Animal Instincts

Now that we are past New York Fashion Week, let’s talk about a real trend-setter with values deeply rooted in the earth, well-being, and humanity.

Before it was popular, Imelda McCain (seen above) opened her all-handmade toy store, Playing Mantis, in Tribecca in with the goal of providing families and children with toys she felt were worthy of—and that she was already making for—her own son, Lucas (seen below). Not only has she been providing smart, wholesome, green toys for local families for the past 8 years, but she has been giving back to craftsmen and their families and communities—around the globe—in the process.

According to Imelda, every toy has to have a story and a passionate creator behind them. With these altruistic standards in mind, Imelda has had many years of success with Playing Mantis as she has watched Lucas, now 14, grow up. She has been making toys out of felted wool (from her own alpaca & sheep farm) and wood since the get go, but this year she has started a new line that I think is particularly fabulous, and Lucas agrees.

So if you are left feeling drained from another overly-commercial Fashion Week, take a peek at these stunning creations of Imelda’s and feel inspired, refreshed, and perhaps a few years younger? Coincidentally—or not—Halloween is just around the corner and so is Playing Mantis where Imelda has all of her homemade, homegrown, felted-wool beauties on display and for sale! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! And if you haven’t been to Imelda’s shop, it’s well worth a visit.

 

Art Southampton 2014

Over the weekend, I went to Art Southampton, the premier international contemporary and modern art fair that took place at the peak of the season in the Hamptons. The show featured more than 75 international art galleries with a strong focus on works from the 20th & 21st  centuries. Contrary to some other large art fairs like this, there was an abundance of really impressive work. Here are some of my favorites from the show. Enjoy!

Jackson Fine Art: Vee Speers (left) an Christian Chaize (right)

Jackson Fine Art: Christian Chaize

amazing flameworked milk glass by Amber Cowan. Made from antique pieces of milk glass and new details an then fuzed together

amazing flameworked milk glass by Amber Cowan. Made from antique pieces of milk glass and new details an then fuzed together

triptych by Lluis Barba: The Cynthia Corbett Gallery

Smoke and graphite piece by Rachael Nee: Cube Gallery

a show-stopping (and huge) painting by Wolf Kahn shown by Birnam Wood Galleries

My favorite of the show. Large painting by Juliane Hundertmark, represented by the artist’s own gallery, Galerie Juliane Hundertmark

These were amazing! Sang-Sik Hong constructed these out of thousands of straws!! They were so beautiful in person. Photos not doing them justice. Gamo Gallery

These were amazing! Sang-Sik Hong constructed these out of thousands of straws!! They were so beautiful in person. Photos not doing them justice. Gamo Gallery

small erie painting by Alexey Terenin at the Mayer Fine Art booth

Absolutely love this set of 12 plates by Damien Hirst. Each one unique from his butterfly grid paintings series

Absolutely love this set of 12 plates by Damien Hirst. Each one unique from his butterfly grid paintings series

Another favorite from the show. This pastel on paper by Kelly Reemtsen (Debuck Gallery) was so fabulous! the artist’s rendering skills are undeniable and the colors and subject matter as so juicy and twisted. Love it!

A detail from a pastel on paper by Kelly Reemtsen (Debuck Gallery) Love how she renders hands. Beautiful form!

Painting by Elaine de Kooning

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. This one with full peacock tail and vibrant feather armor.

