Another crafternoon…

December frequently escapes me somewhat, with birthdays, increased busy-ness at work, and the forthcoming seasonal festivities, all piling on top of my days which already feel very full.  But earlier this week I did manage to make time for another get-together with the lovely Britta of JaguarSnail.  We had some fun playing with my new envelope punchboard – we struggled to follow the instructions, bluffed our way through to success by trial & error, then found that the instructions did make sense, after all… 😉  I really love the results & there will definitely be new TangleMail-designed envelopes  coming soon (probably not until the new year).

Britta brought with her a brand new zine, the seeds of which were sown on our last crafternoon a few weeks ago.  On that day she made a miniature mock-up of the concept, and I have to say she’s done an awesome job of following it through.  If you have ever aspired to invent a new life form, this is the mini-zine for you!

Mythical JaguarSnailEach page features an ordinary creature – man, lion, eagle, cobra, goat and carp (some interesting choices!) – and each page is split into 3 segments so that you can mix & match your own mythical beast!  There is even a section at the back of the zine where you can log and name your favourite hybrid creations.  The drawings are really cleverly done, with lots of character, and perfectly aligned so that any combination (of the many possible!) slots together smoothly – yet another example of Britta’s talent!  There are only currently 5 copies available of this labour-intensive, slightly-larger-than-average mini-zine, so don’t miss out!

first class notebooksBritta was also inspired by the sea of stamps that were overflowing in a corner of my craft room, and followed up on her previous stampy works by customising a couple of stray notebooks I had lying around.  One of these was snapped up overnight (the other is still available, at time of writing), inspiring me in turn to follow her example – see pic to the right for even more First Class Notebooks, this time stampified by me.  These are all one-of-a-kind creations, so if one of them catches your eye, be quick!

There’s something about that repeated motif – the same but different every time, thanks to the unique combinations of postmarks – and the patchwork effect of the randomly combined colours that never fails to fascinate me…

Britta and I generally have no problem thinking of new creative ideas, but our ‘crafternoons’ are definitely motivational for both of us to actually get down to putting the ideas into practice.  When I say that a sea of stamps was overflowing in my room, I’m actually being literal rather than gratuitously poetic – but now we have actually made a real start on crafting them, I feel far less like I am about to drown in them…!

Here’s to crafty afternoons!

Perfection isn’t perfect

norway spruce“The Spruce Fir is generally esteemed a more elegant tree than the Scotch pine; and the reason, I suppose, is because it often feathers to the ground, and grows in a more exact and regular shape: but this is a principal objection to it. It often wants both form and beauty. We admire its floating foliage, in which it sometimes exceeds all other trees; but it is rather disagreeable to see a repetition of these feathery strata, beautiful as they are, reared tier above tier, in regular order, from the bottom of a tree to the top. Its perpendicular stem, also, which has seldom any lineal variety, makes the appearance of the tree still more formal. It is not always, however, that the Spruce Fir grows with so much regularity. Sometimes a lateral branch, here and there taking the lead beyond the rest, breaks somewhat through the order commonly observed, and forms a few chasms, which have a good effect. When this is the case, the Spruce Fir ranks among picturesque trees. Sometimes it has as good an effect, and in many circumstances a better, when the contrast appears still stronger; when the tree is shattered by some accident, has lost many of its branches, and is scathed and ragged. A feathery branch, here and there, among broken stems, has often an admirable effect; but it must arise from some particular situation.”

from Woodland Gleanings by Charles Tilt, 1853

Stitched up…

Wise Words - badges by TangleCraftsOne of the items in the TangleStore which ticks over regularly is this set of 3 ‘Instructional Craft Badges‘, featuring vintage book illustrations and ‘sage advice from bygone crafters’.

I was singularly tickled to receive an email yesterday from Kris Bailey with a pic (below) of what she had done with her set!  Putting slight feelings of inadequacy aside (suddenly my plain kraft packaging looks somewhat lacklustre…) I’m sure Kris’ friend Jan* will adore this witty, hand-lettered, handmade birthday card with badges for embellishment – so much fun!  I’ve been thinking about making some cards to go with the badges for ages (who doesn’t love a badge on their birthday card – especially if it doesn’t tell their age! 😉 ), and Kris has definitely provided me with some inspiration here.

Birthday Badges

This rather pleasant surprise set me to thinking – have you done something creative with any TangleCrafty goodies?  If so, please do drop me a line.  It’s fascinating to see what happens to my stuff after it ventures out into the world…

(*Jan Eaton, author of numerous needlework books – by the by, but an interesting snippet nonetheless!)

Summer sale!

Just a quick note to alert you to the £1 Summer Sale just launched in the TangleStore – head over now to pick up a bargain (or two)!  Some of these items will be entirely discontinued once the sale ends, and some will revert to their original higher selling price, so don’t miss out.

