25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 4

Day 4 is relatively simple, because I’m at a craft fair today.  Well, it was supposed to be simple.

I’ve recently become the owner of some circle punches, for various reasons which I will be getting into in the new year.  And so when I was rooting through my ideas folder and came across this picture…

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… I thought, Ooo, I can do that.  And so I grabbed my bag of circles…

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… and dug out all the green ones.  And then I got my box of craft paper and punched myself some more green ones, until I had a lot.

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The next step was to cut and glue down a trunk – although I couldn’t find any brown paper so it’s a plant pot.

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The next step was a bit of experimentation.  I laid out some circles in various ways…

…until I decided the winging it technique works best.  And so I started gluing.  Which is of course when one of the cats decided to come and play.

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After a whole bunch of kitty cuddles, I got back to my little tree.

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I got a bit carried away and ended up going over the edges a wee bit, but I’m pleased with how it looks.

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The circle with a star wasn’t punched deliberately, but when I found it in my pile of green circles I knew it had to go on top.

I have lots and lots of green circles left…

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…so I may well make one (or three) more 🙂

 

 

25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 3

Here we are again!  Today I decided to try something I hadn’t done before.  Glue gun snowflakes.  I’ve seen images and videos of these all over the internet for years, but never gotten around to trying one.  Until today!

Step one:

Print off a template and tape to table.

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Step two:

Tape baking paper over the top.

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Step three:

Locate glitter glue sticks.  You should probably do this first actually, or you might have baking paper taped to your desk for a few days while you wait for delivery.

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Step four:

Use the remaining plain glue in your gun by testing the first snowflake.

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Step five:

Get giddy when the glitter starts appearing exactly in time for your second snowflake.

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Step six:

Trace out another snowflake, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.  (Add more glue sticks as necessary.  You will use more than you think you will).

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Step seven:

Move on to a more complicated design.  I taped the stencil and the baking paper to my cutting mat this time, so I could turn the canvas and make it a little easier.

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Step eight:

Leave to dry.

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Step nine:

Peel from the baking paper.  This should be really easy.

Step ten:

Use scissors to trim off all the strings.

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Step eleven:

Admire the sparklies.

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It’s quite hard to keep a consistent pressure on the trigger of the glue gun, but it’s important to do. You don’t want to have weak points in your snowflake.  Also. you should probably use smaller scissors than I did to trim off your strings.  You’ll get a neater effect then.

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25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 2

Here’s Day 2 of the 25 Crafts of Christmas series I started yesterday.  I’m doing well at posting daily so far 🙂

Day 2 is a Christmas Hama piece.  A nerdy themed Christmas Hama piece, because I am nerdy.

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And here’s the finished, ironed piece.

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Isn’t it cute?  I’m not entirely happy with the colour of his “flesh”.  I switched them out a few times but I don’t own any shade that I was happy with.  I might have to see if there are any Hama shades I don’t have yet.  Or maybe branch out into other brands.  It’s something to think about in the new year.

 

25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 1

25 Crafts of Christmas is something I’ve wanted to do for a few years, I just tend to forget about it.  I get halfway through December and think “oo, that’d be a good idea”.  Last year I wrote myself a note in my diary for midway through October to start planning it, and then another note for midway through November to ACTUALLY start planning it.

Well here we are, December 1st and guess what?  I actually did it!  I have a list of 25 crafts.  31 actually, because I love crafts and I love Christmas.  Admittedly, days 27-31 aren’t actually planned, they’re just plans to play with the craft bits I’ll be getting for Christmas.  Still, it’s craft.

Day 1 is a button Christmas tree.  I’ve made these before.  In fact, I’ve been selling them at Christmas school fairs for a year or two, and they’re in the ever-increasing pile of things I need to add to the website…

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I can’t remember when I got it – or if I got it for myself or if it was a gift – but this has been pinned to my noticeboard for a while now.

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So I thought I’d finally get around to making it.

The kit doesn’t come with instructions, but it’s relatively easy to figure out, even if you haven’t made one before.  Here’s a close up of the picture…

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…and here is the contents of the little pack.

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Step 1 – sort the buttons into size order, keeping four of the smallest aside for the trunk.  (And add a needle for ease of threading).

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Step 2 – Start with the star and thread on all the main buttons starting from the smallest one – don’t forget to leave the trunk for last.

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Step 3 – threading through the opposite hole on the button…

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…thread back up the tree and pull tight.

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Step 4 – tie several knots to keep the piece in place, and then a knot a little bit further up to hang.  Et voila!

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And that’s the 1st of 25 Crafts of Christmas.

