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Polymer Clay Fail

I’ve been wanting to make polymer clay things for ages.  There are so many beautiful examples online.  Watching YouTube tutorials is a little addictive, and there are a hundred different ideas for things you can make and sell with the stuff.

For those who don’t know, polymer clay comes in a range of colours and you can sculpt whatever you desire.  Charms, figurines, or beads.  Then you bake it in the oven to harden it.  Popular brands are Fimo, Sculpey and Premo.

When I was very young, my grandparents had Fimo at their house and I remember playing with it.  I can’t recall anything that I made though.  It’s been on my list of things to try for a long time, and finally a YouTube tutorial sucked me in.  This one…

I figured it was simple enough to get started and I only needed to buy two colours to begin with.  I passed on the white because I am an extremely mucky person, and ordered black and a lovely grey from eBay.  Once they arrived, I set to playing.

For some reason I didn’t take any progress pictures, which is annoying now that I come to write about it.  But it turns out that sculpting is something I’m not very good at.  There are a few crafts that I enjoy, but that I’m not at all talented at.  Much much more practice is needed.

The cat in the video proved completely beyond me.  I ended up making a very simple rabbit, and then a flat cat image I found online.

The next step was to bake them.  The YouTube videos all say to follow the directions on the packet but these are a little complicated.  It gives a temperature and time per a certain thickness, which took me some time to figure out.  Apparently I got it wrong.  Wrong temperature, wrong time.

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The paper is supposed to remain untouched.  And as for the pieces.  Remember I told you I bought a nice grey colour?  It’s this lovely blue-grey here…

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(The colour is called Tranquility if you’re interested).

I show you this because my completed pieces bear absolutely no resemblance to that.

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I’ve done plenty of research since, and have found out what I did wrong.  I think.  My temperature was way too high and I have bought, as suggested by a few people, an internal oven thermometer.  The surface I baked it on wasn’t ideal so I’ve bought a ceramic tile and some foil trays.

I will be having another go at making polymer clay pieces soon.  Hopefully I’ll do a bit of a better job at the baking.  As for the actual sculpting, well that can only improve with practice.  I hope.

 

Attempting Melted Crayon Art

I’m sure you’ve all seen images of melted crayon art on the internet.  Like these…

This one from Instructables.com

And the several million you can find by searching “melted crayon art” on Pinterest.  And it’s not just the crayons either.  You can add a little drawing and turn it into something even more spectacular.

CrayonGogh on Etsy makes incredibly beautiful pieces, like this one featuring Elsa.

Trying this has been on my list of things to try for a while, and I finally got around to it.  I got myself crayons, some canvas, a glue gun and a heat gun and got started.  I wanted to do something simple to start off with, so just used the seven crayons.

Well, it melted…

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I just don’t think it looks all that great.

I did end up with quite a few cuttings of crayons, because I experimented with different size pieces of crayon, and I tried putting them on small canvases and aiming a heat gun at them.

They also melted…

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I’m not entirely impressed with the results.  But I guess it takes a bit of practice.  I’ll have to have another go at some point.  Maybe try a different palette.  The majority of the pictures online use rainbows.  I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t go with rainbow to start with.

Have any of you tried melted crayon art?  How did yours turn out?

 

Workshop Review

At the Make It exhibition way back in February, Cayden and I attended a two hour workshop.   It was run by a representative of a company called Powertex, who make fabric and textile stiffeners and associated bits and pieces.   The particular workshop we attended was to, as the workshop programme said: “decorate a bottle using a range of Powertex products and various pigments.”

Cayden and I love to do workshops and we’d tried most of the other crafts on offer, so we turned up excitedly for this one.  It was quite a long session, but that’s because there was so much to learn.  It was a little difficult to see what was going on in the demonstration because of the way they’d positioned us, but we managed.

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The original demonstration was a little bit dull, but it was choc-a-block full of information.  And there were some tips from the other participants too.  Powertex works best on certain types of fabric, and apparently if you burn a scrap of cotton it turns to ash rather than melting.  I never knew that, although it does make sense now.

Once the demo was over, we got stuck in.  Literally.  There was a lot of goo.

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We’d been told several times by the demonstrator not to over saturate our scraps of fabric, so everyone was a little bit timid.  It took us a long time to get things properly saturated.

The basic method was to soak fabric pieces in the Powertex stiffener and apply to your bottle, adding anything you’d like to add texture, like the little clay faces and hearts they provided us with.

Once you’d got your bottle fully covered, without getting too much on yourself if possible, the bottles need to dry.  They had a fantastically genius method of doing this at the workshop.  They had an old display cabinet that they’d cut a hole in the top and applied a hair dryer to, so we only had to wait twenty minutes or so rather than the two days it would take naturally.

The next step was adding the highlights with the pigments.  Pretty pretty pigments.

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I’m not so good with brushes.  I have very little control, and can be very heavy handed.  There were some excellent tips from the demonstrators, such as brushing as much off as you can onto a scrap of paper… or the handy table wrapping.

