Sunday, April 03, 2016

A Life In Flowers - A Pressed Memory Book

Flowers are a wonderful thing, and I don’t think I could properly capture their beauty in words. They’ve always somewhat seemed like real life magical creatures to me, and that is cool because, I’ll probably never see a unicorn, but I can always find a hot pink rose to add a little flash to my day. I’ve known many people who are blessed with the power to grow these wondrous beings, or piece them together into stunning arrangements that can steal your breath and leave you in tears. I am not a member of this talented pool of folks. But I do still have a strong passion for all things floral. I suppose I am more of a flower hunter and gatherer.

I enjoy the wildflowers I find on nature hikes or come across while strolling through the park. Floral motifs also play a large part in my illustration, they may be my ultimate muse, next to mythical creatures.

The project I’m sharing today is my pressed flower book. I began it the summer after my daughter was born. I wanted to create a tangible way for me to capture some of the fleeting memories of my time with my child. So my “Life In Flowers” was started. I found an old hand bound book I’d made years ago, that was full of beautiful scraps, and I deemed it’s pages the perfect place for me to mark up with petals. Once I had the book chosen, essentially I’ve just been making sure to snag a floral memento whenever I can. I bring it home, press it away between the book pages, and make a note of something special that happened that day. It’s simple and yet so effective. There is something so powerful about flipping through the book and seeing the dried and delicate beauty spread across the pages, with stories fluttering softly, in and out of the spine.
I’ve kept the book for over two years, and now with spring here, it will be time to start pressing our moments away again.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Marguciai - Lithuanian Easter Eggs

Easter, means easter eggs in our house. I was taught by my dad as a kid how to blow out eggs, dye them in an onion skin bath and then etch designs into their shells using a knife.

This year instead of onion skins I decided to try a different natural dye… red cabbage! I shredded up the cabbage, brought it to a boil in a pot of 4 cups of water and then simmered it for twenty minutes. When that was done, I strained out the left over cabbage, let it cool and then added a tablespoon of vinegar and a pinch of baking soda.

I plopped my blown out eggs into my jars of dye and let them sit over night. In the morning I removed some beautifully naturally colored eggs!

Oh I forgot to mention I added a little turmeric to one of the dye baths and the results came out green!

After they dried, I penciled on my designs and then scratched them out using an exacto knife. And the final touch is to shine them up with some oil. I just use vegetable oil. It really brings out the designs.

It’s a long process that requires patience, but it’s very meditative and the results are thrilling. One of my favorite craft times of the year!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

A Little Macaroni Charm

I’ve been making a lot of macaroni jewelry these days. My kid loves necklaces and pasta seems to be a great way to adorn her in something that is not an expensive heirloom and or a cheap-o special from the dollar store that will inevitably get destroyed at daycare… and bonus… we can also make dinner with the left overs materials.

But the plain old pasta necklaces, though classic, do get a little tired after awhile. So this week I thought I would surprise her with some painted pasta “beads” and jazz up our jewelry game a wee bit.

And of course, it wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t add a little crafty character to the final piece.

I’m calling this craft the "Macaroni Charm"

1. Tubular pasta - Rigatoni
2. Acrylic paint
3. String
4. Paint brush

I love how with just a simple coat of paint you can turn an everyday object, like pasta into a whole new piece de resistance! This is a super simple craft.

Essentially it is about choosing a color palette, creating a pattern and painting pasta! I wanted to make a minimal necklace with only a few pieces. I chose the color green thanks to a weekly Makeful challenge that had its sights set on this shade, and then I decided on a face design, which I practiced prior to starting on some stray pasta shells.

Once I had my design and colors set, it was very straightforward:
-paint macaroni
-let dry
-paint face on macaroni
-let dry
-string macaroni onto string

Here I chose to create a braided necklace out of simple cotton strands. I used six strands of cotton to give it a bit more of a robust structure and visual presence.

The result was an adorable new piece of loveliness for my daughter to sport! Oh and you can also fashion a pretty cute bracelet.

A final note, there is a lot of room for creativity here. You could paint patterns, use a ton of different colors and if you choose to create faces, they can be happy, sad, silly, serious… well whatever you want! Sky is the limit!

Have fun!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Tote-ally Makeful Tote Challenge.