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. This one with feather body (think Falcor from Never Ending Story) and hints of periwinkle in the fur

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. These 3 divas were hairy and hilarious!!

insanely imaginative feather-covered taxidermy by Enriquez Gomez Demolina at Pan America Art Projects’ booth. Details from the 3 divas

Artists & Galleries mentioned above:

Vee Speers & Christian Chaize, Jackson Fine Art
Amber Cowan
Lluis Barba, Cynthia Corbett Gallery
Rachael Nee, Cube Gallery
Wolf Kahn, Birnam Wood Galleries
Juliane Hundertmark
Hong Sang-Sik, Gamo Gallery
Alexey Terenin, Mayer Fine Art
Damien Hirst, ARCHEUS/POST-MODERN
Kelly Reemtsen, De buck Gallery
Enriquez Gomez Demolina, Pan America Art Projects

Hamptons Designer Showhouse 2014

Saturday was Traditional Home’s annual Gala Preview Cocktail Party for the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, benefiting Southampton Hospital. As always, it was a vibrant and summery event with beautiful interiors and an attractive & interesting crowd. I was thrilled to meet Jamie Drake for the first time and gabbed with my favorite charmer Mario Buatta. Below are a mix of some of my favorite rooms and details.. and some I thought you might enjoy!

The Hamptons Designer Showhouse is open daily Monday to Sunday, July 20 through Monday, September 1. Hours: 11AM to 5PM. Admission is $35 and includes a Journal. For more info and directions click here.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services. One of two Slim Aarons photographs above consoles flank the door from the foyer.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services

Kitchen cabinets by Ciuffo Cabinetry

Living room by Lillian August

Details from the living room by Lillian August

A view in the study by Greg McKenzie Design. Note the embroidered wallpaper detail.

Delicious details from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

Detail from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

A playful powder room by Melanie Roy Design

A view in Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

A detail from Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bath. I LOVE this artwork signed “LBall2012″

Details from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

A detail from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

Mabley Handler Interior Design’s striking bedroom

Details from Kate Singer Home’s guest bedroom

A view into the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

Details of the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

A details from Phoebe Howard’s bedroom. I really like this piece.

Punchy master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

More views in the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates (Tobi on left)

A detail from the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

Four watercolors by Mark Humphrey adorn the upstairs hall

A view from the master bedroom balcony onto the back yard where the party was about to pick up (I shot this before most of the crowd showed up)

Wonderful little guesthouse with pergolas on either side (this is the back). Exterior spaces by designer Caleb Anderson Design

Links to the designers shown above:

Mecox Design Services
Ciuffo Cabinetry
Lillian August
Greg McKenzie
Melanie Roy
Henry and Co Design
Katie Leede
Gil Walsh
Mabley Handler Interior Design
Kate Singer
Phoebe Howard
Tobi Fairley
Caleb Anderson

Holiday House Hamptons 2014

I visited the Holiday House Hamptons this past weekend. Spanning several units of the newly restored Watchcase, a 19th century historic factory building in the bustling downtown of Sag Harbor, NY.

The units were bright and spacious with high ceilings and restored original pine beams and exposed brick walls. Rustic and industrial meets modern with the oversized arched factory windows, oak floors, and sleek stone surfaces throughout the kitchens and baths. The designers really pulled some incredible rooms together that were lively, unexpected and fun. Below are my favorites.

You can still see the exhibits until September 1, 2014. They are open daily 11am – 5pm and located at 15 Church Street, Sag Harbor, NY.

Bedroom by Jen Going Interiors

Bedroom by Jen Going Interiors

Bedroom by Jen Going Interiors

Kitchen and Living Room decorated by Huniford Design Studios

Living Room decorated by Huniford Design Studios

I think this was my favorite room, designed by Tamara Magel Home. I just saw these incredible light fixtures (by Apparatus Studio) at the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) in May. They are spectacular: note the cone shape is porcelain.

Campion Platt’s playful Master Bedroom

Gorgeous details of Campion Platt’s playful Master Bedroom

Colorful and rich art by Dagmara Weinberg

Nicely styled side table in Scott Formby’s Living/Dining Room

details from Scott Formby’s Living/Dining Room

A great little seat in Scott Formby’s Living/Dining Room

The comfy and chic Living/Dining area of the Townhouse by West Chin Architects & Interior Designers

A detail of the Knotty Bubbles Chandelier by Lindsey Adelman for Roll & Hill in the Living/Dining area of the Townhouse by West Chin Architects & Interior Designers