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But I did manage to come up with a completed bottle.  Eventually.

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It’s not so great.  Cayden did a much, much better job with his.

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I’m very intrigued by this Powertex.  I have a few ideas for it in the future, but they’ll have to be quite a way in the future.  My ideas list is quite long 🙂

 

Book Hedgehog (and a contest!)

Remember when I wrote about those adorable book hedgehogs I’d seen?  Well I finally got around to making one.

It’s actually a very simple process.  Just two folds.  You fold your book page in half, then fold one corner in.

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Very easy.  You just repeat those two steps over and over again.

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And over and over and over.  Now, common sense should have told me that this would be quite a time consuming process.  However I don’t actually have much common sense.  It took me about an hour to make my hedgehog.

The number of pages you need varies depending on the thickness of the pages.  I found that when I got to this point…

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…I couldn’t really fit any more pages in, and my hedgehog seemed nicely full.  So I tore off the rest of the book and moved on to the next step.  The decorating.  I added a button for his nose, and some nice big googly eyes, as well as little shapes of spare book page for ears.  And here he is:

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Here he is at work, too…

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He doesn’t have a name yet, but I have narrowed it down to a few options:

  • Eugene
  • Spike
  • Horace
  • Ziggy
  • Quilliam
  • Wells

I can’t decide though.  Let me know what you think and there may well be a prize in it for one of you 🙂

Hama Bead Mario

One of the most prolific crafts that I have is Hama beading.  You’ll find LOTS of items in the store, and I have a whole bunch more to add too.  I’m sure you’ll recognise the craft.

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You lay the coloured beads in a pattern on a pegboard and then iron them to fuse them together.  In America the prevailing brand is called Perler, so that’s what the craft is known as there.

As much as I love when people buy my Hama pieces, it gives me a little thrill when a little kid comes up to my table at a fair, points to the Hama pieces and says something along the lines of “Mummy, I have these!”  I feel like I’m renewing their interest, and I like to think they go home and get those beads out and get crafting.  I’m all for spreading the craft love.

Recently I’ve been trying to work through all the things on my bucket list, and one of those things was to create a timelapse video of a Hama bead piece.  And I found the perfect time to do that on March 10th – also known as Mar 10 – also known as Mar10 day!

What do you think?  I used an app called Lapse It, and I need to jiggle around with the settings a little, but for a first attempt it wasn’t bad.  The end result looks pretty good too….

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Origami Business Card Holder

As well as selling my goodies online, I like to attend craft fairs and summer fetes and things.  I’ve only done four so far, and I’m learning new things each time.

Last year I was invited by Ellie at Ultimate Gift Packs to have a stall at the Christmas Fair she was running at Weyhill Fairground Craft and Design CentreCayden and I had a great time, and I look forward to attending again this year.  Weyhill Fairground is a beautiful little place, and we plan to get back at some point this year for a proper look around.

While we were there I wandered around the stalls quite a bit, like I always do.  I spent a wee bit of money at some beautiful stalls – I’ll blog about those later.  As I said, I learn new things at every fair.  I get new ideas for stock, and for display, and just general things I’d never thought of.  One idea that really struck me was having a cute way to display my business cards.

So far I’ve just had a little pile of them on the table, but the STARescue Small Animal Rescue Centre stall had a fantabulous idea!  A book hedgehog.  For some silly reason I didn’t take a picture at the time, but there are tons of them online if you search.  Like this one by Clara Maffel on Flickr…

Folded Hedgehog Book

I also found this adorable Harry Potter one from Pinterest.

That one leads to a dead Etsy link, but there are lots of others on there if you want to buy one.  This cute little bespectacled one…

…has sold, but the seller, Maplewood Book Art, has a LOT of really cute folded book art that is just so inspiring.

I could bombard you with picture of hedgehogs all day, but I’ll restrain myself.  Just this last one, which you can buy at Creation Crafts and Gifts – to show you how to display business cards in one.

Folded books and altered books are things I’d like to try, but I have a very long list of things I want to try and haven’t quite got around to yet.  But when I saw a video pop up on my YouTube subscription feed for a place card holder, I thought that’d be perfect to hold my business cards.

I used a 12×12″ sheet of craft card rather than origami paper, and by the end some of the folds were quite difficult.  But for a first attempt I think it looks pretty good.

PicMonkey Collage

I will be making some more for practice.  Maybe I’ll use a thinner paper next time.  Keep your eyes peeled for updates, and hopefully a book hedgehog of my very own!

Note: I’m submitting this blog post to Skip To My Lou‘s Made By You Monday.  It’s my first time, and I hope it’s okay 🙂  Let me know what you think.

Make It Exhibition

On Friday 26th February, my good friend Cayden and I attended the Make It show in Farnborough.  This show is actually two fantastic shows in one.  As well as the Make It show – advertised as “the inspiring exhibition for card makers and paper crafters” – there is also the Knit & Stitch It show – “the exhibition for Southern needle crafters and stitchers”.

