Dec 21, 2014

Christkindlmarket 2014

'Tis the season.

In Chicago, that means it's time for the Chirstkindlmarket.  

Mimicking the large outdoor Christmas markets of Europe, vendors upon vendors line up in Daley Plaza, looking to sell their wares. 

There are booths filled with shiny ornaments, German food delicacies -not really anything for vegans :( - handcrafted cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), figurines, bath and body products and more.

The streets are lined with twinkling lights, 

…and evergreen decorations pop up everywhere. 

The little caramel-colored wood huts are super cute, complete with the bold stripe canopies.

Handmade confections line the shelves, and this stand was even making caramel candies in front of us, in large copper kettles.

German specialties, mostly gingerbread or lebkuchen, were the hot sellers. Other iced, decorated, sugar-topped and chocolate dunked types of cookies (kekse) were arranged in like colors and flavors.

Of course, there were enough chocolate (chokolade) Santas to feed all of Bavaria.

Tubs of colorful, foil-wrapped candies in contrasting colors shine bright, beckoning kids of all sorts to grab a few handfuls to take.

Ladybugs - strange yet cute.

Caramel and cheese corn are stacked high, displayed in the window giving the whole shop an orangey glow.

As you move past the Sweet Castle, you'll find rows of handmade ornaments. Here, precious and delicate glass creatures hang from floss like string, reflecting the sun through the colored glass and creating a dream-like aura. I liked the dragon dude the best. 

Slabs of santas hung a little precariously, especially considering of the infamous Chicago winds.

Little German flags line the stands, of course, adding a festive vibe.

Pretty handcut wooden ornaments line up in woven straw baskets, in various Christmasy shapes.

A manger meets the Menorah on the outskirts of Daley Plaza.

I loved this stand - even though these ornaments weren't shiny, the intricate patterns of the wood grain created an organic texture that I was diggin'.

The Ornament Haus - baubles galore in every color sparkled and glistened, creating a very holiday-like aura.

There were magentas, pinks and purples….

…silvers, champagnes and creams….

…ooh, and the infamous pickles.

Friendly psychedelic mushrooms reminded me of something from Alice in Wonderland.

I loved the feathers and elegant vibes of these bird ornaments.

Glitter drenched pinecones in every color and size were perhaps the most sparkly.

Dipped icicle spears are some of my favorites; a little edgy, yet certainly chic!

And there's more of the gingerbread! Around every corner. Frohe Weihnacht (Merry Christmas) was the common saying.

And the big tree - I captured it in bokeh. 

In the other Ornament Haus, (yes, there were many) featured these groovy mini Bug ornaments - super hippie. Love.

This was a cool idea; layer wire-wrapped glass ornaments on spiral white branches for a Winter Wonderland decoration. The contrasting lime and bright magenta here make for a modern palette.

There were a select few booths selling merchandise from outside Germany. Some had handcrafted woven sweaters from Nepal, ornaments from Poland and Canada, and more. This stand had super cool star paper lights. Totally gypsy/bohemian/star child = yes.

Alas! The cuckoo clocks. These are intense! All handcrafted from wood in the Black Forest. Boss.

Here's the Polish ornaments….

...and these curious little glass animals (less than 1" big!) from Canada. Which is your fav?

As we left Daley Plaza, we walked towards Macy's on State.

More Christmas cheer here, of course!

Ceilings like you'd see in Marrakech, right?

Umm… can I have this in my room?

The Walnut Room featured their annual decorated tree - this year, a very bubblegum pink scheme, with contrasting chrome decorations.

More bokeh, I love a dreamy vibe.

We walked back to the train, the adventure over.

One last photo that caught my eye; these grand golden doors, something that Midas would have touched. Kind of obsessed with the regality of these. Until next year!

Auf Wiedersehen!

All photos copyright Allison Beth Cooling - do NOT POST OR USE without linking to me and crediting me.

Dec 19, 2014

Hippie Crystal Headwrap

Now, this is my kind of tutorial!

Recycled materials + Swarovski crystals + gemstone beads + tie dye = pure hippie glam.

This tutorial combines all types of beads, aka "bead soup" as us crafters call it, to create a bohemian-chic accessory that makes a statement.