For the past few months I’ve been having a great time contributing to the Makeful community, by participating in their weekly craft challenges when I can. This week they proposed a “Tote” challenge, and wanted to see how one would transform a plain tote.

I thought I would use this challenge as incentive for me to finally dive in and do something I’ve been meaning to try for a MILLION years… my own textile design!
Now I missed the deadline to have one of the branded Makeful totes sent to me, so i needed to make my own. I went in a bit of a different direction here and planed to craft a simple “bento” tote. There are tons of Bento patterns flying around online, but I’ve found this one to be one of my favourites!

They are so simple to make, but the main rule of thumb is the formula for your base rectangle to construct the bag from: Height x 3 = Width. So for my bentos, the sizes were 17” x 51” and 15” x 45”, plus seam allowance on both.

I also do a final step on my bento bags and square of the corners so they have a base. I just measure 3” up from either side of the one bottom corner (repeat on the other side after), and then sew a straight line across from those marked points (it will create a triangle) and then I press them out.

But really this challenge was more about creating a textile! Since this was my first time trying my own design, I treated it like a rough sketch. I chose to work in muslin, which is kind of like the sketch paper of the textile world.

I also decided to keep the print simple… so what better time than now to use a potato stamp! A go to fave of mine!

I came up with two really simple designs, a triangle based pineapple, and circular apple, each with a green stem embellishment. I traced and cut the shapes out of my potatoes and decided to use a simple fabric paint for my print.

I used a simple fabric paint to make the print. I wanted my pattern to feel loose and free, with not too much strict repetition. So I laid out my pre-cut fabric for my bags, which I cut to the sizes marked above, with a little extra on all sides for room to breath, and so I could really bleed the pattern out to the outer edges. And then I just went for it! Again, potato stamps are just the best when you want to make something feel organic and easy going.

The variety that is created in the lightness and darkness of the print from stamp to stamp is so cool. And I love that feeling of never really knowing for sure what will turn out. You are completely living on the edge, as Aerosmith would say.

So I covered my fabric with my circles and triangles, added the green steams and leaves, let it dry and then stood back and took a look a the results. I know it’s a fairly straightforward pattern, but I’m really happy with it! It’s playful and sweet, which is exactly what I was hoping to achieve. After the textile was created I then cut and sewed my totes!
I made two, and they both which came well. I chose to leave the Bento tote handles free and not sew them together, so I could tie them up or leave them loose... it’s nice to have the option.
 So there it is, a simple and fun “tote-ally” Makeful tote.

And last note, I can’t wait to try more patterns! Next up, I will definitely be researching natural dyes and working up to more complex patterns!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Washi World

How to Make a World out of Washi!

So what to do with Washi is the question? I mean what can’t you do with Washi? It’s plastered around my studio, holding up photographs, drawings and jammed in-between the pages of my sketch books, either holding dried flowers in place, or simply becoming part of my illustrations.

I’ve also used this versatile tape to create tiny paper flags with toothpicks to decorate drinks, and made mini bunting to dress up an everyday adventure that might be hiding in a corner of my home at any given moment.

But today I wanted to go a little further and make a tiny world using Washi tape as my inspiration… it was time to break out a diorama! I also gave myself the added challenge of only using supplies I currently have stocked on my studio shelves. So after running around the house and gathering up my materials, I had a stack of stuff, that I knew once covered with Washi, would combine and make a sweet and wonderful world!

I love dioramas! There is something so fun about crafting a tiny space, where anything is possible. Where some simple corks can be transformed into a posse of friends, warming their spirits by a colorful camp fire.

To make my Washi World, I decided on a theme. I wanted it to be a bright and happy winter woodland camping trip… mostly because my family and I have been wanting to go on one of these, but the schedule has not permitted it this year, and well, it really hasn’t been all that wintery.
I chose about four different shades of Washi tape from my collection that meshed and felt somewhat wintry. I found a suitable sized box, cut in half, cut off the top and then painted it white using acrylics. I made some trees by covering paper with my Washi tape in strips and then cutting out simple triangle shapes that had a small flat that could fold under them to keep them upright.

The “flower blocks”, which aren’t wintry, but more for displaying a Washi pattern I love (come on this is make believe, I’m just going to say they are winter flowers), well these floral pieces are just tiny wooden craft blocks covered in tape! So simple. And the camp fire sticks, tooth picks also covered in Washi… I think you can see the theme emerging here— Just cover it in WASHI!