A detail from the Living/Dining area of the Townhouse by West Chin Architects & Interior Designers

A detail from the Living/Dining area of the Townhouse by West Chin Architects & Interior Designers

The kitchen in the Townhouse

Details from the kitchen in the Townhouse

A detail from the kitchen in the Townhouse

The Den in the Townhouse by Elizabeth Dow Home. Chandelier by Lindsay Adelman, Pillows by Dransfield & Ross, wall covering by Elizabeth Dow Studio

A detail of the Den in the Townhouse by Elizabeth Dow Home. Pillows by Dransfield & Ross, wall covering by Elizabeth Dow Studio

Detail from Elsa Soyars’ Townhouse Bedroom

Details from Elsa Soyars’ Townhouse Bedroom. Croc wall covering from Crezana Design

Townhouse Master Bedroom by Brady Design

A detail from the Townhouse Master Bedroom by Brady Design

A detail from the Townhouse Master Bedroom by Brady Design

I love this detail. The designer continued the stripes from the drapes onto the walls in paint

Here are links to the Designers, Artists and Craftsmen mentioned above:
Jen Going Interiors
Huniford Design Studios
Tamara Magel Home
Apparatus Studio
Campion Platt
Dagmara Weinberg
Scott Formby
West Chin Architects & Interior Designers
Roll & Hill
Elizabeth Dow Home
Lindsay Adelman
Dransfield & Ross
Elsa Soyars
Crezana Design
Brady Design

We Need the Bunk!

Gotta have the bunk! Perhaps George Clinton would find this room a little preppy for his taste, but I think he’d agree it’s bunkedelic. I designed this kids’ room for a Hamptons beach home a few years back and—because it’s fun, summery and patriotic—I thought Independence Day was a good time to share it with you.

Bunk beds are a great solution for a small space and often create opportunities for interesting and efficient storage solutions.

Have a cozy and happy 4th with your friends and family! xo MMK

The nautical cage lights are similar to these at Cape Cod Lanterns and are good and kid-proof.

The canvas floor totes are a great solution for toy storage and things that need to come and go (like beach gear or laundry). I bought these at Home Goods but Pottery Barn has some similar in style.

Because the room needed to be finished for a house tour and was not being lived in yet, I styled the shelves with a mix of my own books and others that I bought at Salvation Army and covered in blue faux-shagreen paper just to give it a little consistency and color.

The rug is flokati and is similar to this one from homedecorators.com.

The bedding is all from Marshall’s and Home Goods. Because of my tight time frame I picked a classic and simple color scheme (navy & white with small hints of red) and stuck with it. You can get away with mixing patterns as long as the hues are the same.
Get a similar, but more tailored, look with the following bedding by Ralph Lauren and a few of these pillows and these pillows too.

 

Paddling Out to Rockaway

I went out to Rockaway Beach last weekend—an area that was devastated by hurricane Sandy of 2012—to hang with surf blogger (NYCurchin.com), sustainable fashion marketer (at Rogan and Loomstate), philanthropist, and sister, Annie McBride.

Annie has been surfing for several years and was accustomed to taking mass transit—surfboard in tow—to the Queens coastline from Williamsburg when Sandy hit town. Due to her appreciation for the beaches and her general philanthropic nature, Annie spent months helping with the recovery effort in Rockaway and quickly fell in love with the culture there. Now a Rockaway resident, this NYC Urchin is in her element.

After a morning of surf and sun, Annie hosted an intimate barbecue with friends and neighbors. I was not nearly bohemian enough for the crowd, but anyone can connect over good summer food. Below are the recipes she embellished for the best Veggie Burgers I have ever had (I am a proud carnivore) and a totally delicious Quinoa Salad.

Pass the poi, mahalo!