It can easily be customized for all your tastes! I used tie dye fabric from a recycled skirt, but if Super Hippie isn't your preferred look, feel free to use plain black fabric or anything else your heart desires. 

This is a turban-style head wrap which is sewn shut, without elastic. You've gotta be good about measuring for this one! You'll use denim (I used it from old worn jeans to recycle) to create a stiff front panel to embroider on.

I created a starburst pattern, stemming from a focal arrangement of hexagonal vitrail (that multihued-coating which looks like a shining rainbow) chandelier-style crystals. Stemming from this is more crystal rondelles, crystal flat backs by Swarovski Create Your Style, pillow Swarovski sew-on vitrail beads, and turquoise gemstone ovals. Turquoise is a purification stone, and is associated with the third eye chakra, so how fitting to use it in a headband?! You can read more about the powers of Turquoise here! Also, vitrail is a french word associated with stained glass, so it's very fitting for describing these crystals.

I kept with a palette of purples/greens/blues here to keep it somewhat consistent! I have a few more color palette ideas too:
-Black shiny fabric with gold, silver and champagne beads for a totally flashy look
-White fabric (with lace!) and pearls, light pink beads and white crystals for a girly look
-Maybe even try brown (faux) leather with copper, turquoise and bronze beads for a "country" feel...

That rhinestone chain is easy to sew on; simply weave and catch the metal in-between the links in your weave! It gives a cool "caged" look to the beads. Lovin' those Swarovski pillow beads too. 

Super glam, right?! Oh, if you want this sign (umm why wouldn't you?!) head to my Prada Marfa Wall Art Tutorial here! Trust me, quick and easy!
Are we finally ready for the tutorial?!!

Step 1: Gather materials. Needed are:

-Fabric. My tie dye is from an old hippie skirt that I cut up.
-Denim. I used recycled old blue jeans, thicker denim.
-Crystals, beads, you name it. Get all your sparkles together to use here. There are no right or wrong beads! I used an assortment of 3mm / 4mm crystals, Swarovski sew on crystals, turquoise oval beads from Happy Mango Beads, hexagon vitrail crystals (found them randomly on Ebay)
-Rhinestone Chain. Mine from Cousin Corporation
-Flatback Crystals. Mine are Swarovski Create Your Style, which you can buy at Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics. I also used Cousin brand Crystazzi flat backs (the small blue ones)
-Thread. I used the extra strong kind, used to sew leather together.

I first measured how wide I wanted the headband, and I cut a shape out of the denim and tapered it; You don't have to make it long enough to go around your head, because this is simply the "backing" to your embroidery to keep it stiff. I made mine long enough to sit above the ears. 
Your actual piece of fabric will need to be longer. This is the piece that has to go all the way around your head. So cut a roundabout shape to frame the denim piece with about 1/2" on each side of the denim. I'm lazy so I hot glued my denim piece to the tie dye fabric, folding the fabric over the back of the denim and gluing down. Yes, lazy. Don't cut any fabric yet. Now, flip this over and you should have a nice clean surface.

I started embroidering beads, starting with my focal point of those hexagon vitrail crystals. I layered those with other hexagon crystals and gold rondelles. I laid out my beads before I actually sewed them on, to see how I wanted my composition to go. Do the same! That way, it will save you aggravation if you end up not liking what you just sewed in! I sort of did a sunburst pattern going outwards. I used the rhinestone chain to "cage" certain beads. When I was done sewing, I simply glued on more glitz with the rhinestones and Swarovski flat backs, using E6000 glue.

The top image shows my final pattern. Wait for all your glue to dry before continuing with the next step! When it's all dry, simply fold in and sew in the raw edges on both sides. Take a small piece of fabric and use it to join  the ends, and sew shut. MAKE SURE YOU MEASURE before cutting your final piece! Make your headband snug but not super super tight.

Love the colors in these crystals!

This would look sick on beach vacations; the bright colors and someplace tropical go hand in hand!

Even wear this with an oversized sweater, leggings and ankle booties for a new-bohemian look.

Wear it with your hair up, or down. Or with a braid!

Thanks for reading!

All photos and text copyright Allison Beth Cooling. DO NOT POST OR REUSE WITHOUT LINKING TO ME AND CREDITING ME.