The bumblebee flies anyway

combboardweaveAt my local Pound Store, they sell 2 mouse mats for £1. While I try, in principle, to be against unnecessary consumerism, I am powerless to resist the lure of a potentially useful bargain.  By useful, of course, I don’t actually mean practical in ‘normal’ terms; more craft-able.   I bought them a while back, and one (with a comb glued along the top) was used as a very handy weaving loom.  The other is also very useful: I use it upside down (foam upwards) when I’m making zines & booklets to cushion the pin-stabbed bindings while I stab them.

I’ve been thinking for a while about carving a stamp, either out of a carving block, or an eraser, or…something.  I’ve never really been into rubber stamping as a craft, yet there’s something very appealing in the more primitive aspect of a hand-carved stamp.  I’ve seen some very cool & funky designs around on Etsy, and the simplest of designs seem often to be the most effective.  I thought it would be nice to personalise packages I send out with a stamp from a hand-carving, or maybe use a stamp on the cover of a zine, instead of printing.

Anyway, this morning, there is no coffee in the house, and I am having difficulty getting motivated to get on with stuff.  So for some reason, I decided now is the time to try carving a stamp.  No erasers or carving tools to hand, I just cut a chunk from mouse mat #2, and carved my design freehand with a craft knife.  I could have drawn bee-block1 my design first (just as you can’t see the carving too well to the right, you can’t see pencil marks on black foam rubber, but I could have outlined first with the knife); but I just got stuck straight in.  This is why my intended ball of wool is now a bumble bee… 😉 bee-printI also forgot, in my eagerness, that the design would be reversed in the printing, so it quite took me by surprise to see my bumble bee flying in the opposite direction when I lifted the block (no coffee yet, you see).

For my first attempt, I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and will definitely be doing further experiments!  My trial print (above left) went straight onto the corner of one of my stash of board envelopes (I love the idea of using a stamp as an actual postage stamp), so if you buy anything from the Etsy store in the next week or two, you might receive this very bumble bee, in the mail!

In short, I feel my £1 shop bargain has been well-justified!

Inside out

Craig Oldham is an ex-footballer, now designer; I stumbled upon his site whilst looking for something completely different.  I’ve seen lots of  craft projects lately that transform the printed interiors of security envelopes into cool new concepts, like beads, and even business card storage.  The elegant simplicity of this idea, however, blew me away: just carefully turn the envelope inside out for a completely fresh envelope that you can now re-use!
[Update, already! – I just found this how-to tutorial, at Design Sponge]

security-envelopes

Craig is also running the hand.written.letter.project, which is, quite simply, all about reminding people that in this wonderfully technological day and age, there is still something inherently nice about getting a personal letter (probably more so than at any time in the past, as they are so rare these days; that’s the point).   I totally agree, & I’ll be sending him a letter this week.  Why don’t you?  (see his website – link above – for details.)

Tidying (shudder) but finding various stuff & ideas

I am not a tidy person.  I like to have what I need spread out and accessible around me – and still there the next time I sit down to continue.  But I have been so busy lately, and putting together kits and zines in the tiniest corner of my really quite large study made me realise that the ‘essentials’  were spreading out of control.  So I got out some bin liners and set to work…

You see, the problem is that what to most people would be genuine rubbish (misprinted papers, discarded packaging) I can genuinely see uses for.  The cardboard packaging from a random stationery item can generally be turned into some form of loom.  The half-printed papers I can use when I’m experimenting with my own packaging formats, or notebook pages.  I was strict with myself, though, and made boxes for full and partial sheets of paper that I could realistically re-use, and sent the rest for recycling.  I threw away the chocolate wrappers (look, I need energy while I work, okay?).  I was ruthless with the random packaging leftovers.  Admittedly I kept most of the card, but the plastic-y bits, and shrink-wrap etc are gone.  Hurrah!

By anybody else’s standards this room would not look tidy (except perhaps by Corey’s standards – and he at least will never nag me about the state of my study, because his is infinitely worse).  It probably looks like everything has just been pushed out to the edges.  Okay, to an extent, this is what I did…  But I have also slightly organised all the stuff I was ‘saving’ so that it is  actually useable and accessible (findable!), I have thrown away the stuff that really was rubbish (oh my god, 2 bin liners-full!) and I HAVE FLOOR SPACE!   Oh, oh, I also have table space!  It’s really quite exciting (for me, anyway).  So nice to look across from my chair and see carpet, and think I won’t have to nudge everything out of the way to make space when I’m putting the next zine together (watch this space – if I don’t post about TF2 later today, it will definitely be in the next day or so!).

