Sunday, June 17, 2012

Grannies and groaning.

First off, welcome and hi to all those who are my partners for the follow my blog on swap-bot. I hope you all like what you see and enjoy my blog.

Sometimes it is just so darn cold here that I hardly feel like doing anything, let alone crafting but sometimes I just have to. Remember that online journalling class I wrote about? Well, it has been tons of fun and has pushed me right out of my comfort zone into the world of mixed media. Lesson one was basically about background techniques, which is a really great thing if you happen to have a journal with blank pages like mine. My favorite technique was a paint method where you sweep the paint across your page with a credit card. The page I made not only thrilled me but actually gave me an idea about the direction I want to go in concerning my journal. I have decided to make my journal an inspirational one, filled with quotes and cute sayings. Here is the page.

Doesn't this just remind you of swirly ice-cream?
A project I have been working on is another blog. There is just so much I want to do and am too cold or uninspired to get around to so I have made a blog of pictures and free patterns, all for the love of granny squares. They are so easy and there is so much you can do with them that I could not help myself, not to mention the cornucopia of drool-licious pics on pinterest. You can read Nasreens granny goodness over at Nasreen squared and if you have any questions or looking for pattern ideas or comments about  what you would like to see then don't hesitate to drop me a message or leave a comment.

Onto more personal stuff, my friend had a baby a week ago and at the beginning of her pregnancy I had promised her a baby blanket. I started on a very ambitious project and got overwhelmed quite early on in the process. I shoved my work to the back of my yarn closet and forgot about it. The baby boy is now here and I have yet to produce a blanket.... YIKES! Okay, I just had to calm down and tell myself that I could do this. Grabbing the biggest hook I could find and all the loose balls of yarn in shades of blue, I got down to work.  Three days later I am happy to say that I have almost completed a baby afghan and it looks really good. I ran out of yarn and since I started on Friday  night I have to wait till the weekend is over to continue but there will be pics when it is done. It is basically 6 big-ish granny squares joined and then crocheted around, easy enough but still a job and a half. All things are possible though and my nickname is not McGuyver for nothing.

Hopefully by next post I will have a completed baby afghan, more inspirational journal pages and more of my crafty waffling but for now ... Ciao!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Supplies and Stash

Home made washi tape!

You might remember in my last blog how I mentioned signing up for an online creative journalling class, well this week I got the class materials list. The class is given by a lady in America and most of the class supplies are things that are readily available over seas, this however is no qualm for a crafty gal like myself after all "necessity is the mother of all invention".

The one item that had  troubled me was washi tape. I have being drooling over these little beauties for some time now and while I have heard that they are available in South Africa (although I have yet to come across them personally) the price for them is quite high, something like R50 per roll.While I do not mind spending money on drool-licious products, R50 for a roll of tape is just too much for anybody, no matter how crafty you are. So, now I have to find a way to improvise and get as close to the actual product as possible. I have seen some online tutorials that seem a bit messy and/or fussy and the result does not turn out quite how I like it. I had an epiphany this morning while writing to a friend of mine and it seemed quite a plausible idea.

I scoured my house for anything tissue or tissue-like and came up with a few bits that I had lying about. I had some tissue paper from a box of boots that the shoes were wrapped in, some origami cut-offs and a fancy paper napkin that I bought ages ago because I liked the print. First I tried the tissue paper. I laid it out as neat and wrinkle-free as I could get it and taped down some double sided tape, cut around the tape ( leaving about a centimeter of paper to make a pull tab) and cut around it as close to the double sided tape as I could and "Hey presto", instant washi tape that looks amazing. Second project was the napkin. I had to do this a few times over because I had to go through all the layers or white napkin under it but ended up with some very funky washi tape and the origami paper looked good too but a bit too bulky for my liking as I think the thinner the paper, the more authentic your washi tape. I also tried some magazine wording and distressed it with some ink. The final result is really pretty and as close enough to the real thing as I would have liked.

The tiger print is the napkin and the red/pink is the tissue paper

I am totally in my element with the whole washi making experience and cannot wait to make some more. This project is cheap, quick, mess free and the results are great. Best of all, you get to choose the print you like. While I suppose you could use just about any material you like,  I think the lighter the paper the better. Just think about all the washi tape you could make with the tissue paper in gift bags, used wrapping paper, I suppose even aluminum foil could work, the possibilities are endless. I would not however suggest using newspaper as the print might come off. If your tissue paper is a little wrinkled then just smooth it out against the tape, a little wrinkling adds character and gives it that 'home-made' feel because as my art teacher always said, " If you want perfect then buy it from a shop".