Following on from the recent TangleWeed explosion, the ideas have been flowing fast & furious, so watch out for all-new lines coming soon, just as soon as time allows me to move a little further along the path of actualisation.  I’m getting there!  I’m going back to my TangleCrafts roots for one of these projects, but recycling an old idea by wrapping it up in a completely different concept.  Can’t wait till it’s ready to show you!

no new news cover sqAnother special offer for June can be found in the ETPrintworks Store which is currently offering the No New News Notebook (fairy tale zine, diary & notebook all-in-one) absolutely free when you spend £5 or more (excl. shipping)…

A Richness of Martins*

My dad has passed away – 3 weeks and 3 days after being given just a few days to live.  His strength of character was remarkable, and I appreciated more than can be said being able to spend so much time with him before he passed.  We were grateful for every day and minute, time that was only possible because he was so determined.

Please be aware of the early signs of bowel cancer so that somebody you love is not taken from you before their time.  If you can, please help to raise awareness by donating to Beating Bowel Cancer or purchasing a Project Dissimulation badge or zine from the TangleStore.  Thank you.

* A richness of martins is the traditional collective noun for the martin, a bird from the swallow family.  In case it’s not obvious, Martin was also my dad’s name.

Newsworthy

It’s a while since I created an Etsy Treasury, but I was thinking about newspapers and this one turned out to be very easy to compile!  There are all kinds of upcycled artwork and newsprint-inspired creations here – check it out and be drawn into the most creative headline news:

NEWSWORTHY

Image from Gift Wrap Set by IHavea LittleDream

newsworthy

Crafty resolutions

Since my Christmas stocking project last week, my fingers have been getting all twitchy to do more crafty/stitchy things.  So I just created this treasury of DIY craft kits over on Etsy, which is full of crafty ideas for inspiration – but also the materials necessary to get started straight away.  As procrastinators will agree, not having the necessary materials to hand is the best excuse not to begin a new project, so these kits leave you with no excuses! 😉

Being totally honest, the packaging often attracts me just as much as the projects themselves, and is often just as original.  The DIY Instant Comfort Boxes by Kim Welling are a case in point; although I also have a huge soft spot for Pupurin’s Little Kitty Kit.  Those with a mildly sick sense of humour (who me?) may enjoy the 1/2 splat kit (must click to discover what this is, although the title is quite accurate!); while any embroiderers looking for a creative challenge should take a look at the wonderful Crafting Shelves kit from This Tiny Existence.  Well, take a look at the whole treasury: there are all kinds of craft kits from all kinds of crafters so hopefully something will inspire you!

My own crafty plans for the new year include a return to weaving, thanks to my lovely hubby buying me ‘The Ultimate Bead Loom’ from Fred Aldous for Christmas.  I’ve already constructed it (yes, I did in fact sit & construct it on Christmas morning), but the next stage is on hold while I figure out whether I’ll be using beads or yarn, and what I actually want to make.  My current impulse is to make a big mess of colour…  But what I love about this loom is the fact that it can just sit on a worksurface in front of me and the weaving area is (sloped) upright so that I don’t have to bend over it as I work.  I love using bead looms for small-scale weaving, but most have a horizontal working surface which my back does not enjoy.  😦  I will let you know how I get on as and when any projects emerge. 🙂

Besides that, I have a freshly acquired small stash of funky fabrics and wool felts that I am itching to play with, and lots of ideas in mind.  I can’t resist all the patterns, and the combinations of colours; and after my stocking project, I really got a feel for having a needle in my hand again.  My mother has claimed the unenviable task of teaching me to use a sewing machine, but this will be another slow-burner due to not living in the same city, not to mention my reluctance mainly concerning the noise of the thing.   I really just prefer having space to hear my own thoughts, but then again, I’m generally very good at tuning out sounds from the real world that attempt to permeate my inner world (how dare they!), so maybe I can tune out the sewing machine, too…  Again, I will keep you posted.

So, how about you?  Any crafty plans and/or resolutions for the new year?
Please share & inspire/motivate the rest of us!

TAB Project Update

It might seem as though I have forgotten about
The Achievement Badge Project since its launch, but I haven’t!  Although I must concede that I have definitely been running a little behind…
I have caught up, though, and have to say how very cool the latest batch of entries is, with achievements ranging from map-reading without getting lost to being accepted onto an Open University course at age 14 (wow, Adel Wilson – congratulations! – preview above right) to ‘not being perfect but being normal’. 🙂

The  Gallery  has been updated today (current total 11 entries) but is only available to those who have joined the project, so start thinking about what you have achieved this year – however minor or major – and design a badge to
reward yourself.  You deserve it!

The closing date for the TAB Project is December 31st, 2011.

Don’t forget, TangleClubbers can claim 1 free entry (see August Archive freebie), and downloadable entry forms for everybody else can be found on the
TAB Project page
.

Wow – that was tedious! (But kind of interesting, too.)

