Posts from the “craft” Category

Homemade Christmas Cards

Posted on 18 November, 2015

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This year I’m all about Christmas. A few days after Halloween I thought Ewan should write to Santa. Steve luckily is more contained about the whole thing but as soon as the 1st of December comes it’s open season!!

Not at all put off by the calendar I decided to get cracking on with some Christmas crafts. For some reason I decided to tackle making 36 Christmas cards. Often when I see lovely DIY things on Pinterest, I think, “yeah it’s lovely but would you really be bothered!”

In truth if you’re looking at these and thinking, “Could I really be bothered?”

I’d say “It’s probably best to stay clear unless:

a) You have a crafting itch that really really needs a scratch

b) You have time on your hands

and c ) You really really like the people you’ll be sending them to.

If you tick all three boxes then please read on my friend!

I started with my beloved Christmas biscuit tins for inspiration/ stealing their design.

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I love the trees in the boxes on the left but after a few failed attempts at making a tree lino cut I gave up. I have one dodgy scraping tool and trying to get the detail needed on the branches proved too much for my little wonky tool. In lieu of not spending more money on another new tool I went for the bolder pattern of the stag/ reindeer instead.

I traced it from the tin first and then traced it on to the lino using pen which was easier to see on the lino than the pencil.

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I then started to cut away some of the lino with a scissors and used my wobbly scrapper tool to dig out the rest.

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I wasn’t sure how much or little I wanted to cut away from the body of the deer to create shadowing so I did a few test prints. I carefully cut out some more. When I wasn’t sure I drew on the parts I was considering cutting away to see what they might look like and then decided for or against cutting that part away. I ended up cutting very little away which I was glad about because once it’s gone there’s no sticking it back! This is how the lino looked before printing.

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Next I rolled my lino paint until it made a satisfying tacky noise. My roller also caused me problems by not rolling. So I invested in a new one. It turns out any lino printing tools with a red handle end up breaking.  Either they are poor quality or I’m a particularly vicious lino printer!

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I then pressed  the inked lino onto blank cards that I picked up at my  local craft shop and there you have it.

I wiped the lino clean with baby wipes and cotton buds, for the little knooks and crannies, between each print. As I went on I didn’t do this every time and found I could get two, or at a push three, prints before I needed to clean the lino. I just rolled the lino paint over the lino ,dabbed away any excess and printed again.

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After 16 reindeers I decided another patter might be nice so I tried again with the trees before bowing out and going for a dala horse instead. I used the horse I have to trace the shape. I cut away the pattern on the horse free hand and it looked pretty odd to start with. I kept edging away until it looked somewhat okay. Then I reminded my self never ever to try cutting away lino freehand again! Tracing is my friend.

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Many hours later my Christmas cards are complete.

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Now I just have to think of one million other ways to use the lino cut outs for other projects. Maybe a Happy Birthday Dalla horse or a Congratulations on your New Home reindeer card. This might need more thought!

For the moment I’m off for some mulled punch and butter biscuits. If you’re keen you can see my other experiments with printing here , here and here :) And if you happen to have time on your hands you can check out all my crafting attempts here.

 

 

 

 

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BOO!

Posted on 31 October, 2015

When Ewan was six months I started making him a costume. Those of you who’ve been loyally sticking by the blog over the years might remember that my plan was that after going to the effort of making it he would wear it for at least seven years. When I said that I hadn’t accounted for the strong will of a toddler. This year I talked him out of being a pirate by suggesting I would dress up as a pirate and he could be a scary orange monster. It worked but that thin logic is unlikely to hold up next year!

So in honour of the costume’s hay day here are some of it’s best moments!!

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Stamp It!