I know that I am probably not the first person to think of this but I do think it is a pretty cool idea and a frugal way to make use of paper that would have probably been binned so till next time ... Ciao!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Shopping sprees and savings

Winter is definitely upon us in the Southern hemisphere. I am delighted as I have always been a very Wintry type person. I love piling on tons of clothes, making mugs of soup or hot chocolate  and snuggling up in my room with  some cross stitching, crochet pattern or even just a good book. I would have done well as a bear because hibernating is like second nature to me, not to mention bulking up for the Winter ...pass the oreos please!

Don't get me wrong, I love a warm Summer day as much as the next person but my philosophy has always been that it is easier to keep warm in Winter than it is to keep cool in Summer. I am literally a walking hot water bottle 365 days of the year and if has to be below zero for me to start shivering, which means I swelter in Summer. Winter also gives me an excuse to stay inside and craft which is were my passion lies

Shopping splurge

Anywhoo, enough about the weather and more onto crafting, I went on a shopping excursion recently and blew a very big part of my budget on crafting supplies. I should have left most of my money at home (or at least some as I am almost broke for the next two weeks) when I visited the Scrapbook factory shop. I was there for an hour but could have stayed 3 more and would still not have seen everything. It has still not registered yet that I have blown such a large amount on my supplies because each item was a) so reasonably priced, b) on special or c) items I will get a lot of use out of like ink stamps and paper punches.

Online creative journalling class

I have however sort of balanced my financial splurge out by joining an free online class via Creative passions. It is a free class about creative journalling. I am so excited that I could pee... almost. You have to register with them and then enroll in a class and then there are 4 lessons  which you will receive via email. I have never done this type of thing before but am intrigued to say the least. I will keep you posted on my progress.

crochet cuteness

I came across an awesome free pdf. pattern for a My little Pony doll, which I am delighted to say  thrilled me to no end. It was pure nostalgia at its best for me. You can find the free download here. The pattern is really easy to follow and I cannot wait to make the whole set. I even woke up this morning with ponies on my mind and though about doing a really tiny pony with crochet cotton and a tiny hook.

Here is rainbow Dash. So easy to make and cute to look at.

Teeny Tinies

I was super chuffed this week when my dolls house bureau (see last post for tutorial) was featured on a website that I joined a while ago. Icklebits is an online community dedicated to the love of miniatures, it has over 900 free tutorials and almost 500 articles. The owner of the site is Donna and she is really sweet and helpful and I love the way the site is very interactive and even has a points system. I have not been working on an actual room in the house but have plans for a ice cream shop diorama and also. I have been expanding my dolls house office but the piece that I am most proud of was my little tray that I made. I have seen so many websites that show you how to make a simple tray out of a cabochon backing but have not been able to come across one in my travels. I was so down the other day that I got out my tools and made my own tray, which in my opinion is even better than the ones I have seen, if I don't say so myself. Here is the before and after.

These are actually really small and the handle was made using a one hole punch.
Today seems like one of those where I have plans to get everything done and lists for lists and yet I still cannot hit the "Go" button but I suppose there comes a time when you procrastinate no more and that time is now for me so I will love ya and leave ya and hopefully by my next post I will have tons to share with you, so for now.... Ciao.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dolls House bureau tutorial, matchbox style

Today I will breaking away from my normal style to show you how to make this adorable little dolls house bureau made from items which are really easy to come by. It is so simple to make and once you know how you can make all different styles of cupboards, you do not have to follow my layout exactly but the technique is important. Please first read through the tutorial before attempting it just so that you make sure what is expected. Measure twice, cut once.

I made this little bureau a few days ago and it came out exactly how I wanted but the second one did not go as well although I think that the charm lies in the imperfections. My teacher in junior school always said " if you want perfect, go to the shops and buy one" and this has always stuck with me, specially when I start noticing little mistakes in my work.

Enough Rambling and more working.

As a side note I would like to add that although I like working with different glues and cutters, you may use whatever you like. I prefer a box cutter for bigger pieces that need straight edges and a scissors for smaller work. I also prefer clear contact glue for quick drying pieces which is a bit expensive so I swap to regular white craft glue for paper and pieces that do not have to be perfect.