Quinoa Summer Salad
(modified from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
4 cups water
1 cup white quinoa
1 cup red quinoa
1 1/2 large red onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 grinds black pepper from a grinder
1/4 cup olive oil
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
Bring water to a boil in a pot; add white quinoa and red quinoa. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed, 15 minutes. Set quinoa aside to cool while you complete the remaining steps.
Combine red onions, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, sea salt, and black pepper together in a bowl. Stir in white and red quinoa.
Whisk olive oil and lime juice together in a separate bowl; pour over quinoa mixture. Stir to coat. Add cilantro and stir to incorporate. Cover salad and refrigerate for flavors to blend, at least 4 hours.

 

Lentil Quinoa Burgers
(modified from Women’s Health Magazine)

Ingredients

1/2 cup quinoa
1 can (19 oz) lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 gloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin powder
1/3 cup cilantro
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 tsp vegetable oil
6 buns

Directions

In a saucepan, combine quinoa and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Let quinoa cool.
In a bowl, combine half the lentils, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, cumin, cilantro, lemon juice, cooked quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a food processor or blender; process until well combined. Add remaining lentils and walnuts; pulse until they’re incorporated. Form into 6 patties.
Preheat grill to medium. Brush burgers with oil and cook for 4 minutes per side. Toast buns for 2 minutes.

 

SHOULD YOU VENTURE TO ROCKAWAY THIS SUMMER,
HERE ARE A FEW PLACES NOT TO MISS:

Transportation: The NYC Beach Bus provides beer and a ride to Rockaway

Breakwater Surf Co: for board rentals

Rockaway Taco: a classic neighborhood spot for—you guessed it—tacos. Place is popular morning, noon and night.

Whit’s End: for the best pizza you’ll ever have

Playland: Super bohemian-chic motel with bar and outdoor games

Caracas: beach bar with arepas and drinks (arepas are south american corn pancakes)

Veggie Island (may have new name now): for your morning coffee and fresh pressed juices

THIS WEEKEND there is s surf, skate and music festival: Rock Stock and Barrels

And don’t forget to check out the new Moma PS1 Rockaway! show featuring solo projects by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff. IT OPENS TODAY, June 29- Sept 1, 2014.

DIY Lamp Makeover

Newly finished lamps in my guest room.

I don’t know about you, but I have a closet of things I should bring to Salvation Army but just can’t part with. I also have a habit of picking up people’s rejects (these 60′s wood veneer lamps for example) and other sad items at antique stores and estate sales that are screaming for a facelift. Here, I help you (and myself) tackle 2 of these afflictions at once and create one beautiful product out of two unwanted ones.

Using a skirt—from about 10 years ago—I reupholster a pair of lamps. Back story on the skirt I only wore once: it was a sweltering summer day in midtown (NYC) and I was working at Elle Decor magazine at the time. We were throwing a book signing party that night in conjunction with PR team LaForce + Stevens for Martha Baker’s coffee table book about beautiful pools, The Swimming Pool: Inspiration and Style from Around the World. I would have paid my small salary to be in a pool at the moment but instead found myself sweaty, running late, and hustling through god-awful Times Sq to get to this event. I detoured into the GAP and in under a minute reappeared refreshed and in this skirt (picture Clark Kent in the phone booth). Both Margaret Russell (EIC of Elle Decor at the time) and author Martha Baker complimented me on the skirt that night, so it only seems appropriate that I’ve—hoarded the skirt until now and—turned it into a pair of lamps.

I think the tight pattern lends itself well to this small-scale project and gives these lamps sort of a French mid-century meets Herend porcelain look. Read below for instructions on how I did it. Happy DIY’ing!

GAP skirt from 10 years ago.

 

I cut the skirt into clean fabric panels, removing zippers, pleats, etc.

I ironed the fabric to start with a fresh, flat material.

After measuring the height of the lamp base, I cut a panel large enough to wrap the base with a small overlap. I used the factory edge along the bottom of the lamp so I would have one less edge to finish later. With a glue gun, I ran a bead of hot glue along the length of the lamp and slowly fit the fabric to the lamp as i rotated it and glued as I went. I did not hem or fold the finished edge because I had a very clean cut and my final bead of glue was lean and tidy right up agains the edge of the cut.