Posted on 31 July, 2015

The world of Lino printing is one that I’ve skirted around the edges of with great trepidation. This project only slightly addresses my fears  in that I’ve bought the lino, cut out a shape and used the lino as a stamp but I didn’t even consider etching out any detail. When I even think about making a lino print I get a mental block about what parts stay coloured and what stays the same. Thinking  about  “if I etch away this section what colour will it be?” makes my brain hurt and so for the moment I’m keeping it very, very simple and I cut out the shape I needed covered in in fabric ink, stamped it, no fancy stuff at all!

Lino Priniting DIY ,Stamp Lino Printing tablecloth

The project was to jazz up a blue tablecloth that I’ve had for years that never gets any use. The method was very easy.

I  drew a pear on the lino, Cut out the shape using a cheap lino cutter (a scissors would have done fine). Next cut the leaf and stalk from main body of the pear because I wanted to do them different colours. I stuck the lino to cardboard so my inky fingers didn’t touch off the cloth as I used the stamp. Next I rolled the fabric ink. I bought a starter kit with a few different colours because I have big fabric ink dreams for the future but you can buy them separately too. Then I rolled the ink on a sheet of glass, up down over and back for a minute or too until the texture got tacky. Then I rolled the printing roller  over the  pear stamp and pressed the stamp down on the fabric. After finishing the body of the pear I washed everything with warm water, rolled the green ink and gave each pear a green leaf and stalk.

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Here are a few things I learnt:

-Less is more when it comes to fabric ink. Start with a little ink and roll it well. The amount of yellow ink that’s blobbing around in the pictures above is way too much. I reigned it back for the green ink and that worked much better.

– Print on a completely flat surface not a ridged table like I did!

-Printing outside feels lovely and bohemian but flies get stuck on your pear stamps and you make a mess trying to rescue them from an inky death.

– The project takes longer than one toddler nap time. As a guide it took an hour and a half from  drawing the shape to getting one lenght and width of the fabric stamped. Stamping itself is very quick but allow a bit of time to get to that stage.

– Start with a practice cloth. It’s simple to do but you do need a bit of practice to figure out how much ink works best for the look your after.

-If your doing a repeat pattern draw a straight line with chalk or masking tape where you want the stamp to go. I did it by eye and the pattern goes up at the ends and then swoops down when I realise, another oops!

– Iron your fabric. Ironing is against my principles ( really I just hate it) so I didn’t but I will concede it would look better if I had.

Last but not least enjoy. Rolling goey stuff and stamping has an air of pre-school about it, so enjoy and get messy (but not too messy, it is fabric ink after all so don’t go around touching your clothes:)

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So there you have it, ink and lino make a very nice pear indeed! (sorry I couldn’t resist)

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Splish splash

Posted on 17 April, 2015

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Recently a good friend had her second child. Her first child was born two weeks before Ewan. At the time I was too huge to  visit her and spent most of our conversations grilling her for info about the birth! So now that her second has arrived I wanted to make something very special for them. Something that I hope will last and something gloriously cheery. The result is this cheeky puddle jumper …

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I always find deciding to make something and following through are two entirely different things. So when I started to plan a trip to see them and Vibes and Scribes offered to sponsor a craft post, it was a perfect crafting storm, a deadline was born!

 

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 Image via Thrifty Amos Instagram

I love the Vibes and Scribes craft shop and have gone on a bit about them on the blog before. Well,with three floors of crafty goodies, armchairs for knitters and all within walking distance of my house what’s not to go on about! But what I love a little bit more than the shop itself is how nice the staff are. I’m a craft novice but I get notions and like to give things a go. In some fabric or craft shops I feel uncomfortable because I’m not a seamstress nor do I have a degree in art  and I feel like I need a certain level of knowledge even to go in. On the other hand the atmosphere of Vibes and Scribes suits me down to the ground you can go in and describe a vague idea of what you’d like to do and someone there will be able to give you a guiding hand and a few tips and tricks.

Once they got in touch with me about sponsoring a craft post I got planing.

I’m still deciding if I like Pinterest but on this occasion it pulled through for me. I used it to message Colette, the Crafting Guru, some suggestions and vice versa. She is forever patient and helped me out with figuring out how to make images online and vague ideas into real life things.

