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Dastardly Crafty

Craft, Crochet and Cthulhu.

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12 month craft challenge

My 12 Month Craft Challenge is over! But here are a few things it taught me…

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In January 2015, I decided I wanted a different sort of New Year’s Resolution.  Instead of giving something up, I wanted to try new things instead.  And so I set myself a 12 Month Craft Challenge where every month I would try a new craft.

Well, I managed it!  My first ever resolution to be kept throughout the entire twelve months.

The challenge taught me several things:

  1. Handmade crafts are worth the money you pay for them. If you are one of those people who go to craft fairs or on etsy, look at things and say ‘That’s expensive! I could make that myself!’ then I say, just try it! Some of the ‘easiest’ crafts I tried, still turned out to be as time consuming or fiddly as more complicated crafts. When you go to a craft fair someone else has spent a lot of time, love and care in making that item. They deserve a decent wage in return.
  2. Crafts are a great way to relax. Last year was a tough one for me in some ways. I suffered with stress, developed an anxiety disorder and had depression.  But having a challenge to do meant that at least once a month I made time for myself.  I did something that wasn’t work.  That was mindful. I came out at the other end of it all and whilst I still battle with anxiety on occasion, crafting helps me calm my mind when I feel it creeping up on me again.
  3. You don’t need to be perfect.  I started the challenge with very simple crafts. Paper mache’ and paper flowers. Safe, simple crafts. As I became more confident, I tried more complicated crafts such as beading. Or crafts that used more than one technique. Sometimes, it went wrong.  I learned quickly, to adapt.

The most unexpected benefit I found in the 12 Month Craft Challenge was that over time, my confidence grew. As I tried more and more new things I decided to ‘just have a go’ at whatever I fancied.  This lead to more complicated crafts and in the end I just metaphorically threw the instructions out of the window to make more creative designs that reflected my personality.

So, am I doing another craft challenge this year?

Not exactly.

I still plan to make things and blog about them throughout this year, but not with a rigid schedule like last years.

I still plan to try new things if I get the urge to do so.

But I also want to have time to enjoy and improve on the crafts I already enjoy.

Expect to see more crochet projects and more powertex. And anything geeky or kawaii.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Month Craft Challenge November – Twin Peaks Charm Bracelet

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I’m very late posting this one. Apologies.

Over the Summer me and my husband watched the Twin Peaks box set (following the news that there is to be a new series) and I enjoyed it so much  that I ordered lots of charms online to make this bracelet.

I tried to get charms that had some relevance to the show such as a ‘queen’ chess pieces, guns, owls, coffee cups as well as beads that looked like they were made of fire.

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The hardest part is making the loops for the ‘fire beads.’  All I can say is it took me a few attempts at making the loop to get it right.

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I also wanted the infamous picture of Laura Palmer as part of it so I printed out a picture and used mod podge to stick it to the frame charm.  I also pasted over the top of it to seal it.

I’m pretty pleased with it! It was a lot of fun to make.

12 Month Craft Challenge October – Fimo ghost in a bottle charm.

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I’ve wanted to make something like this for a while, after seeing miniature bottles on etsy and as it was the month for Halloween, well, why not?

What you need:

Miniature glass bottle

Fimo in glittery white, black, grey and brown.

Sculpting tools (or a biro pen if you don’t have any)

Tweezers.

A headpin.

Beading pliers.

Sewing needle.

Glue.

Using white fimo make your ghost.  Make sure the surface you are working on and your hands are clean as the white will pick up any dirt. Make eyes from black fimo and blend in, once again being careful not to smudge it into the white.  Once done, use your needle to poke a hole through the ghost from top to bottom.  Make sure the hole is big enough for you headpin and your ghost is small enough to fit inside your bottle.

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Now warm up a small piece of brown fimo in your hands so it is pliable and drop it into your glass bottle.  Use your fimo tools or the non pen end of a biro to squish the fimo onto the base of the bottle.  It doesn’t need to be smooth as this is your graveyard earth but it does need to be firmly stuck.

