Sunday, March 20, 2011

Airmail and atc's

Sometime last year, around Octoberish, I was watching a program on t.v about crafting and on one segment they spoke about artist trading cards. Needless to say they got my attention. Artist trading cards are a miniature artwork done on a small card and traded/swapped with other artists for theirs. There are only 2 rules about atc’s, they must be a certain size and can not be sold. The size rule is perfect for storing because they fit into regular trading card pockets.
 I turned to my computer to see how to go about trading these cards and my search led me to swap-bot. This awesome site has been the object of my obsession for some while now. How it works is you sign up and fill in your profile, likes, dislikes and such. You then sign up for a swap which you fancy. (there is a list of swaps and you can search for themed ones.) Then you wait till the sign up date ends. In this time you can start on your craft to be swapped.  You are then alerted via email that your partner has been assigned and you send off your swap. The partners are assigned randomly so you do not receive from the person you send to. You receive your swap from your partner and rate them using a pre-determined rating system which helps control some people from not sending their swaps. You, as the sender, get rated too and as your ratings improve, so does your reputation and this make swapping much easier.
What type of things do we swap for? Well, there are swaps tailored for all types of people from postcards to atc’s, pen pal letters to crocheted dolls. There is literally something for everybody, crafty or not. Sure the postage adds up but you do get something in return. Another question that might plague you is, what if the other person does not send their swap? This does happen (though not to me…yet, touch wood) but there are ‘angels’ on hand to send you something if your partner has ‘flaked’ on you. The flaker gets named and shamed and gets rated a 1. Three ones get you temporarily banned from the site till they send out the swaps. The swapping community is very well adapted to rooting out flakers and making sure everyone plays fair. Good communication between swap partners is highly recommended and helps a lot specially when real life gets in the way

My favorite atc's that I have collected.

There is so much more to the site like joining groups , hosting swaps and private one on one swaps  but I cannot go into detail about that so  let me just say that I have made tons of international friends, got some really nice things that I would never of had the opportunity of getting by myself, my atc collection has grown in a matter of a few months and I have been inspired to think out side the box and my crafting ability has been challenged to the extreme which pushes me to do better.
I hope some of you will be inspired enough to have a look at the swap-bot website and maybe create some mini masterpieces of your own so until next time…Chow!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dollar store diving and diamonds.

Welcome to my second installment of ‘this and that”, lets see what I got up to.
So it was my birthday on Sunday and my brothers on Monday, exactly 10 years and a few hours apart. For my baby brothers (he is 19 but will remain my baby brother till the day I kick the bucket) birthday I decided to crochet him something special. Prior to his birthday I had mentioned that I had crocheted a poke ball and this really intrigued him so it set my mind working. I scanned the internet looking for a pattern of his favorite pokemon, Pikachu. I finally found a decent one on a very awesome site, (link available at the bottom of the page).
It did not take me long before I came up with a very cute replica of wolfdreamers Pikachu which I tweaked a bit, actually it only took an hour or two. I was very pleased with myself and I know I have done a good job when I have made something that I am reluctant to give away. I put together a birthday box and place the pokemon and ball on the bottom and covered it with a pair of jeans and a snazzy shirt that I had got him for his birthday. Needless to say he freaked when he saw it and my brownie point rating went through the roof, Scott Pilgrim style! The look on his face was worth the heart wrenching act of giving it away. Needless to say I made my teenage brother very happy which is a feat in itself.
To further on the topic of my ‘lil bro’s birthday, my mother treated D.J and myself to a day at the waterfront, a popular shopping centre located at…the water front. It was a great day and we had tons of fun. I never laugh as hard as when I am with my family. D.J and I have this intuition where we can see the joke in almost anything and we usually burst out laughing at something others might find quite normal and we don’t even have to say anything to each other except a nod of our heads in recognition on a blatantly obvious (well to us anyway) joke. So, moving on, the day ended with the scratch patch. This is a cave sort of thing at the end of the waterfront and it has cave golf and a room filled with polished gemstones. Now, if I did not mention that I love sparkly and colourful thing, then now is the time to say that I do. I was in total paradise  rolling around in the stones. For R50 we bought a cup and filled it with stones that we sat picking out for ages. I remember that I had been there as a child as part of an outing when my mother worked at the school day care and during the school holidays the kids used to stay at school and the day mothers would look after us. Anyhow, for one outing we went to the scratch patch and I must say that the feeling I had when I was kid seeing the scratch patch for the first time had not changed in anyway .The gems where still as sparkly and the feeling still as euphoric. I still remember as a kid, all of us tots searching for one elusive diamond amongst the gems and hoping to strike it rich.