I plan on writing a blog post a day for this little run, but I’m not going to promise.  I will get all 25 crafts in though 🙂  Hopefully before 2017.

 

 

More About Desert Bus

Remember I told you about Desert Bus?   It was my first time watching, as well as crafting for them, and I have to say it was AMAZING.  159 hours of utter madness and nerdness.  As a human being, I was unable to watch ALL of it, but I’m catching up on the bits I missed on their YouTube channel.

I donated quite a bit of money during the week, although not as much as I’d like to have done.  Now I know why the friends who introduced me to it save all year.  I’ll be doing the same for next year.  Not only is Child’s Play an extraordinary charity and completely worthy of every dollar they receive, but there were some fabulous pieces up for auction and given away on donation drives.

My placemats…

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(picture taken by the Desert Bus team)

… were auctioned off towards the end of the run, in an eBay style silent auction that ran for 8 hours.  I watched most of those 8 hours quite closely, refreshing the page over and over again.  I was absolutely ecstatic to see how much they raised.  $444.44    (There was a lot of number-nerdity in Desert Bus).

I’m really proud that someone out there is  (or will soon be) in possession of my work, and I’m ridiculously proud that I raised so much money for Desert Bus and Child’s Play.

Within the first few hours of the run, I started getting ideas for next year’s craftalong.  By the end, I had a hundred ideas and was itching to get started.  I’ll keep you posted 🙂

 

Random Craft Quiz – Part 2

Here’s the next part of that random craft quiz I started last week:

11) Are you a yarn snob?

Absolutely not!  My favourite yarn ever is Red Heart Super Saver, which is from America.  They don’t sell it in this country (UK) though, so you have to buy lots and lots at a time to make the shipping worth it.  Not that I have a problem with that, but I can rarely afford it.  My second favourite, and my go-to yarn, is Stylecraft Special – an acrylic double knit yarn that comes in sooooooo many colours.

12) What was the last yarn you purchased?

I’m trying to stash-bust this year, so I haven’t been buying yarn.  Aside from some insanely gorgeous yarn from Twinkly Knits that I bought my friend for his birthday.  Very pretty.  I don’t have a picture, but you should go look at the Facebook page and see all the lovely goodies.

13) What is the last crafting related purchase you made?

Ink stuff.  I got given a dip pen for my birthday and it pushed me right over the edge into a fountain pen/inks/lettering obsession – you can read all about that here.

14) How often do you keep a project you’ve made?

I have always had trouble giving things away.  If I was deliberately making something for someone, it wasn’t a problem.  But there are crafters who will make something, then just decide to give it away.  I can not do that.  I actually started this store because I was making many many things, and running out of places to put them.  Now it’s probably about 30/70 – 30% for me, and 70% for the store and gifts.

15) What is your work-space like?

Too small.  But then I have a suspicion that no matter how big it was, I’d expand to fill it and then find it too small anyway.  I will do a work-space tour blog at some point.

16) Where do you do most of your crafting?

At my desk, or in my armchair.  I’m a homebody, I don’t go out a lot.

17) How would you describe your crafting style?

Bright and wonky.  Most of my bits, especially my plushies, are ever so slightly not-quite-right.

18) What aspect of your craft would you most like to improve?

Fitting everything in.  Every so often I’ll realise that I haven’t done a particular craft in forever, so I’ll do that non-stop for a couple of days, until I realise that I haven’t done another craft in ages.  I do lots and lots crafts.  It’s hard to keep track.

19) What tool or accessory would you like to acquire next?

I’d really like a Cricut machine, but it’s way beyond my budget.

20) How big is your yarn stash?

I can actually give you an exact figure for this, thanks to the stash busting challenge I’m doing.  206 balls of yarn – that doesn’t include yarn that has is part of a project already.

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I’m going to end part 2 here.  No pictures this time, but lots of links for you to investigate.

 

 

Down the Fountain Pen Rabbit Hole

Over the last year or so, my friend Cayden has been collecting fancy fountain pens, and teaching himself calligraphy.  It inspired me to dig my few pens out – I have 4 Parker pens that I’ve accumulated over the years, but I got out of the habit of using them.

And then, for my birthday, my friend Hannah got me one of these…

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It’s not a fountain pen, it’s a dip pen.  Otherwise known as a nib holder – the nibs are removable and interchangeable.

Cayden set up my interest, and Hannah pushed me right over the edge.  Since then I’ve watched a whole bunch of YouTube channels, and spent a whole bunch of money on pens and ink samples, and special paper.  Even paraphernalia like ink syringes, and a bulb syringe to help cleaning, and sample bottles for when I get around to mixing inks and things.  I’ve become a little obsessed, but this is nothing new.  This is how I approach any new hobby.