Use white and black fimo to make a tiny skull and a bone.

Use grey fimo to make a gravestone.

Use tweezers to place your skull, bones and gravestone inside the bottle and once again push firmly so that they are attached to the brown fimo on the bottle’s surface.

Now bake your bottle and ghost in the oven according to the instructions on the fimo packet.  Yes you can bake your glass bottle, just let it cool down completely before touching it.

Once cool, push your headpin through the ghost and through the cork lid of your bottle.  Use your beading pliers to make a loop.  (I’ll be writing about how to do this in my next post.) Glue the cork lid to the bottle to seal.

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I really enjoyed making this and would love to make one’s using resin at some point.  If you don’t have a headpin, I have seen some tutorials on youtube that use clear thread instead, although you wouldn’t be able to use it as a charm.

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12 Month Craft Challenge September – Needle Felting

I haven’t been very well these past couple of weeks which is why this one is a bit late.  You might remember me making a kawaii ice cream keyring out of felt back in June.  Well, I decided to have a go at my own felting this month. Continue reading “12 Month Craft Challenge September – Needle Felting”

12 Month Craft Challenge – August Powertex Part Two: plaque inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune.

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This just might be *the* geekiest craft I’ve done (and I’ve done plenty of Lovecraft crochet).

My husband has phases of going crazy obsessive on things.  Currently, all things Dune are in fashion in our house.  After watching the TV mini-series, the fan edit of David Lynch’s Dune and Children Of Dune on Blu Ray during the Summer, I decided to make a Dune inspired Powertex project.

The plaque is made using Bronze Powertex soaked fabric arranged on a plastic plate.  The plaster face was wrapped to make it look like a shawl. I used the elastic edges of an old skirt to make the ‘sandworms’ that are burrowing through the desert of Arrakis in the background and cut two circles of fabric for the two moons.

Once dried, I dry brushed the gold pigment onto it and of course, painted the character’s eyes bright blue to make her look like a Fremen Sayyadina (a wise woman that is native to the planet Arrakis).

This project was far more difficult to do than the decorative bottle, (and I think it shows) but just as enjoyable to make. Powertex might be one of the more expensive crafts I’ve tried this year but it is well worth it!

12 Month Craft Challenge – August. Powertex Part One: Decorative Bottle

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Apologies for being so late with this one.  Firstly I went on honeymoon and then secondly, Powertex is VERY messy so as our house is small and rented, I had to wait for a dry day so I could do this outside.  It turns out that my little starter pack gives you a lot for your money so I ended up making two projects and I still have more powertex left!

This is project one.  It is pretty straightforward to do. Continue reading “12 Month Craft Challenge – August. Powertex Part One: Decorative Bottle”

Powertex Haul!!

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At the weekend, I visited Leamington Spa’s ‘Art In The Park’ event in Jephson Gardens.  It was my first time and I will definitely be going again.  There were lots of amazing artists there, with lots of affordable artwork, jewellery and crafts to buy as well as some demonstrations.

I’ve had my eye on Powertex products for some time now after my mum bought me an awesome plaque from a craft fair she visited in Birmingham at the beginning of this year.  It looks fairly simple to do, however the supplies and workshops are usually really expensive. So I was really pleased to finally find someone selling a starter kit for a reasonably priced £20.

So, what’s in the bag?

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For £20, the kit includes:

500g bottle of bronze Powertex

Small bag of gold Powertex pigment

3 small plaster shapes (I chose 2 faces and 1 heart)

2 small pieces of cotton fabric

varnish

protective gloves

application brush

information/tips on how to use the products to get the best results.

If you are interested, the artist, Annette Smyth creates some wonderful pieces using Powertex that you can view on her website here.

I can’t wait to get started on a Powertex project for August’s Craft Challenge!  Watch this space!

