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Dastardly Crafty

Craft, Crochet and Cthulhu.

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craft

Ooh new tags!

imageI haven’t updated my blog for some time, partly because I’ve been busy working on some stock for my etsy shop. Still need a bit of time tweaking my profile before I’m ready to launch, but in the meantime,  look at the lovely customised tags I’ve just received! I can’t wait to attach these to all the goodies I’ve been making.

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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 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 – 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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12 Month Craft Challenge May – Comic Book Shoes!

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This has been by far my favourite project so far.

I LOVE THESE SHOES!

They are not quite finished as I will need to sand them and find a way of making them waterproof.  If anyone has any suggestions please comment below.

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Wonder Woman.  I have fond memories of watching the old 70’s TV series as a kid with my brother.  And when I used to go to the pub quiz with my old friends our team was always called the JLA, of which Wonder Woman is part of.  So in deciding which comic book to use it was a no brainer.

What you’ll need:

Comics (I used 2 old issues of Wonder Woman that I bought for a couple of quid from Birmingham ComicCon a couple of months ago.  I still have lots of paper left)

Scissors

Mod Podge gloss (I don’t know much about this stuff.  They do make other formulas but this seems to be the one I read about on most tutorials online)

Small paintbrush

A pair of shoes (must have a smooth surface)

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Step One:  Cut out any scenes you like from the comic books into small triangles.  Trust me, the triangle shape makes it a lot easier to stick together and gives aesthetic appeal when you put them all together.  I also separated my shapes into words, characters (I managed to get Superman in there!) and general sections.  If you use more than one comic book, you may get slightly different tones too.

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Step Two: Start to spread a small, thin layer of glue onto the shoe and place your triangle on.  Once in place brush another layer of glue over the top.  Repeat until shoe is covered.  Make sure your paper reaches right to the edges of the shoe.  I tried to put pieces that I wanted to be noticeable on the heel and on the front of the shoes.

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Step Three: Once you have covered both shoes and the glue is dry, you are going to cover the shoe all over with a slightly thicker layer of glue.  This can be difficult to get right – if it is too thick it can go lumpy or dry white instead of clear.  It is also a good idea to put glue around the edges of the shoe first to ensure that there are no gaps.

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Step Four: Once dry, repeat step three two or three times more.

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According to Mod Podge, it can take three weeks for it to cure properly, so I’ll have to wait till then to finish them off.  I can’t wait to eventually be able to wear them out.

12 Month Craft Challenge: March Paper Flowers

With the days becoming lighter and spring flowers beginning to pop up everywhere, I thought paper flowers were rather apt for this month’s challenge.

I made two sorts: one to decorate cards or gifts without wire and the second flower with wire to stand in a vase (or in this case a vintage style bottle.)

What you will need:

Crepe paper printed with a design you like.

Scissors

Glue

Wire (if desired)

Stick on jewels or buttons (if desired)

Both styles are made in more or less the same way.   First cut three equally sized squares of paper.

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Now fold one of the paper squares corner to corner to make a triangle.  Do this twice more until it looks something like this:

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The opening should be placed at the top.  Repeat with the other two squares.

Now, cut each triangle edge into a petal shape.

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When you open it out it should look like a flower shape with clear petal shapes.

With the first piece, cut out one petal.  With the second piece, cut out two petals.  With the third cut out three petals. DO NOT THROW ANY OF THE PETALS YOU HAVE CUT OFF AWAY; you will need them in the next step.

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Starting with the petal on it’s own, roll it into a cone shape and glue the edges.  Do the same with the other petals, so you end up with three cones that increase in size.

Now do the same with the larger flower pieces, applying glue to just one of the petals on each where the paper overlaps.

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If you want a flower to apply to cards/gifts etc, glue each piece carefully together.  You may wish to leave out the smallest cone and glue a gem or button in its place instead.

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If you are using wire, glue the layers together as above, but this time twist the flower at the back to make a point.  Then tightly wrap the wire around the point you have made.  Now you have a stem!

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I made a few of these in different sizes to fill a vintage looking bottle.