Here is my collection as it stands today…

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I have the four Parker pens I started with on the left, followed by the four pens from the Manuscript Calligraphy Compendium that Cayden gave me, followed by two Jinhao pens that I bought myself off eBay and then my nib holder.

I also have two bottles of ink – the ink that came with the set from Hannah, decanted into a glass tub, and a glass tub of Parker Quink Black, along with four samples of very pretty inks.

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And then I have cartridges and converters too.  The Parker pens use proprietary cartridges so they’re in a separate bag.  My other pens all take the international standard.

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I have records too, of course.  I have a notebook with sample writings and some durability tests of the different inks.  I have pages comparing all the inks of the same colour.  I have a folder of worksheets I’ve collected from the internet.

I may be a little obsessed.  But I’m having fun.  As ever, the collecting and the organising is as much a hobby for me as the craft itself is.  And I’m looking forward to getting more involved in the calligraphy and the lettering.  I’ve already been practicing.

These pieces were done using watercolour paint and the dip pen that Hannah got me.  The gradient takes a bit of work to get used to, but I’m really happy with the results.  Keep an eye out for more lettering pieces soon.

Random Experiment

So, I have these stamping inks…

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…and in the post the other day I received these stencils that I’d ordered from eBay.

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I had the random thought that the stamps could make a really pretty pattern if  used the whole stencil at once.  First I did some random stamping to test…

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I wasn’t doing it in the best of conditions however, and it didn’t turn out too well…

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I was doing it on my lap, not a particularly stable surface.  And the paper might not have been great.  More experimentation will occur.

Getting into Glass Etching

One of the crafts on my quite long list of crafts I want to try is glass etching.  And recently I got around to having a go.

There are various methods available, including an engraving pen – but some of them require a modicum of hand-control.  I’m not so good at that.  So I went with the relatively simple paste method.

I ordered myself a small bottle of Armour Etch Cream.  The method is very straightforward.  1) Apply stencil.  2) Apply cream.  3) Wait for one minute.  4) Wash off the cream.

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I used a pane of glass from an old photo frame, and was very pleased by the results.  So more experimentation was due.  The Pokeball was made using a vinyl stencil from eBay, like this one:

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I found a stencil I’d used before for something else and tested to see if it was okay to reuse a vinyl stencil…

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Which it kinda is.  There’s a slight wonk to Pikachu’s tail, but you can barely notice it.  I suspect that stencils are certainly reusable as long as you’re better at reapplying them to the backing tape than I am.  Practice is needed there.

But surely there would/could be other ways of applying an image to the glass.   I tried taping down an old plastic purple stencil.but found that the paste seeped under the edges.

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So I tried gluing the stencil down using Pritt Stick, but that didn’t really work either.

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I did try using a thinner stencil, with Pritt Stick, and the results weren’t horrendous…

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…but I decided that adhesive stencils were the way to go.

I tried using stickers which worked well.  The star on the left was made using the backing sticker from the star on the right.

Obviously using a sticker creates a silhouette, so I tried using masking tape to create a shape which worked great 🙂

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I tried printing my own circle shape outline onto sticker printer paper, which was a success..

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…and the letters was a fairly genius idea.

I did a bit more research into methods at this point.  A lot of people on YouTube had suggestions – like leaving the paste on a lot longer than the original instructions suggest, and different ways of applying the paste in the first place.

Time to move on to actual glasses!  Here’s where I discovered that the curved surface presented a whole new set of problems.  You need to pay proper attention when placing the stencil otherwise you’ll get creases and bubbles, which are never good.  You need to make sure your stencil lays completely flat in order to get a nice smooth shape.

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You also need to make sure you have control of your paste – otherwise it will dribble over the edge of your stencil and/or tape and you’ll end up with little bits of etching where there isn’t supposed to be any.

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After that I started taping off the rest of the glass, just to be safe.

Another thing I learned is to be careful about paste going into the glass itself.  I made this beautiful design…

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See where I’d tucked the point of that top left star over the edge of the glass?  Well the paste got inside the glass and now there’s a little shadow on that star.

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I didn’t etch the whole glass for that piece, mostly because it would have used up more paste than I had.  But I think the effect is still awesome.

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My etching isn’t entirely consistent yet, but I kinda like that.  It makes it look handmade rather than machined.  Still, I know I’ll improve with practice, and that’s never a bad thing.