TangleClub July Update

July’s TangleClub freebie has just been added – hop over to the TangleClub Archive for an exclusive-to-TangleClub-members printable Mail-Craft Mini-Zine!  I spent a lot of June playing with my lovely collection of Machin stamps (and making badges from them!) so this mini-zine was the natural progression.  It includes some very easy ideas for making your own, personalised stationery by using & upcycling your own collected postage stamps, plus some Etsy links for further inspiration.

 If you are not currently a member of the TangleClub but want to share the monthly freebie goodness,  click here for all current membership options, and remember, if you spend $10 or more in the TangleCrafts Etsy Store, you will qualify for TangleClub Basic membership absolutely free!

Diversion – organising my ideas

A couple of years ago, I realised that it would be necessary to keep a notebook about my person at all times, in order to jot down ideas when they come to me.  Being me, of course it is always on the days I have failed to throw a notebook in my bag that I need to make notes.  But that’s okay, because there are always scraps of paper to hand, and often whole sheets (which I can then fold down to mini-zine format).  Excellent.

I’ve never been a sketchbook person, because I don’t consider myself an artist, but of late, I’ve realised that sketching quick diagrams to accompany words is actually quite handy; and it really doesn’t matter if the sketches are not those of a talented fine artist.  If they convey the point I’m trying to put across, that’s good enough.  So now the multitudinous notebooks of my life have been joined by a smaller host of pocket sketchbooks (okay, notebooks with blank pages).

As I work at my laptop every morning, I always have my to-do list notebook by my side – which in addition to my long lists frequently finds itself home to numerous scribbled asides and diagrams because it is handier than either notebook, or sketchbook (which I could obviously go and fetch but simply don’t).

You can see from this haphazard summary that I am less than organised  when it comes to organising my ideas.  When it comes to getting a particular idea off the ground, I can always visualise in which notebook or on which scrap of paper I made my notes, but then I have to waste time remembering where I have currently stowed those particular pieces of paper, waste further time digging it/them out, then work surrounded by open notebook/s and/or scraps of paper, while I collate my notes for that particular idea.

So it occurred to me that what I need is a larger sketchbook (scrapbook?) in which I can pull together all the scrappy notes into something slightly more coherent.  Somewhere that I can literally cut and paste torn out pages from smaller notebooks or loose scraps or pictures I’ve found in a magazine.  Then add some extra notes, of course.

Okay, that makes sense: a larger sketchbook.  Not something I would carry around with me, I’m clear on that; because I’m lazy, and a pocket notebook is the largest extra weight I’m willing to carry on a regular basis.  It would be unwieldy, too, and not very practical to whip out for notes-on-the-go.  But how would pasting all my notes into one larger sketchbook work?  Because my ideas rarely come in a coherent flow, and are frequently jumbled up with ideas for different projects from day to day (or hour to hour).  If I pasted them all into one large sketchbook as the ideas came, it would be equally difficult to collate related thoughts when the time came – flipping backwards and forwards through the pages to find the relevant bits.  So, a series of sketchbooks, one for each different idea?  This could get complicated.  And expensive.

My next thought was a ring binder.  Just hole-punch the pages, add in plastic pockets to hold cuttings etc, and easily switch around the pages to re-organise thoughts, and keep notes for individual ideas together.  Problem is, I just don’t like ring binders.  Those rings always get in the way.  And everything looks scrappy very quickly unless you keep everything in those plastic pockets; but then everything is visible but inaccessible.  Hmm.

Bingo!  Well, maybe.  How about an index card system?  I’d only ever seen standard 3″ x 5″ index cards before, but I just noticed that my local office supply shop sells 8″ x 5″ index cards (and holder boxes) that would be perfect for organising ideas.  Cards are sturdier than paper, so would be less inclined to get scrappy (so quickly) and are easily shuffled back and forth, organised and re-organised according to whatever whim I am currently working on.  I’m liking this idea.  Hey, I’m liking this idea even better:

  • a shoebox
  • plus cut-up cereal box index cards
  • plus all those blank postcards I have in my stash that I have never found a use for as file cards (write/paste on the blank side, obviously)
  • equals cool handmade index card system!