 Unfortunately, I had to drink the gin cocktail out of it first. 😉

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12 Month Craft Challenge: February. Stencilling. Hmmmm…

So February’s challenge was to use stencils to make something.

I wanted something practical, so opted to stencil a t-shirt.  First step was finding a stencil I liked.  I love anything rockabilly so I opted for an anchor.  It also meant that the stencil itself was straightforward too.  After a quick google search I found lots of free printable stencils at pixgood.com. I printed it out onto paper and using a craft knife, I carefully cut out the shape, remembering to place cardboard underneath to protect my work surface.

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Now this is where the lesson in common sense and hindsight begins!!

Note to dumbass self: NEXT TIME,  DO NOT PRINT ONTO PAPER, PRINT ONTO THIN CARD.  I didn’t and as a result the cutting out was surprisingly more difficult than I thought, as I had to ensure that I held the knife at a slight angle to avoid creating rough edges.  It turned out okay, but the real problems came later…

Next, the paints.  I found these a few weeks ago in The Works for the bargain price of £4.99.  The set has 8 different colours and it has a spray top, which worked well for my nautical theme.  Only thing is, the set has no instructions at all, other than to say that it is machine washable.

I stuck the stencil to the t-shirt with tape to keep it from moving around.  Note to dumbass self: DON’T FORGET TO PUT NEWSPAPER INSIDE THE T-SHIRT.  I had forgotten this.  I sprayed it, and then realised that if I wasn’t quick, the paint would leak through onto the back of the t-shirt.  I managed to do this just in time.

NOW THE REAL HINDSIGHT LESSON: if you have cut it out of paper, the paper will curl, so you need to spray quick to keep the shape of your design.  Obviously, if you have done the sensible thing and cut it out of cardboard, you won’t have this problem.  Mine LOOKED fine.  But it wasn’t.

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I had to wait for ages for it to dry, but when finally I removed the paper I found that my anchor design looked a little blurry around the edges and in one part, the paint had made a hideous big blob where it had spread out following the curling of the stencil.  DISASTER!  I wish I had taken a photo at this point, but I was so busy trying to think of ways to fix the problem that it slipped my mind.

So, I found some other fabric pens I had hidden away in my craft boxes and tried to think of a way to neaten it up.  I used a metallic grey pen to draw an outline around most of the anchor.  Then I used the vibrant pink colour to paint a flower shape over the large blotch at the top of the anchor.  I added a second, smaller one to add balance to the image.

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This is what it looked like whilst wet.  You can see the blurred blue edges where the paint seeped under the paper.

When it dried the final design looked like this:

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So the verdict: I thought this would be straightforward to do but it wasn’t.  However, this was largely due to a lack of common sense on my part!  Despite this, it was fun to do and I would love to use the spray paints again.

The final thing will be fine as a t-shirt to lounge around in at home but I won’t be wearing it anywhere else.

March Craft Challenge: Paper flowers.

12 Month Craft Challenge – January’s Project Completed

In January I discovered a number of things:

1) Craft is an effective way to relieve stress.

With news of redundancies at my workplace, there have been some real tough, emotional days.  Sitting down to just focus completely on making something has really helped me to switch off from all the crazy crap going on.

2) That paper mache is a lot more fun when you are still knee high to a grasshopper.

I don’t remember feeling so impatient waiting for layers of paper/paint/varnish to dry when I was making Blue Peter projects as a kid! Perhaps its because I no longer have all the time in the world to spend crafting, but I found all the waiting around frustrating.

3) That paper mache is not a winter craft!

It is cold, slimy and makes your fingers wrinkly from all the time spent soaking your hands in water and glue.  In hindsight, I should have waited for the Summer for this one.

4) That people, other than my nearest and dearest read my blog. 

When a colleague at work stopped me to say he enjoyed reading my blog and that he thought I should paint a panda design…well, how could I refuse?  So the final project is indeed, a kawaii style panda.  Here it is:

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So my final thoughts on this project?  Well, whilst it was interesting to do something different, there is no replacing my love of yarn and crochet.

February’s project: Stenciling.  Watch this space.

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