For this piece I have also broken it down into 3 parts which are the structure, finishing, and legs and handles.
 the structure:

1. The structure

Materials needed:

  • glue ( I used paper glue and clear gel glue)
  • box cutter
  • scissors
  • 4 matchboxes ( you may use more or less)
  • corrugated cardboard ( basically I cut up an old packing box
  • 2 pieces of 4.2x 6 pieces of decorative paper (or any size you like that will be sufficient to cover your piece.)
  • a metal ruler, cutting mat and a pencil for marking

 Step 1: glue your 4 boxes together. Set aside and allow to dry

Step 2: Trim your corrugated card on the edges with the box cutter so that you have a nice clean edge all the way around. Here is a view of the card with a clean edge.
Step 3: cut your card stock into four pieces. As matchbox sizes vary from each country it is best to measure them before cutting. The four pieces should be cut into two pieces making up the top and underside of the desk and the other pieces should be the sides of your desk.Just make sure your desk over laps the matchboxes by 1/4" on both dies of the top and bottom of the  desk. My pieces measured as follows:
The two big pieces were 3.5"x2" and the smaller ones were 2"x1.5"
Step 4: Take your two large pieces and lay them on 1 piece of the patterned paper and cut down the centre

Step 5: This part might be a bit tricky but please bear with me. Take one of the larger pieces of card and one piece of the patterned paper. Place the card in the center of the paper. Lift one corner slightly and make a crease where the paper and card meet. Once you have a crease then remove the card and fold across the crease. You could score it but I don't have a tool for that so I just fold it over and fold it the other way. Make sure your fold is neat and clear.
 Step 6. measure about a 1/8th of an inch and make another fold just above the fold you have completed. The second fold should be closer to the edge and not on the other side
The crease should fold neatly over the edge of the cardboard
Now place your piece of cardboard in the center of the same paper and repeat this step so that you have neat double folds all the way around the card board. Using a pencil, mark out the smaller boxes made by the folds. Measure the folds closet to the interior.

This is how it should look when folded.
Step 7. Cut away the parts that were marked in pencil, making sure to cut very neatly. This is how it should look
Step 8. Using some white  liquid paper glue ( like the ones we used in primary school) I glued the top of the cardboard into the center of the paper. Then one by one, lining up the surrounding tabs, I glued them all down.

Step 9. I did the same with the other piece of board which measured the same and then with the smaller pieces. I now have 4 covered pieces of cardboard.
Here are the four sides.
Step 10: Glue all pieces into place around the box making sure to spread glue evenly and gluing corners as well.
Remember that when you glue the top and bottom piece to have about 1/4 inch visible.

Here is where my measurement was off.

I notice that one side always comes out nicer on each piece so I chose which side of each board I want showing and marked that with an arrow drawn in pencil to remind myself. It is now time to assemble.

I noticed that when I measured my four sides that I had it a bit long on the sides so I took an extra piece of card and folded a strip of the paper over and glued on the bottom.I tried to turn a mistake into a design element and I like how it looked so it became a happy mistake.

My extra piece for the bottom

extra piece glued on.
Now you should have your structure complete. In the next part we will be decorating the drawers and sealing out little bureau.

This is how it should look when you are done

2. Sealing the structure and drawers.

This step is quite easy and can be done on the same day as finishing the structure.

Materials needed.

  • Modge podge
  • craft paint, preferably a neutral colour to contrast with the patterned paper. Gold or silver is also a good choice.
  • a paint brush
  • left over patterned paper
  • scissors
  • glue ( I just used regular craft for this step)

Step 1: Remove all the little drawers. With your neutral craft paint and a small paintbrush, lightly  paint the card from the matchboxes which is showing. No need to paint inside the boxes, just the outer edge. Leave aside to dry

Step 2. Paint the front of the drawers with the same paint. Once again, no need to paint the whole drawer unless you really want but is easier to pull the drawer out if it is not painted.
front of the box painted.

view from the side

Step 3. Take the piece of patterned paper that was left over from the structure and measure it to fit on the front on the drawer, make it slightly smaller than the drawer so that it fits on the front and still leaves space around.
measured the paper with a pencil on the back

Here they are cut out.
Step 4: Glue the strips of paper in the center of the drawer faces, making sure that the paint has dried before gluing anything down

Step 5: Paint one layer of modge podge over the entire structure and the front of the drawers. Basically this step is to protect our little desk, you may skip it if you like but since we where working with paper, I think this step is vital to ensure our work is protected. I also add a layer of clear varnish over the top of the desk to give it a nice shine.

