November Cliff 2016

dsc_0130Firstly I’ll have to apologise for this being late. I did finish it about a week ago but have been frantically trying to finish off Advent baskets (which I’ve still yet to do – three missed chocolates so far!). I’ve gone back to paper cutting for November’s project but rather than a flat picture, this is a 3-d model.
The pattern for this project, a festive woodland scene with reindeer, was taken from Mollie Makes issue 71. Theirs was very on trend with gold reindeers and a blush border. Cliff was posing on a yacht this month which gave me two distinct colours to work with – tanned skin, as always, and beautiful shades of blue from the sea. The tree in the middle was made with 6 flat shapes from plain white paper folded in half and attached together which gave a nice solid base to the whole design – I chickened out a bit and cut them all out with scissors though! The cutting out of the border was a nice way to ease myself back in to paper cutting – tiny circles with a craft knife were challenging but I got there in the end. I’m very pleased with the reindeer – I managed not to chop off any vital parts – legs and antlers remain fully intact! Most of it is put together with double sided tape although I used hot glue to secure the tree to a sturdy piece of card and glued the border in place to make everything a bit more robust.
20161127_222817I really like the finished result! In the magazine, they cover the whole thing in a glass bell jar, I’m too much of a cheapskate to fork out but I can see that it could look really lovely as a centre piece. It’s been decorating our mantelpiece for the past week and I’ll be sorry to see it go to it’s new owner!

Only one more project to go on this whole crazy adventure – I’ll do a round up and reflection at some point and of course I’ll document the big reveal. My brother in law is out of the country over Christmas and New Year so it’s likely to be January before the 12 Cliffs of Christmas are finally handed over – I’m childishly excited thinking about the look on his face!


Easter Lamb Basket – March 2016

You may, by now, have guessed that I like Easter. I’m not religious so my love of Easter is all about new life, baby animals and the first green shoots of Spring after the dark and dreary depths of Winter (crisp, bright wintry days are fab but it’s the sleet and the slush and the whole lack of sunlight that I’m always glad to see the back of). Last Easter (2015) I made myself a bunny basket in shades of blue and purple. This year, I finally got round to making the companion piece – a cute and cuddly lamb basket. It’s crochet in the round in popcorn stitch and I did it in a traditional white (pastel coloured bunny = fine, pink sheep = something not quite right!). Since this basket was a present for my Mum, I thought I should play by the rules for a change! The construction of the basket is identical to the bunny, the only difference is the shape of the ears and the fact that the lamb has a little snout / muzzle for its mouth and nose.
It’s inspired me to try more different crochet stitches. I’m itching to have a go at crocodile stitch and maybe spike stitch – so many other projects to get out of the way first though! I had a slight crisis when I got to the top row and realised I was about three popcorns worth of yarn short so hastily subbed in a tiny bit of white yarn purloined from one of the monthly Mollie Makes kits – it’s round the back, it’s almost the same colour and I won’t tell if you don’t!
Yarn used: Women’s Institute Soft and Silky 4 ply in White
Pattern: Mollie Makes Issue 51

Bunny Bunting – March 2016

Although this pattern was designed as an Easter decoration, I thought it would work really well as a new baby gift for a friend. It’s another Mollie Makes pattern. It was lovely and quick to make (always a bonus) and easy to personalise. I made the bunnies using some of the left over bamboo cotton yarn from the ripple blanket I made for my nephew. I then over crocheted (I think that’s what it’s called) letters into each bunny to spell out the baby’s name, Benjamin. The letters weren’t as clear as I would have liked but the overall effect works OK.

The colours of these bunnies were dictated by my leftovers but I hope to make another string of bunting in yellows, blues and pinks as an Easter decoration for myself – any excuse to trim up!

Pattern: Mollie Makes Issue 64
Yarn: Oddments of King Cole Bamboo Cotton

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!

September Cliff 2016

It’s been a funny crafting month, this month. I went to the Handmade Fair with my Mum a few weeks ago and was inspired with so many more crafty ideas of things to try that I overwhelmed myself. So September Cliff is a quick and simple make, done in an afternoon, to make way for all the other projects I’m trying to cram into my already busy schedule! So – on to paper flowers. I used my trusty Anyone Can Papercraft book as a starting point, adapting the instructions for paper poppies.

