25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 17

I may have gotten a little bit behind, forgive me.  Lots of fun crafts coming up though.

For Day 17 I used mini Hama beads.  These are, as it sounds like, mini versions of Hama beads.  Here’s the size difference.

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And for reference, on the right is one board for the regular Hama and on the left is TWO boards for the mini Hama.

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The beads are so small it’s impossible – for me and my fat fingers at least – to place them without using tweezers.  But there are benefits to using the mini version – you can get more detailed pieces without going really big, for example.  And it’s easier to make pieces for pendants and earrings without going to ridiculous sizes.

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Here they are, pre-ironing, with a tealight candle for scale.

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And here they are post-ironing.

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After that it was a case of connecting to ear wires using jump rings.  Unfortunately, they’re very thin and I’m still getting the hang of handling them.  As you can see, there was a minor casualty.

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But I’ve worn the completed pair for a couple of days, and there’s been no more breakages.

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More practice with Mini Hama is definitely needed.

25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 15

Day 15 is a little bit of embroidery.  I have limited experience with embroidery – well, unless it’s cross-stitch or blackwork.  I thought I’d written a blog post about this already, but when I looked for it to link to I found that I’d written it but hadn’t actually got around to posting it.  I’ll post it in the New Year at some point, along with all the other drafts I’ve written.

In the meantime, here is Day 15.

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It’s not perfect,  but I’m quite pleased.

25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 10

Day 10 is an old traditional favourite… paper snowflakes!

Now, I used to do them like this.  I’d take a square of paper, and fold it in half diagonally over and over again until it looked like this, drawing a curve to make a rounded snowflake.

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I’d draw on a pattern at random…

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…and then cut it out.

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At which point I’d be vaguely cheery until I saw some of the fancier ones online.  This year I did some research!  First of all, I’ve been folding the paper all wrong.  This video shows you how you’re meant to do it:

So I made one, to keep as a template for next year, and a whole bunch to play with today.

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Now, I’ve collected a LOT of snowflake designs in the past, and I plan on getting round to all of them eventually.  But I started with the three designs posted in the middle of the tutorial video.

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My folding isn’t particularly precise, and I was using the worst pair of scissors I own, but don’t they look fab?

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After that I took a picture I’d found on Twitter…

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..zoomed in and figured out the patterns.

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They don’t look like the originals, cos I didn’t have all the angles and things right, but they do look good.

The last two I improvised, and they’re definitely better than my old style.

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The one on the left especially points out the failings of my foldings.  The centre is all squiffy.  I need to work on my precision.

There are seven hundred bajillion thousand snowflake designs online if you know what to search for and where to look.  I have a good percentage of those sitting in my ideas folder, so I’m fairly sure there’ll be more paper snowflakes this year 🙂

25 Crafts of Christmas – Day 7

Day 7 was, apart from being 2 days ago, a failure.  But it was an interesting experiment in a craft I don’t have a lot of experience with.  Once upon a time I was intrigued by chainmail and I made this very badly photographed bracelet.

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That was back in 2010.  Since then an interest in chainmail has continued, but I’ve never really gotten around to working on it.  Then, when searching through my ideas folder for this 25 Crafts of Christmas thing, I found this picture and an attached scan from “Step By Step Wire Jewelry, Winter 2010” (The pattern was designed by Shelley Hubbs who has a website at Metaldesignz.com).

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I thought, well they look fairly simple.  I could make those.  So I looked at the pattern, made a note of what rings I needed, and had a look on eBay.  The actual sizes required were 2.4mm and 4mm rings, which seemed VERY small to me.  So I tried to maintain the ratio and scale up.

Which brings us up to December.  I gathered my supplies…

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…and started off reasonably well.

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At this point I realised that all the smaller rings needed to be closed, and in coloured pairs.  So I spent a good hour doing that, and getting a small sore on the end of one finger as a result.  But I had lots of pairs.

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And then I continued.  I still had two rows to go when I realised that it wasn’t quite working..  Here’s where I stopped.

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With context, you can see that it’s meant to be a Christmas tree, but there are a few problems.

The ring size ratio is off – I really should have gone with the original sizes.  The green rings that I bought are way too soft – I didn’t even need pliers to manipulate them.  The multi-coloured rings I bought, from a different eBay seller – are all slightly different sizes, and different finishes.

Being unhappy with your materials is a surefire way to be unhappy with your finished product, so I stopped there and called it an experiment.  In the New Year, when my finances have recovered a little from the holidays, I’ll get some rings from an online beading shop that my friend Cayden uses, and I’ll get the proper sizes, and I’ll have another go.

 

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.

35,000 Origami Elephants

I’m subscribed to quite a few YouTube channels for various crafty things, and last week I got an email alerting me that EzOrigami had released a new video; a tutorial for an origami elephant.  I liked the look of the elephant at the start….

