Desert Bus

In approximately 4 hours, an internet-based fundraiser called Desert Bus for Hope begins its 10th year.  I’ll let them explain it to you in detail, but the upshot is that for several days (the more money they raise, the longer they play) a bunch of volunteers play the world’s most boring computer game whilst simultaneously entertaining those with nerdish tendencies all over the world to raise money for a charity called Child’s Play.  The game in question is called Desert Bus, from an unreleased Sega game created by Penn & Teller where the player has to “drive a listing, unreliable, virtual bus on an endless, eight-hour-long strip of highway between Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada.”

One of the things they do to entertain all the nerds during this week-ish long marathon is to auction off goodies they receive from donors.  In the last few years, some of those donors have been participants of the craft-along.  And this year, I am one of those people!!


At some as-yet-undetermined time during the Desert Bus 10 run, they will be running a silent auction with these wonderful Hama place mats that depict the various shift logos.


That much-better-than-I-could-take picture was taken by the Desert Bus team for the prize page.. they got the blue one upside down.  But still – how cool do they look?

Here are the other fabulous pictures they took:

The photography isn’t quite as good, but I did create some time-lapse gifs of me making them.

Here’s the yellow one – also known as Dawn Guard, who control the bus between 6am and noon.


Here’s the red one – also known as Alpha Flight (noon – 6pm).  (Spot the bonus kitty tail).


After I had this one just ready to iron I decided (with help from some friends) that the colour contrast wasn’t quite right, so I remade a bit and did some cutting and pasting.

Next up is Night Watch (6pm – midnight)


And finally Zeta Shift (midnight – 6pm).  I kinda forgot to take a lot of pictures of this one, sorry.


I’m really proud of these pieces, and hopefully they’ll raise a bit of money for a good cause.

Note: one of my good friends, Sam, also sent in some things.  This absolutely phenomenal Thorn Hand Cannon replica…


…and this beautiful Shift Banners Dice Tower that I will most certainly be bidding for.


You can see more of Sam’s astounding work at his website, Sam’s Skunkworks, and watch this space for a special guest post from him sometime soon.


Boldly Bookbinding

One of my favourite YouTube channels is SeaLemon.  She does various crafts, but the majority of her videos are bookbinding ones.  I imagine there are a bajillion bookbinding tutorials on the internet, but Jennifer makes hers clear and bright and easy to follow, and interesting.  She makes you want to try them.

I started with the easiest method – saddle stitch – a few months ago.  I’ve had notebooks for sale in my store for a while.  This method really is very simple – punch a couple of holes and sew a whole ten stitches.


But you can’t make very thick books that way.  I’m eager to try all the other techniques.

Last week I used up the last page in my sketchbook and I didn’t have another one, so I decided I’d test a new bookbinding technique and make one.  I picked coptic stitch…

…and got my paper and board all set up.  I got started and found the method relatively easy to pick up, but had a few problems.  I kept getting tangled, especially with the second column of stitches from the left.


And I found that using a straight needle for the stitches was absolutely insane, I kept having to open and close the book and got tangled and just very frustrated, so I put the project aside and ordered a set of curved needles from eBay.  When they arrived I found the whole process so much easier.  I finished off the book and was pleased with the way the rest of the stitches looked – even though I couldn’t find the same colour thread I’d started with.

Once I had the curved needle I found the stitch simple and soothing.  It was fun.  So much so that I made another notebook…

…and another one…


…and another one…


…and another one.


I ended up doing coptic stitch all day and completely ignoring everything else I was supposed to be doing.

I still have a lot to learn.  My books are definitely not perfect.  Like this one: I used some paper I had precut from an old project and used some craft card for the cover which was a wee bit too small.  I didn’t bother to cut the paper down because I was basically just practising the stitch.  I’m not too fussed about neatness.


Which is just as well.  All of my crafts have a certain wonkiness to them.  It’s almost a trademark now.