Armed with floristry tape and wire I began by using a small piece of foam which I secured with the wire to form the centre of my flower. I then put a small circle of card on top of the foam and covered it with two circles of green tissue paper which I secured with the tape. Wow – floristry tape is weird! I expected it to be like washi tape but it’s only mildly tacky until it comes into contact with itself, then it’s super sticky – weird! I decorated each flower centre with gold marker. Using 5cm by 10cm rectangles of the calendar I fringed each piece with scissors then wrapped it round each flower centre, using more tape to secure. In the poppy pattern that I adapted, the poppies were created using 7 petals made of crepe paper, unfortunately, the size of my calendar pages didn’t afford me the luxury of making more than 6 petals so when I say I adapted the pattern, I was actually forced to, to be able to make the whole project work! Also, once again, the consistency of the calendar paper (stiff and shiny) as opposed to crepe paper (stretchy and pretty floaty) meant that my flowers – using just one petal – kind of look like a bit like cala lillies, which I’m pretty happy with. Cliff on his Harley Davidson in his double denim worked well colour-wise, lovely shades of blue for the petals with white centres. A quick but relatively successful make – all in all!

I’m struggling for inspiration for October so if anyone has any ideas for transforming a piece of roughly 30cm by 40cm paper into something beautiful or functional, please let me know!

Capelet – February-April 2016

I fell in love with Sirdar’s Beachcomber yarn as soon as I saw it. Something about this shade (called Catch the Sun) with its subtle greys and pops of luminous yellow really appeals to me. So when I found it on offer at Hobbycraft for half price, I snapped up 4 balls. I’ve felt like I’ve had a few crafting commitments over the last couple of months so I’ve decided to start this project for myself. I have a pattern for a capelet which, as usual, I’ve adapted to make slightly wider. This means that it will sit slightly off the shoulder rather than up round my neck. The pattern isn’t as pronounced as it could be because of the slubbed yarn but it’s already looking quite beautiful. 14 rows of 234 done – I may have it finished in time for the summer!
I gave myself a May deadline for this project and managed to get it done in April. The design is very simple, the texture is a bit like a waffle pattern created by a p3, k1 sort of sequence. In the pattern, the button was sewn into place through both layers of the capelet but I chose to put in a popper / press stud before sewing the button on for a bit more flexibility. I love the button, it’s made of bamboo and works well with the yarn colours – a chance find during a mooch around the haberdashery section of John Lewis (possibly one of my favourite places!).  This is one of the first actual pieces of clothing that I’ve made for myself other than gloves and scarves and yes it is only one step up from a scarf but I’m pretty pleased with it and I wear it all the time!
Yarn: Sirdar Beachcomber DK in Catch the Sun (shade 260)
Pattern: Mollie Makes Issue 44

August Cliff 2016

DSC_1077For some reason I always associated quilling with “old fashioned” crafting – kind of like the dried flower arranging that my grandmother used to do. I’m not dissing it as a craft but I kind of always thought that it wasn’t for me – until I actually tried it! I need to stop letting my crafting misconceptions get in the way of just having a go! Which is kind of the beauty of the whole Cliff Craft Challenge. I also did an internet image search of quilling and there are some incredibly talented people out there making beautiful quilled fish, birds, hearts and so much more.
I bought myself a very cheap and cheerful set of quilling tools from Fred Aldous a while back (while on a total crafty shopping spree). Three little plastics thingies – I’m sure they have proper technical names which I have no clue about – and a set of 5mm by 300mm paper strips. I cut this month’s calendar into 5mm by 200mm strips and I was ready to go. I picked up a little wooden box from The Works (an absolute goldmine for crafty bargains) with a view to using this as the base for quilling onto. A lot of quilling seems to be decorative pictures but sticking with the functional and beautiful mantra for the year, I decided a box would be more practical and stand more of a chance of getting used! And having said all that about quilling being seemingly old fashioned I went with a totally traditional floral design!
I based my design on one from Anyone Can Papercraft by Elizabeth Moad (I’ve used this book before, I’m sure I will use it again before this year is through!). I started off making the springs of foliage using one of my tools to curls strips of varying shades of green into loose circles before pinching each side to form the leaf shapes. I then attached the leaves in pairs to a single strip. The background swirls were made by twisting up one end of a strip then twisting the other end the other way to make a kind of S-shape. The flowers are all made of pieces of calendar – more specifically Cliff’s face. I wrapped strips of paper around a 9mm knitting needle and secured the end with a little bit of glue, then pinched the sides to make the petals. The centre of the flowers were made by twisting yellow and orange strips really tightly and gluing them so they couldn’t unfurl. I finally attached all the components to the top of the box with PVA glue.
I also had loads of spare strips of calendar and rather than let them go to waste I decided to decorate the bottom half of the box. Simple but rather effective design, strips glued on then varnished with PVA.
I’m really pleased with the end result and now I’ve seen how easy quilling is to do and how impressive the results can be (not including my efforts!) I’ll definitely be having another try at it soon.
Materials: Pack of three plastic quilling tools and 5mm quilling paper pack of 100 both from Fred Aldous (
Pattern: Anyone Can Papercraft – Elizabeth Moad