October Cliff 2016

dsc_0111Papier mache – how could I forget about papier mache? I’ve created many papier mache creations over the years from the sublime (silver and pink waste paper bins that resembled giant Easter eggs) to the ridiculous (life sized palm trees for a pirate birthday party which were reused to great effect as the giant worms from Tremors for Halloween!) but to use papier mache to make the calendar into something useful and beautiful posed more of a challenge. I love Autumn with all the colours and the leaves and the splendour and have been waiting to make use of the spoils collected from various walks round the park so decided to combine the two ideas and make two bowls – one from real leaves and one from paper leaves.
I used some patterned scissors to cut out 20 leaf shapes from the calendar page then cling filmed the top of a glass jug to act as my mould. I did the same to a small glass mixing bowl for the leaf bowl. I layered up and overlapped the paper leaves to create my bowl shape and as always made sure that the “best” leaves (any containing Cliff’s hair or tanned skin) were on the final layer forming the outside of the bowl. I did the real leaf one in two layers, top side of the leaves facing down for the outside and facing up for the inside of the bowl so both sides would both have a pretty finish.
Once the Cliff bowl was dry, I painted the inside using acrylic paints in silver and dark blue in a gradient pattern (or ombre to be trendy!). The finished bowl isn’t as sturdy as I would usually make but is rather lovely in spite of the Cliff-ness! I’ll post pics of the finished leaf bowl at a later date as part of a full post on Autumn crafting. Only two more Cliff craft challenges remain – 3D deer in the forest papercut for November and baubles, bows and frivolities for December I think.

Mother’s Day Card – March 2016

I have always tried to made time to hand-make my Mum a Mother’s Day card. They are usually floral in theme and although I’ve tried many different crafts I usually end up coming back to embroidery. I could probably say something sentimental about my Mum having taught me to sew as a kid (which she did) but I do really like embroidery and feel that I don’t do it enough anymore so it’s always a nice excuse!
This year it was all about the retro fabrics! A while ago I bought a massive bag of paper pieced hexies from a charity shop for the bargainous sum of £3.50 – there must be around 200 of them, all cut out and stitched on to their little bits of newspaper. It was obviously a real labour of love for someone and even included the template made from cereal box card marked with “Don’t throw away!”. Some of the hexies have also been made up into a cushion-ish size piece although the combination of fabrics is a bit odd, to say the least. At some point I plan on using the whole lot to create something – I’ve seen some interesting patterns for little patchwork bags and purses and there are definitely enough hexies to make up some of the traditional 7 shape flower blocks but that’s a project for another time, when I have a whole lot more time on my hands!
The fabric that the hexies have been made from is an eclectic mix – so many different colours, materials, patterns and all of an era (mainly 80s I reckon) – so when I was looking for some fabric to use for my applique and embroidery Mother’s Day Card I was spoilt for choice! I went for a simple pale blue and green floral, a shiny teal chintz and a fabulous lime, turquoise and brown striped pattern. I cut out eight flower shapes and back stitched the outlines of the centres and the petals. For the background, I used a grass coloured piece of felt which I’d stitched stems and stalks on to before attaching the flowers. I chain stitched around the aperture of the card to secure the felt in place. It’s something of an experiment as I don’t like using glue which always seems to buckle the card and the double sided tape that I’ve used previously never seems to last very long before it starts to come away. A quick and simple make – I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

Valentine and Birthday Time – February 2016

Working at the same time as the capelet (although not literally – that would be mad crazy skills!) I made a string of tiny bunting using washi tape and baker’s twine. My collection of washi tape expands on a regular basis, much to my husband’s dismay, so it’s nice to have used some of it to create something so pretty. I think I may have a problem (read addiction) but all the different tapes are so beautiful I find it almost impossible to resist… I created it as part of the decorations for my daughter’s birthday party – but more of that later!
My daughter was born the day after Valentine’s day so February is always a challenge for me craft wise. I’ve therefore this week, also completed my husband’s Valentine’s card. It’s been inspired by one of the many free Mollie Makes kits I’ve received over the years, all nautical and sailor tattoo themed but good fun. The background is a piece of my son’s trousers that were so completely mud-stained at the knees that I haven’t been able to get them clean – put to good use here!
The party decorations / preparations were completed in time and I’m pleased to say, met the incredibly high expectations of my daughter! She had been bugging me for ages to make her a tiger outfit. I compromised by making an A-line tunic from tiger print fleece fabric. It turned out much better than I expected. I bought a metre of fabric which I folded in half. I cut a neckline and sleeve holes then sewed up each side on the sewing machine. I added a floral bias binding trim around the neck to finish it off. Matching tiger ears sewn onto a headband completed the look. The tiger theme continued with the birthday card – a simple embroidery design using felt and more recycled trouser fabric for the background. I made tiger cupcakes and a tiger themed big cake – many, many tigers but I do as I am told! I also crafted a happy birthday plaque type thing – 3D letters, or more accurately words, fashioned from leftover packaging cardboard, covered in phone directory pages (an invaluable source of papier mache paper over the years!), all finished off with coloured tissue paper. I feel this particular decoration will be used and re-used for many birthdays to come!