Or, I could go the whole hog and just use an actual filing cabinet with a separate file for each idea.  Wow.  That sounds a bit scarily organised.  I think the shoebox is a bit more me…

Of course, realistically (because like I said above, I really am lazy), I would still never get around to actually filing my ideas until the point at which I wanted to turn the idea into something.  But I would have spent some happy hours preparing the filing system.  And I would have a better way of keeping the ideas organised while I was working on them.

And of course, the only reason I am thinking about this now is because I have forbidden myself from new projects until after the house-move so I am obviously twitchy to be doing something creative rather than practical.  Must distract self from distraction…

(Will update on Friends & Faux project soon – please accept my apologies for continued delay, I’ll get there shortly, I promise!)

Adopt an envelope!

Yes, you heard me right, adopt an envelope, if not 5 of them!  These are handmade envelopes made especially for you from magazine pages given a second chance in life, by a lovely girl in Hong Kong (“…trying to travel the world in the most inexpensive way – the internet and the mail with words from the bottom of my heart.”)

Click on the button above for full details. 🙂

Projects in progress…

Firstly, I’ve had quite a few updates on the Friends & Faux project over the last week or so, which I have thus far failed to update here on the blog.  Bear with me, I will be caught up soon! In the meantime, I just wanted to share a couple of projects I’ve recently been playing with…

A couple of weeks ago, I helped out a new friend (illustrator & comic artist Sally Jane Thompson) with a comic & bookmaking event.  The event was held as part of a local ‘celebration of drawing’ called the Big Draw, which sees events held across the city, with the aim to get as many people drawing as possible.
(If you have access to A4 paper, there’s a short booklet you can print to celebrate the celebration!)

Now, I am really not much of an artist, but in the spirit of the day, I decided to doodle some doodles, while I was helping out the kids – just to show that you really don’t need to be able to draw to actually draw something.  If you see what I mean!  I had pre-printed some mini-zine templates (which I have just added to the mini-zine freebie page – enjoy!) because I thought some people may find a completely blank page slightly daunting.  I personally definitely found it easier to start drawing when I had a manageable-sized space before me!  This is what I doodled on the day:

I started with the ‘flowers’ in the lower left corner, then worked my way around anti-clockwise.  I stumbled upon zentangling about a year ago, but despite being quite enthused about it at the time, I never really got into it.  I really enjoyed my afternoon of doodling, though, and am definitely going to finish off what I began.  This morning, I discovered a nice blog, the Open Seed, which has inspired me to try my hand at a couple of new patterns, and reminded me that I really need to get going with completing the above!

The other current work in progress I wanted to mention began in a supermarket.  No, really, it did!  I fell in love with a multipack of Dorset Cereals muesli boxes, and had to have them, despite not having a clue what to use them for, at the time.  I banned Corey from opening them, so that he didn’t ruin the boxes in the meantime, of course  (I’ve since emptied the mini packets out into a single ‘lucky dip’ muesli mix).  It was soon quite self-evident that what these boxes really wanted to be was notebooks, so after a quick glance through my craft library for ideas, I was ready to play:


I chose Japanese stab stitch for the binding, then proceeded to execute a very non-thorough job of researching!  As a result of my lack of planning: you can see that the stitching is very unevenly spaced, because I didn’t stop to think about measuring etc; I couldn’t have as many pages inside as I wanted, because I only had a pushpin to hand rather than a bookbinder’s awl; and I also didn’t leave a wide enough margin on the lined pages I printed off for the inside.  But overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I definitely plan to make some more – after a little spot of fine-tuning!  Lucky I like learning by trial and error (and lucky I like alliteration). 😉

Other things I like about this project: I like the ‘hemp leaf’ stitch pattern, which I thought complemented the leaf design of the cereal packet nicely; and I like the little pocket that I made on the inside front cover, by folding in some of the box flaps (I cut most of the flaps off).  I also love that there is a recipe for making lemonade on the back cover, although I can’t take any credit for that! 😉  Once I’ve played around with the idea a little more, I’ll probably write a tutorial; but if you want to experiment in the meantime, this is a good place to get started.