12 Month Craft Challenge July – Beaded bookmark using a bead loom.

I do own a kindle but I still love reading *actual physical books*  The only problem is that I never have bookmark and always end up using whatever I have to hand: an envelope, a bus ticket, a scrap of paper.  So I thought this month I would have a go at making my own using the lots of beads I have that have sat in a box in the spare room unused.

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Equipment needed:

A beading loom,

A variety of seed beads,

scissors,

sturdy thread,

sewing needle,

clear nail polish.

So first of all let’s talk about the loom.

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This is a child’s loom so it is very basic and short!  The only issue with changing styles of craft every month is that I may or may not use equipment again, which could get costly, so hence the cheap and easy option.  If you wanted to make adult bracelets you would need something bigger.  There is a great tutorial on how to make your own cardboard loom for virtually nothing but it seems too fiddly to me.

So the first step is stringing it.  There are instructions with the loom and it is quite fiddly to do.  Basically, you are attaching strands of thread pulled taught across the loom and attached to the pegs like guitar strings.  Your beads will fit in the gaps between the strings

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Now you tie a piece of thread to your first thread on the left, thread a needle followed by five beads, making sure the beads are placed in between the threads, all neatly lined up.  Then insert your needle UNDER the last thread and through the bead.  Do this to all other beads so that you are in effect ‘sewing’ them together.  You will know if you are doing this correctly.  If you do it wrong, the beads will all fall off the thread.  This video explains this technique better than I can in words.

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You can see from the photos above that I tried to arrange my beads to make a pattern.  When it came to the ends, I continued to weave thread through with my needle, just as I had done so before but without the beads.  For the bottom of the bookmark I  added clear nail polish before trimming the remaining thread.  For the top of the bookmark, I tied the end to make a tassel, once again making sure I added clear nail polish to the tips to prevent them from fraying.

This is what the end product looks like:

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It was a fun project to make and I would definitely use the loom again, perhaps to try and make a bracelet next time.

12 Month Craft Challenge – June. Kawaii ice cream felt key ring.

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At the end of last month I got married and we’ve decided to go back to Kyoto in Japan this Summer for our honeymoon!!  So, I wanted this month’s challenge to be something kawaii.  I made this in a couple of hours, but you’ll need quite a few materials despite it being something so small.

What you’ll need:

Felt in beige, cream, red, pink.

Needle and threads in cream, pink, black, red.

Small safety eyes (or you could use black felt circles if you don’t have these.)

Keyring finding (Mine was from The Works)

Toy stuffing.

Red velvet ribbon.

Paper, pen and scissors.  (Preferably scissors designed to cut material)

First sketch out your design on paper. I tried to make mine as simple as possible. Then you need to trace over that design to make up the patterns for your felt components – cone, ice cream, sauce.

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Next cut out your felt shapes.  You will need 2 cones in beige felt, 2 ice cream scoops in cream felt, 1 sauce in red felt and 2 tiny pink circles for the cheeks.  It is handy to put a pin through it to keep your template from moving around while you cut it.

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Start with the beige cone shape, and using your beige thread, sew in diagonal lines vertically down the felt.  Then sew lines across to make a waffle pattern.  This is the MOST time consuming part.

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Now attach your sauce to your ice cream, using the red thread.

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Next you need to add the eyes.  If you are using safety eyes, fold over the bottom third of your ice cream and make two TINY slits with your scissors.  Now push the eyes through, turn over and fix the backs.  You need to push them until they click.  (Behold, you have a zombie ice cream!!)

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You will also need to sew on a smile with your black thread and two tiny pink cheeks.  Then start to assemble your waffle cone and kawaii ice cream by stitching them together. You will need to do the same with the plain cone and ice cream you have left over.  Then stitch them together, stuffing with the toy stuffing lightly as you go.  Remember to leave an opening at the top.

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Thread a small piece of velvet ribbon through the keyring finding.

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Place the ends into the opening you have left and sew round the edge of the rest of the cone to fix the ribbon in place.   And you have a completed key ring!

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