The bunting, if you haven’t guessed it already, just a piece of Washi folded over a string and cut into a triangle shape!

To create my tiny spirits, I used some small corks I found in a dollar store, and then painted them different colors and added some faces. To give them a bit more interest and tie them into the scene, I created a pattern on each one of them using pre-cut Washi shapes. I placed a strip, sticky side down, on my cutting board and cut into it with an exacto knife and then pulled the shapes up one by one and placed them on the spirits. It worked out pretty well!

The only thing I didn’t cover in Washi was the sun, because I didn’t have any yellow! But it is taped up with Washi, so that must count for something! Ha!

Once I had all my pieces, I put this little scene together! And I’m pretty thrilled with how it turned out. What fun! It’s like I have my own little winter world to keep me company everyday!

This is a fairly opened ended craft. Anyone can make a Washi World… all it takes is some imagination, some key materials and a whole lot of WASHI! I wonder what your world will be?

  • Box - size of your choosing
  • White craft paper - For painted sun and Washi covered trees
  • Washi, Washi and more Washi!
  • Wooden blocks
  • Corks
  • Toothpicks
  • Acrylic paint
  • Scissors
  • Exacto knife
  • Cutting board

Oh and of course a little magic and imagination!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Valentine - The Love Bird

I’ve been thinking about what to make for Valentine’s Day for a while now. Though I’m still planning on doing my classic hand drawn valentines, I also wanted to create a little extra special something for my daughter this year. And since she is obsessed with all things owl, it made sense to use a bird of prey like creature as a starting point… and that is how my “Love Birds” began!

How To:
The 'Love Bird' craft is basically an added twist on the traditional paper poof decorations, which I am well versed in making, ever since I made the somewhat INSANE decision to decorate my entire wedding with them, and then the even more ridiculous decision to make them myself...thank god for friends!

But I digress… back to the craft!

Okay, so essentially the Love Bird body is a basic 5 1/2“ paper poof with rounded edges! The poof is a little more finicky to make than usual at this smaller size, but with a little patience it’s no problem. Once you have your poof all puffed up, then you can start adding on the parts, which I like to assemble and have ready before hand:

  • Eyes - I like to make my own eyes, I trace and then hand cut the eye circles and use paper punched dots for the pupils. I just like the organic feel. But you could totally use googly eyes no problem.
  • Beak-A triangle cut from orange construction paper.
  • Arms - For the arms, I cut a strip of paper that was 7“ long by .4“ wide. Then I cut three little fingers at the end of each side of the strip. I used construction paper that was the same color as the tissue paper, but that is just me… you can pretty much do what ever you want! There are no rules in this house!
  • Love Letter - I made my love letter from scratch. It’s just a square of white construction paper, with hand drawn lines in blue and red to make it look like lined paper. And then I wrote I love you on it. I think you have the option here to really do whatever you want. You could just make it a heart, or a cloud, or even a tiny envelope with a message inside. Again, sky is the limit! Let your heart guide you!

Assembling your Love Bird! Okay, this is fairly straight forward, the only part that takes a little fussing is inserting the arm strip. You are going to want to reach into your poof, towards it’s center tie, and move the “paper petals” so half your poof is puffing up and puffing down between your thumb and finger (see image).

Now you can wrap your arm strip around the center of the poof, bringing the hands so they are both facing out. Then you can re-fluff your poof so it covers up the center and engulfs and hides and holds the arms in place all at once (see image).

You could add some glue in there, but I found the petals held my arms in place very well.

After your arms are set, it’s time to clear a little spot for your eyes and beak! I just flattened out some of the paper petals where I wanted to see the eyes go, and same for the beak and just glued them right in! Easy- peasy!

Last step is gluing on the letter. Again, just a matter of adding some glue to the hands and holding them in place to the letter…and BAM… your done!

I did some final shaping at the very end, just to give my Love Birds so extra fluff here or there. I think they came out pretty adorable… for birds of prey! I hope my little hoot owl likes them as much as I do! And I hope they inspire you to make your own Love Birds to give to the someone special in your life!

  • Tissue Paper
  • String
  • Construction Paper
  • Googly Eyes
  • Glue
  • Pens
  • Lined Paper (optional)