TangleClub: May update

Are you a member of the TangleClub, yet?  If you are, hop on over to the
Club Archive, where I have just added the latest club-exclusive freebie:
printable postcard labels! (Available in both A4 & letter-size versions.)

Print directly onto  label paper, or just use ordinary paper & glue to transform anything you like into an instant postcard.  From photography to artwork, greeting cards to cereal boxes, these labels will allow you to mail almost anything!

FREE membership to the TangleClub is still available with any purchase from the TangleCrafts Etsy Store (offer extended until mid-May) so please browse at your leisure. 🙂

Notebooks…mmm…

What is it about a new notebook that is just so…I don’t know…enticing? All the unexplored potential it has, perhaps. Or just the invitation to scribble notes for nothing but your own sense of satisfaction. Anyway, for fellow notebook fans, I just wanted to add a couple of links that I found:

Are you a fan of the traditional Moleskine notebook? They’re nice, granted, but do they really justify being at least 3 times as expensive as your average notebook? Well, they do have that handy pocket, and perforated, tear-off pages… Even so, thanks to a couple of very helpful online crafty types, now you can save yourself some money and make your own! Surely not, you ask? But it’s true, I tell you! My favourite is from The Long Thread, and shows you how to make a replica Moleskine Cahier with just a sewing machine and a cereal box (see left).  If you prefer the thicker Moleskine Notebooks, try instead this tutorial from Michael Shannon.

But – and yes, it’s possible! – an even cooler notebook project can be found courtesy of Diane Gilleland over at The Crafty Pod.  This tutorial shows you how to cover a notebook with a wonderfully retro 70s fabric (it would probably work with other fabrics, too but would it still be as cool? 😉 ).  I totally love this tutorial!  It’s not just because I adore these retro patterned fabrics (honest!), but because it actually shows me to how to make something useable with the fabrics I love without having to touch a sewing machine.  Which in my eyes is nothing short of genius.  Sister Diane, I salute you!  😀

Back online! (& Corey’s bookbinding project!)

Such a relief to have home internet back, finally!  I can’t believe it took 2 weeks to fix, but I’m not going to complain too loudly, in case they snatch it back again…!  It’s going  to take me a few days to catch up on all the stuff I just wasn’t able to do whilst borrowing free wi-fi in cafes etc, but then hopefully, everything will be back to relatively normal…

In the meantime, here’s a post I wanted to share with you last week, but couldn’t upload the info.

Corey is not generally the crafty type, but living with me he can’t help but hear about at least some of the ideas I come up with, and clearly I have managed to firmly plant the goodness-of-re-purposing concept in his head, with or without him realising it…!

corey bookHe was producing a booklet/promo pack, to send out to promoters with regard to a trio he has put together. He wrote it, printed it all out, then came to the problem of binding it. We don’t actually own a long-arm stapler, because although I seem to spend most of my life producing booklets of one type or another, I hand-stitch the bindings. However, Corey is not one to be deterred by such minor inconveniences. He thought to himself, “I need a stapler. I know: a paperclip is like a giant staple.” Really? Well, yes – if you make it so.

cover complete 1I’ve just written a zine called ‘Cover-button Moon’ (full details to follow shortly), which is – perhaps unsurprisingly – all about cover-buttons – how to make them, & things to do with them. I wanted to include some buttons with the zine, so I extended the zine covers, and pressed 3 buttons down the right hand side. I then threaded a piece of string through the button loops on the reverse, to seal the zine closed.   Then I thought, actually, if I space the buttons closer together, instead of securing the buttons with string, I could use – you guessed it! – a large paperclip. (I hadn’t mentioned this to Corey, by the way.)  Great minds, and all that…

I’ll post a tutorial for the above button closure once I’ve made up a sample with photos, but in the meantime, here is the ridiculously simple paperclip binding a la Corey:

Corey bookbinding
This tutorial will be added as a PDF to the Freebies section.