D.J and mom

Moving along to the dollar store bit of my babbling. Now to put things in context, in South Africa we have two kinds of dollar stores. The first is the “crazy store” which used to be the five rand store but nowadays you cannot even buy a soft drink with a five rand. This store usually has a few nice finds but the quality is a bit poor and I suppose the charm wears off the crazy store after a while since they hardly ever change their stock and all the crazy stores stock the same stuff. To get off subject for a bit, my local haberdashery (I love that word) has a great array of needlepoint canvases which I have been dying to try but as most craft lovers know, crafting gets to be a very expensive hobby so you can really just choose 1 or 2 to focus on. I have been eyeing the designs  and the sales ladies have been telling for ages just how much fun it is and how addictive it is too. So getting back to the point, I found a small cross stitch pattern for only R14 and decided to use it for practice and if I liked it then I would buy a larger one. I took the kit to the haberdashery and the sales ladies almost flipped, they could not belive that I had paid only R14 for the kit and told me that if was a great bargain, needless to say I shall go back and buy many more kits. So I gave it a go and lo and behold… I am hooked. It is such fun and I recommend it to any avid crafter to give it a go.
 The second type of ‘dollar store’ is the Chinese shops. I  am sure that I do not have to go into much detail as most places have these store. I found a ‘gem’ in one such store. It is a balsa wood kit for making teeny tiny furniture. It is so cute that I could not resist. I bought the dining room suite for R10 and can’t wait to get started. I want to paint and varnish it too and am hoping to turn it into a miniature diorama of a fairy house, lets see how far I get shall we because I have not even opened the packaging yet. Stay tuned to see how that turns out.
Okay so I have pretty much said all that needs to be said about my dollar store diving and diamonds adventures. Join me again to see what I get up to on my next crafting excursion. So till next time… Chow !

Friday, March 11, 2011

So here I am.

I have arrived at what I hope will be a blogging success because I have tried this before but have never achieved what I was hoping to, being a newbie to the world of blogging has rendered my goal quite unreasonable. I had a blog prior to this but was frustrated that I could not see my followers. What is the point of sharing your views with a crowd of invisible people? I had comments I suppose, but my following consisted of incomprehensible mutterings of a few people who had not yet mastered the english language which leaves me wondering why they were reading my blog in the first place. My guess was that either the admin of the site were randomly posting comments on peoples sites to make them believe that their efforts were worthwhile or I really did have an avid following of non-english speaking folk who legitimately shared my views , the latter being wishful thinking.

So here I am, ready to share my thoughts and hoping for a second chance filled with possibilities, so let me start...
My mane is Nasreen and I am here to vocalize my love of crafting and all things related. Ever since I was a little girl, crafting has been in my blood. While some would call me artistic ( mostly mom and dad with a few kind friends in between) I am far from being an artist. The differance between being crafty and artistic in my opinion is that one lives for the art and strives to perfect their skill were as I rather take it in my stride. I dabble in this and that and very few times get the result I want but am happy with the outcome. I craft with beading, scrapbooking, atc's and my all time favorite, amigurumi ( I will explain the last one in more detail in my next post). My speciality being amigurumi and have found that I have mastered an understanding of the yarn and what it is supposed to do for me.

So now that you know my love of craft I will go on to some of the other things I hold very dear. I love my family and spending time with them trumps any other activity. You will always find me with a good (and sometimes not so good) book nearby. I partake in swapping internationally and can often be found wondering around shopping centres were I can browse for housrs. I love shops that are out of the way and stock unusual items and am intimidated by big shiny shops selling one of each item with no price tags and snooty sales people who are doing you a favour by taking time out of their very precious self-ego-loving day to look at you and consider actually speaking to you. Give me a babbling friendly sales lady who could'nt care less if you bought or not, but is just happy you entered the store anyday and I am your customer for life

So that pretty much sums up my introduction and all I have to say in my first intallmaent of 'this and that'. I look forwartd to many random ramblings and reviews and maybe getting to vent a little now and then.  So till next time...Chow!