DIY, Eco-Friendly, Spirituality

I Know it. I Live it. I Love it.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide gather twice yearly for what they call “general conference.” During this conference, which is available to anyone interested in attending or watching live via the internet, we have the opportunity to listen to Church leaders speak on a variety of spiritual topics.

These talks are addressed not only to Latter-day Saints, but also to government, faith and community representatives and other conference guests. Speakers include the worldwide leader of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors in the First Presidency, the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other church leaders.

One of my favorite talks, which has had a lasting impact on me, was given in the October 2012 General Conference by Sister Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. Her talk was titled I know it. I Live it. I Love it, and focused on the importance of possessing and developing confidence in our identity as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

One of the things I loved about her talk was how she reminded me that when we live faithful, obedient, Christ-like lives, the blessings we receive not only affect our own lives, but also the lives of countless others in profound and often unknown ways.

When I heard this talk, I was in the last stages of serving the Lord as a full-time missionary in the England London South Mission, and this was a lesson Heavenly Father was already helping me to learn and to develop a testimony of. Through the experiences and examples of the faithful members of the ward I was serving in, I was learning that our Heavenly Father has a purpose for placing us in the different life situations we are in.

Where we live, and where we work, and where we go to school and what places we frequent are not by chance. The people who are our neighbors, and those who are our coworkers and schoolmates-they don’t happen to be in our lives just because-we are in each other’s  lives for a reason. I believe that we have been placed where we are for purposes that are often unknown to us, and whether those purposes are ever fulfilled depends on us and on our courage to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places. Being reminded of this often helps me because it encourages me to find the reason and purpose for being wherever I am in life. By being aware of this truth, I find myself being more aware of situations where I am presented with opportunities to fulfill those purposes.

The motto Sister Dibb coined in her talk has stayed with me since then, and is something that I’ve often repeated to myself when I have been hesitant or timid about doing a good deed, choosing the right, sharing who I am, what I stand for or what I know to be true. It has been during these moments that I have repeated Sister Dibb’s words; I am a Mormon. I know it. I live it. And I LOVE it! On more than one occasion I have been inspired by this phrase.

I Know it. I Live it. I Love it.

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a career night hosted for the Young Women in our ward. As the day for the activity drew nearer I felt a desire to make something for the girls to take home. I wanted to make something  they would appreciate while still embodying what I do for a living.

I decided to make them a bracelet since this is something that would be a simple and time-efficient item to make for 15 girls. Also, I had some awesome scraps of natural tanned leather waiting to be transformed into something useful. As I thought about what design, logo or phrase I wanted to put on their bracelets, I thought of Sister Dibb’s conference talk, and right away, I KNEW what their bracelets would say.

I Know it. I Live it. I Love it. Leather bracelets

I intentionally left out the first part of Sister Dibb’s motto; I am a Mormon. I hope that as the girls wear their bracelet, someone will ask them what it means and they will be the ones to explain that the words refer to their sentiment regarding their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

General Conference is upon us once more. In two short weeks we will once again be blessed to hear the words of a living prophet of God. I testify that conference has something to offer to each and every one of us. I invite you to come and see and to listen and hear what messages God has for you.

DIY, Eco-Friendly, Reclaimed

Laser cut rubber stamps, hangtags and stickers

I’m constantly looking for new ways to use the resources that go unused in the industry I work in. And let me tell you, within the fashion and garment industry, there is PLENTY that goes unused. So the closer and closer I came to opening up the Reclaimed shop on Etsy, the more I worried over still not having my product packaging figured out.

I conducted several google searches for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional packing solutions and what I found left me in awe! My searches were very tangent filled (as they often are) and would often keep me glued to my laptop monitor late into the night as I poured over some pretty awesome ideas. What can I say? There was just so much to see! It seemed like one website always led to another and to another and to another… and you get the picture.

During those late, monitor-glued nights, I came across many blogs, posts, sites and resources that inspired and strengthened my resolution to stick to my “green” guns and find an eco-conscious alternative to packaging my goods. After narrowing my creative ideas to about a dozen, I began to try them out one by one. Many of them were great concepts, but that was all. They were not practical enough to see through. Other ideas were wonderful in my head, but when I tried them out, they looked like a 1st grade art project.

I’m happy to say that after a few failed attempts and disappointments, I did finally find something that I liked, could do and was practical enough to use.  And while i know this might not be a plausible DIY project for many people, it was for me thanks to the resources available to me at my place of work. Mainly one; the laser system.

Yes, I decided to make use of my favorite big-girl toy; my Universal X-660 Laser System. I use the word “my” quite loosely since it actually is not mine, though I certainly do like to pretend like it is ;) I absolutely LOVE working with this machine. And even though it’s nearly 10 years old, it still runs wonderfully! Something that is to be attributed to the magnificent care my father has given it over the years. So, while it may certainly be an oldie, it most definitely is still a goodie :)

I began my project by designing my own hang tags, stickers and stamps. This included designing the shape, dimensions, size, fonts and making sure the stamps fit the stickers and the hang tags, and that these were in good proportion to the packaging i would be using them for.

I had never before laser cut rubber stamp, or even used the laser machine on any material resembling rubber, but as it turns out, there’s nothing you can’t do without a fine user manual :) Using CorelDRAW I designed the images I wanted on my stamps using only black and white. I then Inverted the colors and mirrored the image. By following the easy step-by-step instructions the manual provided, I was able to input the correct settings needed for the kind of rubber I was using. I loved how this took the guess-work out of everything. It was easy as pie! Which made me realize that I should probably make reference to the user manual more frequently instead of resorting to my usual trial and error

Laser Cut Rubber Stamps

For the hang tags, I used old manila folders a nearby business had thrown away while moving locations. PERFECTLY good, extra-large manila folders (Why would you do that?). I’d been holding on to them since like… March knowing that one day they would be useful for something. And now that day had arrived!

For my stickers, I collected scraps of kraft paper from our next door neighbor. They provide cutting services to clothing manufacturers and process thousands of garments each day. To make the cutting process more manageable, they place a layer of kraft paper in between every couple of layers of fabric (like a sandwich). After the patterns are cut, there are many scraps of textile and kraft paper left over. sometimes the scraps are itty bitty, but sometimes they can be quite big. And, since they have no use for these scraps, they simply end up in one of their three massive trash containers outside their building.

Laser Cutting

When I finished laser cutting them , I separated them into piles and arranged a sort of assembly line for myself. I inked my stamps and bam bam bam bam. Done. Just like that. It was so easy and fast! I have to admit this project went better than I anticipated. I love the imperfect look each stamp has. I think it gives it a lot of character and a bit of a vintage look :) I really couldn’t have been more pleased with the end result. This is a project I would definitely do again.

Stamped Stickers and Hangtags