This step is now complete and your bureau should look something like this.
A little wonky but cute none the less.

At this point you can choose to use big glass beads for legs and handles by using a hot glue gun to glue them on or you could follow my last step which involves a little patience and some paper-quilling techniques.

You could also line your little drawers with some cut out felt to make the inside more attractive.

PLease note:

3. Handles and legs.

This part can be a bit tricky since it involves very small pieces and making sure they are just right but the finish is well worth it in the end.

Materials needed

  • regular white craft glue
  • scissors
  • one hole punch, or two hole, whichever you have on hand
  • some paper ( if you have any patterned paper left over from the structure then you can use that)
  • hot glue gun ( or regular clear glue if you are making this with kids or do not have a glue gun)
  • paint, the same  colour you used from the drawers is best.
  • modge podge
  • 4 tooth picks
Step 1: cut your paper in strips that measure 2"x 0.5" , you will need 8.
step 2: take your toothpick and one strip of paper. Wrap the paper around the toothpick and add a bit of glue to the end of the strip. Roll between your fingers until you have thin tube of paper. If the top is uneven then when you slide it off the toothpick you can just push it all into shape with your finger. Roll between your fingers until the glue is set.

 Step 3: reapeat this with all the strips of paper until you have 8 little tubes
Step 4 : Set four tubes aside for the legs and take the other four for the drawer handles. Punch out 4 little hole punhes in some think cardstock for the handles. Then glue them to the top of the four tubes. I then placed them on the toothpicks and in the middle of some left over corrugated cardboard.

 Step 5: Paint the 4 handles with the paint. I had to do 2 coats but you can judge for yourself how many you think you need. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 7: Using a hot glue gun (or regular glue if you don't have a glue gun) glue down the handles onto your drawers. Glue the legs to the bottom of the desk.

Step 5. You can now paint the legs and another layer of modge podge, if you like. You are now done and ready to dispaly in your dolls house.

*Please note that I have left the back open on purpose. This function is so that you can push the drawers open from the back. The little handles are cute but might be fragile  after too much pulling on them. You may cover the back with a piece of cardstock but I prefer not to.

So after a full day of preparing this tutorial I am finally done. The bureau is really cheap, easy and looks great when completed. I really do hope you give it a go and I would love to see a picture if you ever get around to making one so please feel free to message me. On another note, if there is any step that confuses you of if you need a little more clarification please feel free to contact me or leave a message anytime.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stamps and Shears.

Buyers remorse and how to deal with it.

I have made two  purchases lately that have left me feeling kind of winded at the till and have  wondering why I do this to myself. I did what I always do when things weigh heavily on my mind and that is to discuss the issue with my voice of reason, in this case it was my best friend ,Valentine. We came to the conclusion that each person has their own ideal about  where and what they spend their money on.

For example, hubby dearest moans and whinges whenever it comes to buying food for the house and yet the last time I Spring cleaned the wardrobe I counted forty tee-shirts.Note, I said tee-shirts and not including polo's, long sleeve or football jerseys, just plain tee-shirts. I also have a friend who will eat out every night and yet when it comes to buying simple items like shampoo, she will really cause a stink. Funny as it is I think each person has a limit on some things but not others. What is my poison of choice? Simple, craft supplies! I can spend R100 on a set of acrylic stamps and have blown large amounts on scrap booking paper and yet when it comes to the wardrobe I could not be bothered. I have never been a 'label' person and couldn't care less if my shirts came from the bargain bin or discount shop.

Just for the record, I am not condemning anyone for where or how they choose to spend their money , I am merely pondering the difference between peoples preferences. Now to address my purchases that keep me up at night wondering how I could be so frivilous.

Case one is a set of acrylic stamps. I have been eying them for ages and have always picked them up in the craft store and put them back down. They have been in the craft store for ages due to the fact that most sane people cannot shell out that much for so little. For my foreign friends I will try to explain that R100 in South Africa could be dinner for four ( eating in that is), a new pair of shoes or even buying lunch at work for a week. On the plus side, the stamp set that I bought is interchangeable and when played around with, you get about 40 different combination's so in a way that is practical.... almost.