We gathered around the goodie bag that Vibes and Scribes had given us and got to work. To meet without our kids is essential and so we meet under the cover of darkness away from our wee and tall men! (the photo looks like I have her trapped in a crafting cave but I let her out I swear!)

 

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When your crafting gurus first guidance is “I don’t know how you could make it but sure give it a go” I did began to panic a teeny tiny bit.

It turns out she is totally right. Telling someone how to needle felt is like telling someone how to play with Playdoh, sometimes you just have to play around with it to see what works.

In saying that if she hadn’t guided me I’d still be stabbing a needle with little results so here are a few tips I couldn’t have done without.

1)  Needle felting a free form shape

The raindrops, puddle and clouds were free form with no great plan or template. The advice is you start with less felting wool than you think you’ll need. You can always add more but it’s near impossible to take it off. Put your fluffy felting wool on the dense sponge and get stabbing with your felting needle (I used these ones mainly). When you’ve done one side turn it over.  Shape it a little by gathering it as you go. Then stab the felt at will! As I mentioned in the other felting post, stabbing really is more fun than you’d imagine! When it’s starting to come together you can ditch the dense foam and start stabbing into the shap. This really helps give it shape and a more 3-D shape.

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2)Structured shape with a bit of bulk

Making the umberalla was a task that I had no idea where to start with! But yet again Colette the Crafting guru came to the rescue. First, you make your pipe cleaner umbrella. Next you stuff it with foam. I used a cut up kitchen sponge. We were too busy nattering for me to remember to photograph each step but you can see below this how it is made. The idea of the foam is that it gives your felt something to hold on to.

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3) Making a figure

Making the little boy was the bit I dreaded most. I tried just randomly attaching pipe cleaners to themselves but that didn’t work. So after watching this 3 minute  you tube video all became clear and a Pipe cleaner boy was created…

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Once he was made it was just a matter of stabbing the felt into him. It doesn’t sound very pleasant but it’s great fun! 

WARNING

IF YOU FIND THIS PIPE CLEANER BOY ENDEARING YOU MAY FIND SOME OF THE FOLLOWING IMAGES DISTURBING! 

Viewer Discretion is Advised!

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The striped hat with a bobble and chin ties was a bit excessive but it’s the kind of thing that once you get started you start thinking, well obviously he needs tiny buttons, are cuffs too much? Because you are working with fine needles the world is your oyster in terms of tiny details but for me I have always had a problem of never knowing when enough is enough so I forced myself to quit and face the tricky job of attaching the shapes to the wire frame.

I used half of my Christmas Wreath frame (I’ll worry about that in December!). Hanging this was a NIGHTMARE. There are literally too many moving parts. I won’t go on about how difficult it was because it’s a present but if you are doing to make one I would advice paying someone who is good with knots to hang it for you. I used fishing wire to attach each piece and guided the wire through with a felting needle, the rest was patience!

Once hung it looked like this ..

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But not being able to leave well enough alone I stuffed the wire frame with foam and set to making a felt rainbow.

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And voila, here it is.

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Felting itself doesn’t take long at all and you can start to see results very quickly. I took to needle felting much more than the rolled felting I did a while ago. As an example each rain drop took 5 minute (yes, I timed it!) and the rainbow took about 15 minutes or three Peppa Pig episodes depending on the time scale you use.

The end result is something I love and I really hope it’s recipient will too.

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Shandon Bells in print

Posted on 28 March, 2015

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The Shandon Bells have played a big part in my Cork life. Steve and I used to live right under it’s loud chimes. We would lay in bed on lazy mornings (something that seems alien since having a child!) and rate the tourists’ performances. For five euro you can climb the tower and ring the Shandon bells to whatever tune you can manage. Renditions of Three Blind Mice and Amazing Grace would ring out over the city while we listened on. Now we live a little further from the bells but its tower, its fish shaped weather vane and one if its four clocks greet me every morning and evening as I open and close the shutters in time with the day.