The show is located in the exhibition centre in Farnborough, which is conveniently where Cayden lives.  So it’s a fairly easy one for us to get to.  We went to it last year, but neither of us were feeling particularly well.  We had a brilliant time though and especially enjoyed the beading workshop:

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We decided that we definitely needed to go again, and I’m so glad we did 🙂

Last year we made a note to bring more money.  This year we’ve made notes to bring even more money, as well as a shopping trolley!  There was a lot of shopping done – look for a Craft Haul blog post soon to find in detail what I bought – and lots of new ideas for crafts.

But, for once, we had a modicum of restraint.  We had a plan.  Workshop first, since it was at one end of the room, then zig zag up the aisles and see what caught our eye, lunch at the other end of the room, then shopping!

We did the workshop first – a wonderful bottle making workshop run by a company called Powertex.

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There’ll be a blog post all about that workshop soon I hope.

And then we did the zig zagging bit.  We managed to not spend money!  Which is a major success for me, if not for Cayden.  We have learned that we need to make a note of which stands we want to revisit though, because when we did get around to shopping, we’d lost at least one beading stand.

It’s easy to lose… there are a lot of stands.

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Lots of very nice things to look at.  Some stands that are a little confusing.  We’re still not sure how some of them fit the theme of the show – a stall selling hair clips, a handbag stall and a whisky stall for example.  But there were more than enough crafty goodies for us to look at, so we really didn’t mind.  And we definitely didn’t mind the inclusion of a fudge stand.

Lunch was delicious – bbq pulled pork with some fried potato bits.  A little over priced, but that wasn’t the fault of the exhibition runners.  It was the catering company they’d brought in.  No matter.  Next year we’ll remember to bring even more money for food.

The shopping was delightful!  So many goodies, at such good prices.  We’d both gone in with a shopping list and I think we managed to get a good chunk of those lists completed.  And then of course there were all the spur-of-the-moment I-must-have-it purchases.  More of those for me than for Cayden.  He has more restraint than I do.

We saw dozens of people with shopping trolleys, and I have to say they were absolutely genius!  I bought quite a few books of craft paper, and within just a few stands my shoulders were hurting from carting things around.  Definitely need a shopping trolley next year.

As I said, I will probably be doing a craft haul blog post some time soon, but here’s a sneak peak of my purchases:

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Cayden and I had a great time, and we’ll definitely be going back next year 🙂

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Fleshing Out an Idea

When an inkling of an idea inserts itself into your consciousness, sometimes it comes fully formed: I want to make a pompom garland.

In this case the next step is clear.  There are questions to be answered.  What method of making pompoms shall I use?  What size?  What colour?  How am I going to string them?  Will I add ribbons?  Bells?

Sometimes your inkling is less formed.  You may wake up one morning with the word “pompoms” emblazoned across your brain, with no clue where to go next.

Whether your inkling is a word or an idea, the next step is common to most crafters.  Research.  And this can come in many forms.  You could root through your own craft supplies.  You could take a stroll to your local craft store.  There are a multitude of books and magazines available for nearly all crafting endeavours.  But, if you’re anything like me, your first port of call will be this wonderful world wide web.

I LOVE the internet.  It is responsible for 99.99% of my hobbies, and for the many scrapbooks of ideas I have floating around waiting for me to work on.  And my first port of call when I have an inkling of an idea is Pinterest.

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Pinterest is a wonderfully ingenious, horribly addictive website.  Be warned – it is a bit of a rabbit hole.  Click one link too many and you’ll find yourself emerging 3 days later with a to do list a mile long.

I personally don’t pin things, but millions of other people do.  So when you search for something you’re presented with so many options you’ll have your idea fleshed out in no time.  Just searching “pompoms” presented a plethora of ideas.

Like this multi-coloured pompom, from the Minieco website.  The idea was pinned by 22 different Pinterest users.

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And this idea for making pompoms in bulk, from Flax & Twine.  Pinned by 43 people.

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Then there’s these adorable little sheep, by Mum in the Madhouse.  Pinned by 28 people.

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And these cute little Valentines bugs, from the Hobbycraft blog.  Pinned by 89 people.

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And that’s just a sample.  I now have a nice long list of things I want to try.  Keep your eyes peeled for the results.

 

The First Post Dilemma

The first post of a blog should be momentous, and interesting enough that anyone who reads it will want to come back for more.  This, however, has caused me no end of worry about what to post.

Do I jump straight in with a tutorial?  Or show you around my work station?  Or review my favourite crafty goodies?  All of these are things I have planned for this blog, along with many others.  I want to show you my design process, such that it is.  I want to reveal my crafting triumphs, and share my failures.  I want to give you gift suggestions at Christmas and Valentines.  I want to show you the things I make for myself.

I have all these plans and ideas.  But, as you may soon come to learn, I quite often have lots of plans and ideas for a venture.  More often than not they all get bottle-necked in my brain to the point that I have no idea where to begin.

So, instead of attempting to wow my new readers, I’m taking a different approach.  I will delight and interest and inspire and astonish you with posts to come, but for now my aim has been to intrigue you enough to return another day.