The stamps in question

The second case is the case of the pinking shears. I have been on the lookout for ages or these shears and yesterday I found a pair that I still feel guilty about buying. They are wonderful scissors  and are a sort of multi-tasker when you think that you can use them for paper work as well as for material or felt. I love them to bits, although I have not had the chance to use them yet...... they just look so darn cute in my sewing kit. For R135 I knew I was not going to find them again and they are really durable so I will get a lot of use out of them.

So, how do I overcome the looming buyers remorse? Well the only thing I can think of is to get as much out of these things as I can. I have organized two swaps via swap-bot where we stamp 10 images on cards and send them to our partners and since we each have two partners then I should receive 40 images in return for both swaps combined. For those of you who are not on the bot I suppose a crafty meet up with some friends could do and then you just stamp as many images with your friends stamps.
As for the scissors, well I will have to get back to you on that one as I have not even given them a test drive yet.

so while I go stamp my little heart out and work on my third Mimi Kirchener doll with the shears, i bid you farewell and till next time... Ciao!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pics and Progress.

It has been a long time since I last blogged and so much has happened, but the progress on crafting has not halted. I have been trying out some new craft sand rediscovering old ones.

I have been bitten by the Smash bug. Don't know what Smash is? Well it is basically journalling, but to a higher degree. Let me take you back to where I started journalling. I always thought journalling was like keeping a diary and writing down your thoughts and ideas, which did not appeal to me since I am more inspired by the visual. I always got diaries as a child and started out with good intentions and journalling every day, then maybe twice a week and then every other week until it got shoved into the back of my closet, to go where old toys go to rest. Well, when I started high school it was a requirement to have a diary to diarize my homework and school events. My friends and I  got into the habit of filling our diaries with every sort of a thing a young teenage girl collects. Sweet wrappers, notes passed during class, magazine articles, song lyrics, stickers and all other types of things were fodder for our diaries. Our diaries were our most prized possessions and by the end of the school year they were so stuffed that we could not even close them. I am actually guilty of still owning two of my high school diaries.

So imagine my surprise when the Smash company came out with journals that are filled with patterned pages, that inspire you to decorate, journal and add items to. They come in many varieties and have their own product line of journalling goodies. As wonderful as they are, sadly I do not own a credit card and there is no way of me ever owning one so , when push comes to shove, I do what I do best...improvise. Armed with enough inspiration to journal the whole of cape Town, I headed off to China Town, where everyone knows is the place to find the next best thing to anything. I found a journal there that was ideal, and for R15, you cannot go wrong.It is a plain, spiral bound journal with yellowish pages (never fear, I have a plan to cover those) and four different colored card pockets to divide it. The cover is plain cardboard with a clear plastic cover which is great because I can decorate the cover how I like and still have it protected by the transparent plastic. I set to work, covering the yellowy pages with note paper and digging out all the things to add to my journal. It is growing by the day and looking great.

This is a cheap enough hobby as it basically consists of gluing items in which you want to preserve and a little imagination to make it look appealing. Think birthday cards, ticket stubs, photos, recipes and so much more. You can see photos of my faux Smash journal via my flickr photo's here.

Another craft I have been working on are my "Mimi Kirchner" dolls and you can find the pattern and tutorials by clicking here. They are so easy to make and I love these little dolls.

Citronella, named after the colors I chose for her.
She was my first doll that I made. I love the face and little pearls

Citronella and Rose, my second doll.   
Photo's are a bit dark due to my camera phone.These dolls are super easy to make and I can usually complete one in a day alone. They are super soft and if you have felt, thread and stuffing then you don't really need to buy anything else. They are great for kiddies but are also a bit delicate so I recommend them for little girls but  not toddlers.

I have also been working on my dolls house and was quite inspired by a shop on etsy. I have added quite a bit to the house and an additional room which is now a sewing room.

 Here is the little dolls house. The sewing room is on the left and I keep adding things to it and has grown quite a bit since this photo.

Here is a little sofa and armchair I made using a super easy tutorial. All you need is cardboard, ( or an old box, the kind with the corrugation in the middle)  glue and scraps of material, I used perler beads under the chairs for some lift. Material with a small print or plain usually works better. Try it for yourself by clicking here. I have worked on loads of other little projects including, mini baskets, dolls clothing and accessories that can also view via my flickr photo's. The next project that I have in mind  is a miniature bread bin.

I would love to stay and chat but crafting calls and like any avid crafter, I have to answer, so till next time... Chow!