Cork has a lot fancier and grander churches but for me the Shandon bells at St Anne’s church is my absolute favourite. Partly because of it’s little quirks. For years the clock was called the four faced liar because it’s four clocks on each side of the tower  had a different time. It has recently been fixed but I still can’t bring myself to trust it so I end up double checking it with my watch. Being able to see it from our window made me geek out a little when we first moved in. For a few months after moving in  I would make visitors look at the milk cartoon and then look out our window.” LOOK,LOOK, YOU CAN SEE IT OUT THE WINDOW AND IT’S ON THE MILK CARTOON”. After a few polite nods  I realised that not everyone found this to be AMAZING!

To cement my love of Shandon Bells I decided to make a print of it. I used the same foam print technique as the other post but I got a lot more detailed.

To add the personal touch, and so I don’t infringe on copyright, I based it on a photo I had taken on my birthday bus tour .

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First, I edited the photo in Picassa to turn it into a pencil sketch. This isn’t entirely necessary but for me it really helped because it have me a nice clean outline to follow.

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I printed this to A4 size and used baking paper to trace it. When tracing it I drew the outline and then just choose parts of the tower I wanted to highlight: the arches, an odd cluster of bricks and of course the clock.

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I used the scalpel and th traced image on the baking paper to cut out the outline of the tower into the foam . Then drew on some details with a pen. I started to do this free hand then quickly realised I need the guidance of the baking paper trace. That’s why a few of the lines are more than a little off!  I also cut out some of the parts of the arches to allow the colour of the paper to come through.

 

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I tried using the orange ink that I had from the other projects but it was a bit too harsh for what I wanted so I baby wiped the foam stamp (I  have no idea how I lived without baby wipes being at hand all the time!) and I invested five euro on a new white printing ink.

Just as I did in the last foam post I rolled the ink up and down then over and back until it looked like corduroy. To make sure the detail of the stamp came out I placed the inked foam stamp on top of the paper and then I turned them over. I ran my knuckle  over the back of the paper to press down on the foam stamp underneath.

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This also meant that when I was finished I was peeling the paper away from the foam stamp rather than trying to lift the foam stamp gingerly from the paper. I should have had the paper on top the last time too. This way is much,much easier!

One thing that I forgot is that a stamp prints the other way around so my chosen clock numbers were on the wrong side. As I happens the turned out like blobs rather than numbers so no harm done. Lesson learnt for the future though!

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There you have it. A local landmark made into a print.

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What about you? Do you have any landmarks, shops or spots that you would love to make a print of? If you do it please please try this out and let me know how you get on. I’d be delighted to hear how you get on!

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Craft foam fun

Posted on 5 March, 2015

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Today I decided to use Ewan’s nap time to get crafty. Life has been a little hectic around here recently and few things help me feel more like myself than crafting and taking photos so that’s exactly what I did.  This is probably one of the more exciting DIY projects I have done in a while because it’s cheap, easy and the possibilities are endless.

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The supplies for this are very inexpensive coming to a total of less than €10! I bought a scalpol, roller, block printing ink, safeprint foam and coloured card. I used a piece of glass I had from a second hand frame but you could use a glossy magazine or a shiny surface.

I came across this video my local craft shop, Vibes and Scribes, had done a few years ago about printing using foam sheets and it looked like it would be worth a go (and importantly simple enough to get done in a nap time!). As another little side note the person who served me when I went to get the bits and pieces was the same guy from the video!

The only printing I had done in the past was lino printing at school. I wasn’t keen on the process and I took a few chunks out of my finger trying to dig into the lino. Their video tells you all about printing with foam in full but I’ll try and give you a flavour of it and let you know where I went wrong!

I decided to make a stamp of an opened orange so I cut around the shape of the glass with the scalpol. Instead of dragging the knife around it I made a series of little dots and this helped make the circle much more accurately.