I then trimmed the excess fabric along the top and left a slight overlap so that I would have extra to finish the top with.

With a small plastic card (you could use the corner of a credit card or a thick business card), I tucked the extra lip of fabric under the metal collar at the top of the lamp.

I then measured and cut strips for the two remaining wood veneer areas.

Again, I applied the perfectly cut fabric strips to the lamp and glued as I rotated

And then did the same with the last section.

Here’s what they looked like after all was said and done. The tight pattern on the fabric gives the two tired lamps a very sleek new look.

And at last, they find a home in our guest room, flanking the bed.

The painting above is by Ellen Reinkraut. Throw pillows are similar to these ones by Pottery Barn.

Cape Cod Mod

In the quiet town of Orleans, on the Cape of Massachusetts, lives a couple with their two English Setters, Dotty & Betsey (those are the dogs). Chris Ramel is retired but an avid sportsman and his wife, Mary MacLellan (marycmaclellan@gmail.com), is a practicing architect. They moved here a few years ago from Denver and though Mary has spent a good amount of her life visiting the Cape and her brothers all live there, they fall into the loving category of “wash-ashores” which, according to locals, includes anyone residing on the Cape that is not a native since birth.

Despite the name they have successfully renovated and restored a very classic Cape Cod style home…and added a tasteful addition (Mary’s design) to accommodate an extensive art collection, a spacious and modern kitchen with sitting area, a living room with lofted studio (Mary’s office), a master suite, a 2-car garage, and—last but not least—an outdoor shower that is to die for. Their blending of classic antiques with very modern accents—throughout the home—is a pleasant surprise. But, much like the warm hosts, the kitchen in particular really grabs you and draws you in.

The vast and sleek Bulthaup kitchen that Mary envisioned for the space is now a reality

The kitchen shares a spacious room with this sitting area so that the couple can entertain while they cook. Dining and side chairs by Cassina. The large abstract is by painter Edward Holland: www.edwardholland.com

One of the Ramels’ English Setters. This one is Betsey. Very shy with guests but incredibly loving and apparently an impressive hunting partner.
Chairs by Cassina

 

The large dining table is equipped to accommodate quite a crowd.

Mary has a beautiful collection of matte Wedgewood Black Basalt china.
The clay body, black basalt, was developed and introduced by Josiah Wedgwood in the late 1700′s was going to be the new big thing; “Black is Sterling and will last forever”

strong yet playful piece (subject: popcorn) by Barbara Breedon entitled “Wheelers of Course” which is a farm in Hudson, Ohio that Mary frequented as a child and remembers the popcorn fondly.

Tucked behind every sleek panel in the kitchen is a hidden alcove for very well-thought-out storage.

The sink has a great setup. With two large bays, a swiveling wall-mounted Bulthaup faucet and a cutting board that sits in the grooves of the sink edge, you can prep and clean just about anything with efficiency. Each panel behind the sink opens to reveal storage for cleaning supplies, spice racks, knife storage, a murphy-bed-style fold-out cutting board, and more.

 

After years of custom range tops—in homes Mary has designed—she found a 4-burner side-by-side range top. This one is by Foster for Bulthaup kitchens. This allows Chris & Mary to cook up gourmet meals without leaning over other simmering pots. According to them it really opens up the work space. AND you don’t have that small stretch of counter in the back that is impossible to clean. I love this solution!

Note the uniquely designed range hood. The strip along the bottom is a light and the seven long skinny panels above it swivel open individually when the vent is turned on.

Also by Bulthaup are the ingenious in-wall accessories, including this great little cookbook rest to the right of the range.

