d gotten both panels instead of one.

    The ribbons again… The pink and red ribbon was hand-stamped.  The fabric was some random piece of fabric I had around and decided to dye to try out the packet of iDye. The dye took pretty well, and I thought it was a nice backdrop for the stamping.  My daughter begged me to dye her white sundress pink, which I did along with this fabric. It looks smashing and she loves the dress even more now, but I can’t wait to add some designs to the bottom of it.  Of course I will post once it’s completed. Stay tuned…