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Once I had my lovely circle I drew the orange segments on the foam with a pen. This made indents in the foam. The indents mean that  those parts won’t get ink on them and so when you lift the stamp the indented parts stay the same colour as the page. (I forgot to photograph this but you’ll see what I mean in a minute. For the moment the power of words will have to do:)

Next up rolled the ink. The instruction was you roll it until it looks like corduroy pants.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for but after a less than a minute rolling this happened which I presume is the desired effect because it worked a treat. You roll up and down over and back and hey presto corduroy pants style ink…

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Next you roll the ink onto the foam so that it’s nice and even. This is where I made a few mistakes. I was a bit heavy handed with the ink and so some turned out a bit blobby. Plus I didn’t wipe the foam before using it again so with ink on top of ink the blobbiness continued! . I also was a bit afraid of putting it down and peeling it up again.  You can see squashed bits below from when I pulled it off at an angle. My tip would be to do it confidently. Place the foam down firmly then turn the paper over and rub the paper with your finger to make sure the ink sticks. When your taking the stamp off just go for it, don’t over think it or go to edge it off like I did!

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Once I got the hang of it it really is easy and fast!

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I got a bit over adventurous and  printed on to some spare tiles. In case your wondering I didn’t use tile paint and used the same ink and it probably won’t stick but I’ll let you know tomorrow if it dried or not! (UPDATE: Using block ink on tiles doesn’t work at all. You need tile paint. Ah well, it looked good for 24 hours:)

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In true Blue Peter style here is one I made earlier.  I made the flamingo before the orange but I didn’t photograph the steps. I used the same process as the orange except to make the foam shape I traced a printed image using baking paper.  Tracing with baking paper  made me feel 10 again but my drawing isn’t that good to attempt drawing a flamingo free hand and expecting people to recognise it! Again I used pen to make the indents to allow the colour of the paper to come through in parts.

 

The foam is reusable too if you clean them very gently with a wet cloth. As you can see the foam flamingo has suffered an injury during cleaning and is held together with tape! But he ‘s still good and is ready to hobble into action again if needed!

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What do you think? Any more ideas of things that need to be made into prints?

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Cardi Cards

Posted on 22 February, 2015

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If you have a shrunken cardi teasing you with it obsolescence  then this is the DIY  project for you! For months I considered what I could do with a cardi that the drier had claimed as yet another conquest. I thought of making Christmas decorations out of it but that never came about and now it’s February! Then I saw this felt elbow patch tutorial and it got me thinking. I wasn’t willing to donate any of my fully functional cardis to be elbow patched  but I was curious to try needle felting so my squashed shrunken cardigan was just the thing. I used the same process as the tutorial to make it but  I used a cut strip of the shrunken fabric and I glued the end result to folded card .

This is unbelievably simple (and cheap!)  plus I got to use my glue gun again (any excuse really!)

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It’s as simple as putting a cookie cutter on to your chosen fabric and placing them both on top of a foam pad for felting.

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Then you stuff the cookie cutter with felt…

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..and repeatedly stabbing it with a felting needle. (As a little side note the tutorial said 36 gauge felting needle and my local craft shop didn’t have the same kind of needles but after helpful staff Googled it for me we discovered it was the same as a medium felting needle)

Stabbing felt wool with a felting needle is by far the most fun I have had with a needle. You just stab into the felt wool and it goes through the  fabric and into the sponge. It’s a series of  straight up and down jabbing motions that makes you feel maniacal, but in a good way. It really is worth trying!

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Once you’ve stabbed your heart out (or house in this case) then you peel off your fabric from the sponge.

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A quick run of the iron with steam and squirts of water then it’s ready to be glue to the card.

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And there you have it. The whole thing only takes about ten minutes and it really is fun, so get stabbing!!

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So far I’ve made this house for a friends house party and  this heart for valentines.

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With limited cookie cutters in my life I’ll be keeping and eye out for cheerful cutters so I can expand my cardi card repertoire!

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