Papier 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.
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.
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!
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!
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
For 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 (www.fredaldous.co.uk)
Pattern: Anyone Can Papercraft – Elizabeth Moad
Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently. My laptop finally called it a day after many years of faithful service and unfortunately all of my photos were saved on it. They are backed up but I haven’t got a replacement laptop yet so I’m having to use my work computer to post as and when I can. Also it’s school holidays so childcare commitments mean that I don’t have quite as much time as usual to craft or blog. Normal service will resume soon I promise but you may have to bear with me (and my ridiculous sideways pictures) for a couple more weeks!
2016 crafting continues apace. I made a new hat for my Son using a tiny baby hat pattern. I made the largest size and used chunky wool instead of DK. I made a similar one for my daughter maybe 3 years ago which kind of still fits! This hat is on the large side at the moment but is bright and colourful so should last him a while. It was fun and quick to knit and I’m pleased with the result. I shortened the recommended turn back bit which makes it mushroom out a little. I also added a bobble (using my trusty bobble maker!) It’s possibly an unconventional fashion choice but when you’re 2, anything goes!
The hat took almost the whole ball of yarn but with the remainder, I made a string of rainbow bobble baubles – gotta love a bit of rainbow action!
Yarn: James C. Brett Party Time Chunky in shade 4
Pattern: James C. Brett JB011
Bit of weirdness with the photos – I can’t turn some of them round, I don’t know why…
My final projects for 2015, once the blanket was out of the way, were a crochet headband with tinsel yarn trim from 30 Minute Crochet plus a mini basket – both in Peacock Bamboo Cotton as it was the only yarn I took away with me when we went on our Christmas travels across the country! I was working on Christmas Eve so managed to whip up the bow while I was manning the incredibly quiet phone lines. I tried to crochet the whole bow in tinsel yarn but it is far too difficult to work out where the stitches are – definitely a yarn better suited for knitting.
I also did the £2.00 work Christmas present challenge in style (the idea is that you have a maximum budget of £2 so you have to get creative!). Up-cycled tea light holders made from baby food jars decorated with glass paint – one each of holly, stars and spots, crocheted baubles which were completed on a train coming back from Bristol with my sleeping son in my arms, baked Christmas shortbread plus other edibles and stationery bits all presented in hand stitched stockings made from a felted jumper that I’ve been meaning to do something with for ages. The jumper had been shrunk by my brother in law’s girlfriend, she was gutted and couldn’t face throwing it away so passed it on to my daughter – it did pretty much fit her but as with all accidentally shrunken clothing was a bit of a funny shape so I acquired it! I really enjoyed doing the tea light holders, I need to spend more time with the glass paint markers, apparently they can all be used on ceramics too – maybe a mug decorating project beckons?
A very productive end to 2015 all in all and 2016 began in a similar vein with the first new baby crochet bunny completed by 5th January, this time in Maypole Baby Crofter with a purple felt face and lime stitching and by chance I managed to find a matching vest to parcel up and send off – smiles all round!
Yarns: King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK in Peacock (shade 531) and Sirdar Snuggly Baby Crofter DK in Maypole (shade 173), oddments of the Bamboo Cotton used for the baubles (see previous posts for details)
Glass paints: Marabu GlasPainter in Reseda (shade 61) and Petrol (shade 92) and Edding 751 Gloss Paint Markers in Metallic Gold (shade 53), Green (shade 74) and Pink (shade 79)
Patterns Used: 30 Minute Crochet by Carol Meldrum – bow and basket, Crochet Guide from Homemaker Magazine Issue 38 – baubles.
Before I started rabbit number 2, I started work on my fourth blanket. Crochet ripple this time. There were many moments of deliberation before the final colours were selected and work began in August, a few weeks before the arrival of the intended recipient. I chose 8 shades of King Cole Bamboo Cotton, a bit of a compromise between using Sirdar Baby Bamboo which is gorgeously soft but very expensive and using a cheaper acrylic which may have been harder wearing but not quite special enough for what I hoped would become an heirloom new baby gift. I was very pleased with the colours available and the Bamboo Cotton is also washable – definitely a bonus! We knew the gender before the baby was born but I didn’t want to make it all out “boyish” just in case and anyways everyone needs some Damson and Saffron in their life!
I wasn’t sure when I started. A friend began a similar ripple blanket around the same time and I’d heard reports of the foundation chain being hurled across the room in frustration! Luckily for me, the experience gained from the ripple baskets meant that the whole process was relatively painless, it just took blooming ages!
The blanket in progress travelled on our family roadtrip across the Channel to Normandy and back again via Cadbury World Chocolate Factory, yurt camping in the rain in Somerset and a visit to Stonehenge. I took it to work to put in extra time and the whole thing became a complete labour of love – I definitely owe a debt of gratitude to my work colleagues who became my personal cheerleaders and got me through the final push. It was finally finished in December and given to my nephew as a first Christmas present. It wasn’t perfect but it was beautiful.
I did a treble ripple pattern and changed colour after every two rows. The photos don’t quite do the colours justice particularly the deep purple of the Damson. I edged the whole thing in a bright teal colour (Peacock) which I love! See previous post for matching rabbit and shoes.
I’m not going to say no to doing another blanket but I think what I need to do is start using chunky yarn rather than DK so it grows more quickly and doesn’t drive me quite as mad – give me another six months though…
Yarn Used: King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK in shades 1643 Pale Mint, 518 Ice Blue, 635 Lawn Green, 533 Green, 525 Cobalt, 609 Glacier, 524 Damson and 637 Saffron with 531 Peacock for the edging.