Folksy (that’s the Etsy of the UK) has very recently undergone something of a makeover.  Now I’ve got over the initial surprise at the change in appearance, I think I’m decided it’s quite a clean and funky new look.  What’s tedious about that? Nothing!  The tedious part is that alongside the makeover there have been all kinds of tweaks to product listings – so there I was earlier today, wondering what I would do with my evening – and now here it is, gone!  I have been into each of my listings to add minor extra details such as materials used, colours (not especially relevant to most of my stuff), my location (um, could that be made a fixed field, please?) etc.  Yes, those were the tedious bits, and it took forever going into each listing to change everything.  But the interesting addition they have made is a huge space for each listing headed ‘inspiration’ .  This sits just next to the product description beneath the photo on the item page, so there is the appearance of columns (yes, like a newspaper; yes, that’s one reason why I like it).  Hmm.  Yes, it was probably this which took up my evening…

I found it interesting that when I was pinpointing the inspiration for a particular project, I found that in some cases I was providing information that I wouldn’t have included under the product description.  I doubt anything I’ve written will be the deciding factor for somebody browsing the store (sarcasm alert: “oh, I must buy this now – she says it was based on a project she took part in!  Wow!”); but on a personal level, I’m always interested in the ideas behind projects, and an item with a story is always more interesting to me than one without.  And also on a personal level, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane figuring out what was my jumping off point or starting brief for some of the older projects.  I’d totally forgotten some things until I set my mind to it.

So anyway, if you’re like me & curious about where an idea began, take a browse around the Folksy TangleStore*, and while you might not learn anything earth-shattering, you might learn a few ir/relevant and/or random extra details that you otherwise might never have known.

I apologise for the overuse of the word ‘interesting’ (& its derivatives) in this post…

P.S.  If you are not in the UK & feeling excluded by all this Folksy talk, don’t!  I’ve decided to go through & add the international shipping option to all the Folksy listings, so they will soon be available to you, too.  Give me another couple of days, though, because I don’t think I can face all that editing again tonight… :S

At Home With Handmade Books

If you are anything at all like me, you will find that a very comforting title!  I have just treated myself to this lovely book by Erin Zamrzla, even though it is quite expensive over here (£18.99 for a softcover!) and even though I have many many other bookbinding titles on my shelves (if creative bookbinding is something you’re interested in but you don’t know where to begin, allow me to highly recommend anything by Alisa Golden!).  So what makes this one different?

Well, a lot of it is in the presentation, which is very simple and unfussy, but in a considered way that is intrinsically interesting.  The first third of the book presents the photo gallery of projects and the latter portion the instructions.  This is a formula that I have disliked in other books, but here works well, due to good quality instructions and repeated (smaller) photos.  But I guess the real reason I don’t mind is mostly because the projects themselves are so appealing.  There is nothing extravagant about this book or its contents and the projects, too, have an air of calm simplicity.  There is a wide variety of techniques, different stab stitch bindings, different ways of presenting similar ideas, and showing how easy it is (/can be/seem) to create something original and interesting from a very standard starting point.  Yes, I think that is what I like about it.  It is not (only) a book of projects but a book of adaptable ideas and inspiration.

You will find all the usual suspects within the pages of this book: accordion folds, envelope pocket books, various stitch bindings, but it’s the ideas for use, and the (often re-purposed) materials used in their construction that makes them interesting:  a menu/place card, read & write bookmark, return to sender mail book (above right)  – actually, maybe those appeal to me just because they tie into my own preference for dual-function…  But I also am itching to try the very simple bead binding  (right) and ‘ledger stitched’ seed packet book (lower right), too.  This project is of course far more effective if you have such prettily illustrated seed packets to hand as shown in the pic; but I think the standard flower packet photos would have a (slightly different) charm of their own…

I used to be far more experimental in terms of my zine bindings/construction, and have  definitely got into a saddle-stitch and ‘standard’ mini-zine rut of late.   That’s mostly due to practicality of multiple reproduction & the simplifying factor of re-using my existing templates, but this book has inspired me to start thinking a little more creatively again, even if only for some one-offs or limited runs.  I can see that some of the ideas in this book would not really be much more labour intensive than the basic 3-hole saddle stitch, so it’s time to shake off the dust and try something if not new exactly, then at least different than my usual. 🙂

Okay, I have a question for you!  I’m not a tea drinker so the Tea Bag Tracing Book project shown left intrigues me.  The pages are made from actual tea bags, and the accompanying text says, “If you are an avid tea drinker, you will collect the pages in no time.”  But surely if they had been first used for tea then the pages would be stained in tea colours (and also crumpled)?  Would it be practical to wash & iron a tea bag after use to re-use as a book page?  Or are empty tea bags available that could be opened out and used as pages without first having been used for tea (which would surely defeat the object of re-purposing…)?  I’m genuinely slightly puzzled by this, so am looking forward to enlightenment from one of you clever people ‘in the know’ on the subject! 😉

ETA see comments below for, amongst other things, why I was stupid to ask the above questions! 😉