And I brought up a pot of hyacinths from downstairs, so every now and then I get a lovely waft of their rich scent.  Mmm…

I fully accept that I should not have allowed my ‘creative disorder’ (okay, mess) to get quite so out of hand; there’s just always so much more important stuff to do than tidying…  It has always been and will always be my nature, and I’ve accepted that.  It is also possible that it took me slightly longer than perhaps necessary to tidy up this time, as I kept re-discovering things I had accidentally buried.  Yes, it was necessary to spend 10 minutes staring at & contemplating a small packet of needles.  It was!  When I bought it, it was just an ordinary packet of needles, and I honestly thought nothing more about it – but look!  I made this:

needle-packet-notebook

Yes, I know the picture labelled ‘front’ is actually a different packet of needles to the finished notebook, but I’d finished making it before I realised I should probably have taken a ‘before’ picture.  You get the idea, anyway.  I just cut some pretty (recently unearthed) handmade paper embedded with petals to size, and attached to the centre panel of the opened-out needle packet (see below).  I used a dab of glue to fix the bottom piece of paper to the packet, and stitched the little stack of papers into place.  (I could just have easily have used a staple, but I’m kind of into stitched bindings, at the moment.)  Just a slightly different spin on the matchbook notepad concept, really – and slightly more appropriate to needleworkers.

needle-packet-notebook-inner

(I should really remember to add in a darker-coloured backing when I scan in white/pale blue things; sorry…)

D.I.Y. Weaving update

Apologies for my recent silence – I promise that despite a lack of blog posts, TangleCrafts has been a hive of activity lately.  The Etsy store has been doing a roaring trade, and it has kept me on my toes staying on top of all the orders. If you have signed up for the D.I.Y. Weaving Club, rest assured despatch of the first month’s instalment is iminent! I have spent most of today printing and packaging, and I will be visiting the postbox no later than Saturday, so your bundles of weaving goodness will be with you very shortly.  Hurrah!

bumperbundlestring[N.B.  If you missed the deadline signing up for the March D.I.Y. Weaving Club, don’t despair!  You can still buy the first zine, Telaic Fantasy #1, or you can still sign up for April (and beyond) D.I.Y. Weaving Club, including a different mystery kit.  If you just want a taster of what you might be missing, get a one-off Bumper Bundle to try it out – you won’t get quite as many goodies as a club member, but it’s still lots of fun!)

mock-upI have also added 2 new items to the Etsy store: a Weaving Bowl, and a Postcard Recycling Kit.   If you follow my blog, you’ll know I occasionally have the girls round for a ‘Crafty Day’ (the most recent one, we all pitched in to make some ‘unique’ wedding invitation cards for Trish).  I laid out a prototype weaving bowl on my first Crafty Day, and 2 of the girls dived straight in.  It’s just a fun thing to leave out in your home.  When somebody stops round for a chat, they may or may not feel inclined to weave something, but hey, it’s nice to have the option!  I love the postcard recycling kits – just add the labels to front & back of a postcard-sized piece of card and you’re ready to begin!   It’s a great way to introduce a crafty friend to the joys of weaving…

I’ve also added some new pics to the ATC and Play Your Cards Right kit pages, as I have been playing with the packaging, and it’s all changed.  Well, the content remains the same, but I’ve re-done all the booklets, and the packaging is now pre-printed (still by me) with integral pockets, rather than using labels and envelopes.  I told you all that ‘research’ into ELF really was research!  To be honest, I’m not sure if I have decreased my workload with the new packaging or not, but I’m much happier with the way it looks, so I’ve achieved something, at least…!

Last but not least, the next issue of ‘Telaic Fantasy’ is in the final stages of preparation.  Watch this space next week for a bumper issue!

So you see, I meant it when I said I’ve been busy – and that’s not the half of it!  As soon as TF2 is ‘on the shelves’ I’ll be back with some more free projects for you, as well as notebooks (yes, notebooks!), and some more new kits which I’m really excited about.  It’s an ongoing process, and a seemingly neverending flow of new ideas.   I’ll never be able to squeeze enough extra hours  into each day to get throuigh it all, but I can have fun trying!  See you soon…

Mini Magazine Notebook (with pockets!)

I was thinking about how to present the next issue of ‘Telaic Fantasy‘ (just because I have a model that works doesn’t mean I can leave it at that – that’s just not the way I am!).  I wanted a cover with integral pockets, so I played about folding a piece of paper in various ways, and found something that worked.  It’s slightly smaller than I would have preferred, so whether it will actually be the model for the next TF remains to be seen (although I can always add extra pages, to compensate).

Front, back & inner of a readable notebook!
Front, back & inner of a readable notebook!

But I had some magazines lying around in my room, and I used them to experiment with the format rather than using up my printer paper.  I thought the combination of pretty pictures and random text worked really well – I love the idea of having a notebook with something to read on the cover, when you get bored!

Rather than have a roomful of empty prospective zine covers, I stapled some blank paper in the middle of the prototypes to make mini notebooks.  Okay, so I thus used up some of my printer paper, anyway, but now it’s in handy notebook form, so justifiable!  Notebooks are like bags (no, really!) – you can just never have too many.

Click here for the how-to & template to make your own notebook out of the page of a magazine (or whatever).

Front cover, inner & back cover of 2 notebook prototypes
Front cover, inner & back cover of 2 more notebook prototypes

Another ‘origami’ cd wallet

True to my word, I played about with a few more ELF ideas yesterday morning, and it’s one of these new variations that hubby has decided is best (read ‘easiest’).  The folding got a bit fiddly on the original wallet I found: my variation works on the same essential principle, but takes it right back to basics.

Click here for a free template (print directly onto your paper so you don’t have to measure anything!) and instructions.  You can also use the template for guidance if you want to design and print your own cover for a cd, too.