Appliances by Miele. Refrigerator (above) and Freezer (below) are cleanly hidden in the two right cabinets. There is ample space for the couple’s daily needs but they have a refrigerator in the basement for when they entertain large crowds or bring game birds home from a hunting trip.

a view from the sitting area into the wet bar

Three french-made Guinea hen sculptures adorn the buffet

The paintings that flank the doorway into the original part of the home are by Colorado artist Warren

The wet bar (a miniature full kitchen) equipped with sink, 2 small refrigerators and more storage—house the coffee-maker, microwave and toaster oven. The painting to the right of the window is by prominent Colorado artist, Molly Davis.

The wet bar (a miniature full kitchen) equipped with sink, 2 small refrigerators and more storage—house the coffee-maker, microwave and toaster oven.

Sink and counters by stone fabricator out of Bellows Falls, VT

the slick and hidden double-decker refrigerator in the wet bar

 

The front of the home. Still in progress as they landscape and build a stone wall to encapsulate what will be a robust herb and flower garden.

The entryway with sliding barn door

 

 

English Toffee Recipe

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I have been making the following recipe for English Toffee a lot recently. I found it on allrecipes.com and have tweaked it a bit and added some helpful tips for your preparation ease…and your taste buds.

It’s incredibly simple and makes for a divine host gift for a summer weekend away…hence my custom packaging (seen below.)

If your friends and family don’t like this toffee, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

Ingredients
2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Directions
In a large, heavy-bottomed, non-stick saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over low to medium heat, mixing CONSTANTLY with a small whisk. Allow to come to a simmer, and cook until the mixture becomes a warm amber color. Supposedly the temperature should reach 285 degrees F (137 degrees C) but I just drip a bit into ice water: if it becomes rock hard and brittle it’s ready to go.

As soon as the toffee reaches that proper temperature, pour it out onto 2 wax-paper-lined baking sheets and spread thin and even with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it sit for a minute or two to soften. Once melted/softened, spread the chocolate into a thin even layer. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and compress slightly.

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Once set, break into pieces. You can place the toffee in the freezer for a little while before you break into pieces and it will make the toffee even more brittle. Then store the toffee in an airtight container.

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20140613-162052-58852861.jpg
(Murdock is one of my nick names…this one coined by the friends we are staying with on The Cape this weekend)
Blue and white china (above) is Blue Fluted Full Lace by Royal Copenhagen.
Pink and gold oyster plate (below) is an antique but I found a few similarly shaped on eBay.
Here’s what the toffee with nuts looks like:

20140613-162701-59221249.jpg

Rhinestone Retro Rehab

I rehabbed a few pairs of damaged vintage deco earrings today and made a cuff bracelet to match with a salvaged beaded appliqué from a beat-up vintage dress from Salvation Army.

Earrings: I removed both the clip-on backs and post backs from the 2 pairs of earrings, to start. With fine, but heavy weight fiber wire I strung the earrings together and fastened them to new, stainless steel (hypo-allergenic) earring hooks. Side story, my grandmother wore the long rhinestone-cluster ones—that look like lincoln center’s huge exterior chandeliers—to Nixon’s inaugural ball in the late 60′s. They are my absolute favorite but were both missing a bead at the top… and were clip-on.

 

Here’s what I did to make the bracelet:

 1. Using crazy glue I secured the beads around the edges and trimmed excess fabric and thread.
2. I traced the appliqué onto the back of a leather sample (I used turquoise for a pop of color) and cut the leather smaller by an eighth of an inch all the way around so that it would not show from the other side once bent into shape.
3. Using thick, heavy-duty woven art-hanging wire and a pair of wire cutters, I ran a spiral around the leather piece—with about a half-inch setback from the edges—and secured it in place with hot glue. (sorry, forgot to shoot his part!)
4. Once the wire was set in place on the leather, I ran a bead of hot glue around the outside edge of leather piece and several more lines along the center and then adhered it to the back of my beaded appliqué. I pressed firmly on both sides to secure them together.
5. Once glue had cooled and set completely, I bent the piece to form a cuff and fit it around my wrist an adjusted as necessary.