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..so I watched the video.

Before the tutorial Evan explains that he’s making the elephant for a campaign run by the 96 Elephants organisation.  Named after the 96 elephants a day that are killed in Africa, this organisation works to stop the ivory trade.  On their homepage is a petition you can sign that says…

We cannot be the generation that allows elephants to disappear.

I pledge to support measures aimed at combating the global ivory trade.

The origami campaign is an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Display of Origami Elephants.  The current record is 33,764.  96 Elephants are aiming for 35,000 – which is the number of African elephants killed each year for their ivory.

You can join this campaign and help by posting them some origami elephants.  That’s all you have to do.

I made these ones..

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I used the EzOrigami video, but you can make any style of elephant – as long as it is obviously recognisable as an elephant – then just post them off.

All the information is on this page here, including some templates for origami elephants if you don’t have one.

The deadline to receive the elephants is September 16th 2016, so get folding!

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 🙂

 

Craft Haul!

I love the internet trend of posting craft hauls.  I love seeing what bits and pieces other people have been buying.  And since I did a “wee bit” of shopping at the Make It exhibition a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d show you all what I got.

I showed you a few pictures in the main post, so lets start with some of those.

Papers!  Lots of craft paper books.  All so very pretty.  I use them for card making, and origami, and cutting up to make cabochons.  So far anyway.  I’m sure I’ll find more uses for them as I gather more crafts under my belt.

I got a big hunk of A4 white card for general card needing purposes, as well as some A3 white card.  The plan for that is some wrapping paper templates that have been requested/suggested.  But plain paper is kinda boring, so lets move on to more pretty things.

YARN!  Given how many yarn stalls there were, I was very well behaved.  Only two balls!

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Yes, I know there’s only one ball in that picture, but by the time I got around to taking photos I’d already turned the red ball into some of these little guys…

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You can buy my adorable mini aliens here.

One of the workshops that was on offer at Make It was to make a beaded snowflake.  (Picture taken from the Make It blog).  snowflake

Cayden and I were both interested, but we’d already booked a workshop, and we figured they were fairly simple to do.  Which is very true.  I’d had an attempt before, a long time ago.  But I discovered that the wire needs to be much much stiffer.

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So when my eagle-eyed friend spotted these at one of the many beading stalls, I snapped up a pack.  Look for pretty snowflakes at some point in the future..

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One of my favourite stalls last year was Every Craft’s £1, and I really hoped they’d be there this year too.  They were, and they’re responsible for more than one of those packs of paper.  I also stocked up on sheets of A4 magnet, although I have discovered since that the one I picked is a little too thick to cut smoothly.  While we were perusing their wares, I spotted these…

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… and picked up a few.  I have a bunch of ideas for decorating them and making them beautiful enough to add to the store.  They’re on the ever-expanding to do list 🙂

There were a few bits and pieces I’d been after for a while and finally got a chance to pick up.  Like embroidery thread spools.

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A pair of snips, which I have become completely obsessed with.  I have to say the word “snips” every time I use them, and I may have been on eBay since to buy a few more pairs.

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A sample of the E6000 glue that the internet raves about.

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And a heat gun!  This had been on my list for ages, and there was a stall selling a couple at half price, so I couldn’t resist.

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I also bought a couple of pairs of eyeglass holder loop thingies.  I’m supposed to wear glasses, but always forget.  It was suggested to me that I need a chain, and I figured I could easily make something pretty.  So these loop thingies are currently sitting on my desk waiting to be transformed.

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I bought buttons.  Because I love buttons!  And because my box of buttons sorted nicely into rainbow colours was severely lacking in some areas.

One of my favourite purchases from last year was a £5 goody bag, containing lots of randomness.  It was something I’d planned on getting again this year.  And inside was, as promised, lots of goodies.

See… many many goodies.  I used a few of them to make a poster for Mother’s Day that my my sister and I hung around the neck of the 4ft gnome we got her.

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And that’s my first craft haul blog.  What do you think?  Should I do more, or abandon the idea altogether?

Stocking Up

As well as this online store, I’ve been to a few craft fairs and school fetes to sell my wares in the last year.  I haven’t done a lot, but I look to do a lot more.

Every one that I attend brings new ideas and new acquaintances.  I have a very long list of ideas that I will one day get through.

One thing I have definitely learned though is that – at school fetes at least – cheap sells well.  There tend to be a lot of kids, and they like things that they can afford with their pocket money.  My best seller by far at these fairs has been these bangles:

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You can click on the image to find them in my store.

They sell for just 50p, but they sell like hotcakes.

With plans to do many more fairs this year, I decided I should stock up.  I may have gotten a bit carried away.

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There are 160 there.  Like I say, I may have gotten a bit carried away.  But in theory I won’t have to make any more for a while.

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