I have some loose bits inside the signatures too….


and my signatures aren’t always aligned properly…

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…but again, I’m not too fussed about a little wonkiness.  I enjoy coptic stitch.  It really is soothing.  I’ll work on my precision a bit more and maybe add something to the store in the future.  In the meantime, there are a whole bunch of other bookbinding techniques to try.

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….

wewe 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!

Pokemon Go

I’ve never really been into Pokemon.  It kinda passed me by as a child.  But Pokemon Go has me totally addicted.  And, being who I am, when I become addicted to something I start to craft.

I just had to make some team badges…

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The big ones are 45mm and cost £1.  The little ones are 25mm and cost 50p.  They’re available to buy on my store here.

You can also pop along and buy them at the inaugural Pokemon Go Party hosted by the Pokemon Go Basingstoke page on Facebook. The event will be this Saturday, July 30th 2016, at Eastrop Park from 2pm-7pm.  Meet lots of other trainers in a beautiful park that just so happens to have lots of Pokestops.  There’ll probably be a few Lures floating around too 🙂

I will be there selling the team badges, as well as some Pokeball badges and even some Pokemon badges.  You’ll be able to “catch” Pikachu, Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle.

Hope to see you there 🙂

Origami Obsession

One of the crafts I love to do is origami.  As long as I can remember I’ve been folding little boxes from scraps of paper, and I make those pretty chains from candy wrappers too – come back in a day or two for some pictures.  So the natural evolution was to start doing “proper” origami.

I’ve done all kinds of lovely bits and pieces…

The problem that I have is that I can get a little bit obsessive.  When I find a pattern I like, I tend to make it again and again and again…

See those beautiful rainbow wreaths?  Here are some more…

Those little 8-pointed stars?

Like I said… a little bit obsessed.

You can buy my origami wreaths and stars in my store, here.  They hang very easily and make beautiful decorations 🙂

More Book Folding

After I made that adorable book hedgehog, I took to the internet to find more book folding ideas.  In terms of shapes like the hedgehog the most common things I found were fairy houses like these…

fairy house

.and candles like these…


But there is a whole other side to book folding.  You can retain the book shape and create an image in the edge of the pages.  Like these…

And there are a couple of different methods to do this.  Measure and Fold requires measuring down the side of the page at two points per page, and folding the corners to those marks.

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Cut and Fold requires marking the page at various points, cutting into the page a little and then folding back.

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Then there’s the Combi method, which folds the top and bottom corners and has the cutting method along the edge of the page.

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I’ve attempted the Measure and Fold method so far.  I started with a heart pattern I found attached to a YouTube tutorial…

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After that I went hunting for more patterns and found a website called Folded Book Art which has a LOT of lovely free patterns.  And I went a little nerdy.

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Generally these type of book folds are done with hardback books.  I’m told you can add card to the covers of a paperback book, but I’ve yet to try that.  I’ve recently been culling my books, so before I sent them off to the charity shop, I rescued a whole bunch of hardback books.  One was in beautiful condition, but very thin (usually you need several hundred pages), so I used it to test doing a letter.

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Next to try is a Cut and Fold pattern.  I’ll let you know how that goes.


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…


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

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

PicMonkey Collage

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

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 🙂


Nerd Alert

I am a nerd.  I love all things geeky, and I wanted to find a way to express this in my store.  So I’ve come up with a few things.

Firstly, I’ve made some nerdy badges…

You can buy all of these – and many more – on my store HERE.

I’d also love to hear your suggestions for more nerdy badges.

After the badges I wanted to do something with dice and meeples.  If you’re a tabletop gamer you’ve probably met a meeple.  It’s a little character token found in lots and lots of different board games.  They look like this…


So I bought myself a table clamp and a hand drill, and some meeples, resource cubes and dice and then I got to drilling.  I made a few prototypes that I’m quite pleased with.

I learned a lot making these, and there was a lot of trial and error.  But I was happy to move on.  The next step was buying supplies.  Conveniently I was going to a gaming convention where I managed to stock up easily.

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There’s still a lot of trial and error and experimentation to go for these, but they’ll be up on the store soon.  Keep an eye out.