Zines update

In my hasty post the other day, I forgot to mention that I have listed some new zines in my Etsy stores.  The culmination of my French knitting experiments can be found in ‘Make Your Own…D.I.Y. French Knitting‘, in the usual TangleCrafts store.

For something a little bit different to my usual offerings, please check out The Tangled Press Etsy Store.  Yes, I have finally started adding some non-crafty zines to this store, and there are more to come.  The first two listings are

  • ‘The Beast: Requiem for a Vibraphone’ – the life story of Corey’s sadly deceased (well, definitively retired, at least!) vibraphone; a photo story featuring & with commentary by ‘The Beast’, and a collection of Corey’s haiku.  ‘The Beast’ comes as a 3 part set, bound into a wallet, with 2 integral pockets.
  • ‘On Flowers & Fairy Tales’ features the 3 lino cuts I mentioned doing recently, as illustrations to a collection of thoughts & poems on, well, flowers & fairy tales.  There are also a couple of extracts from literature, a list of flowers & their meanings, and a bibliography.  If you have a passing interest in fairy tales, I think you’ll find it interesting!

There are several more works in progress, but given my current lack of home internet access, these will have to tide you over for a little while…!

    Super-cool playing card notebooks

    playing card notebooksThey’re notebooks, they’re made out of playing cards, and they’re very cool indeed.  What more is there to say?  Well, plenty, actually.  Check out the full post (including a tutorial for making similar notebooks) over at Diane Gilleland’s Crafty Pod.  Can you resist?  I’m not sure  I can…

    A cool (& quick!) stamp carving project. And some other stuff.

    rubber stampThe wonderful Dollar Store Crafts has once more done that thing it does best and found another fantastic low(/no)-budget crafting idea, this time courtesy of Yarni Gras.  Click here for the tutorial to carve a miniature rubber stamp from the tiny eraser on the end of a pencil! There must be all kinds of variant miniature designs that you could carve with just a few cuts – my imagination is racing!

    This project combines 2 (more) of my current favourite things – eraser carving and crafting on a small-scale.  I signed up to Swap-Bot a couple of months ago and participating in a couple of swaps has really helped me to think outside of the box a little bit, and work on some projects that otherwise may never have seen the light of day.  One was for a mini-zine to fit in a matchbox, which I gave a Borrowers (Mary Norton) theme.  I was really pleased with the result, and am just in the final stages now of expanding it slightly to put out into the world for a wider audience (via my Etsy Store).

    Similarly, I signed up for a swap to make 3 lino cut prints (4″ x 4″ each), to illustrate poetry.  This was a real challenge for me, as I had only done those few small stamp carving experiments I have blogged about, previously.  I was slightly worried when I realised just how big 4″ x 4″ was – much bigger than the scale I usually prefer to work on!  But once I’d signed up, I was committed, and I have made drawings (something I haven’t done for about 14 years!), and very quickly learned some lino-cutting processes, as I couldn’t afford to waste the lino I had bought.  My prints are nothing amazing, but for my first attempts, I’m more than happy with the results, and feel like it was worth pushing myself outside my comfort zone.  I’ve put it together in zine format (surprise surprise) including additional text besides poetry and the prints, because as always, the idea grew.  I will post some pictures once the swap has been completed, and copies will be available a little while later.  Although I’ve hand-carved the prints and bound the zines, it’s a very different piece for me, as it includes no craft projects at all (even the Borrowers mini-zine includes Borrower-crafts).  I’ll reveal more in a couple of weeks…