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!

All mapped out…

Most people, in the course of experimenting with folding their own envelopes, have also experimented with folding envelopes from sheet maps.  It’s kinda cool, especially if you happen to have a map handy of your own area.  Taking this idea to a new level is the very clever free toy (uh, I mean tool) available at Map Envelope.  Simply enter a landmark (such as Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty) or a specific postcode or address, and it generates a printable envelope template using google map aerial photography.

You could use it for your return address, or directions for a party venue, or to show where you went on holiday – I’m sure there are all kinds of creative uses for this toy (sorry, tool)!  You can even add a message of your choice in the speech bubble.

It is designed as an envelope ‘liner’ (so you would slot it within an outer envelope), but I don’t see why you couldn’t fold it with map to the outside, instead, and save on the extra paper.  Of course, you could just make your own, anyway, but this tool definitely makes the process a lot easier!

Meritocracy

I’ve been a little bit fascinated by merit badges, lately.  The only time I’ve ever had something like this in real life was when I was in the Brownies – where the only badges I specifically remember earning were the Reading Badge (Enid Blyton, I believe!) and the Collector’s Badge (I really need to dig out that coin collection…) although I’m certain there were more.  Why should such activities be confined to children, is what I wonder?  Well, it seems I am not alone in such ponderances, as a little browsing brought up all kinds of fun stuff that I now feel obliged to share…

First up is the Make Do Mail.  I just couldn’t resist – it’s a zine full of DIY projects & recipes, it’s a club with a membership card (doubling as a handy kitchen conversion chart), and it also includes a DIY merit badge for you to embroider yourself, once you have worked your way through the club booklet.  How’s that for feeling like you’ve earned something?!  I am a little previous mentioning this, as I have only just ordered my membership pack/s but I’m sure I will be back to tell you more once my
goodies arrive…

Next up is from one of my old favourites, the Letter Writers Alliance.   First you need to join the LWA (follow the linked text or image below), but then you can sign up for the quite wonderful new ‘Initiative Response’ program.  You can only sign up by mail, and then you will receive in return a letter of introduction to the program and a form comprising a list of tasks to be completed for your chosen initiative/s (choose from ‘World Traveler’, ‘Typist’ and ‘Out of the Box’).  If you complete the tasks successfully, then (and only then!) you will receive the appropriate hand-embroidered badge as your reward.  I love so many aspects of this.  The whole point of the LWA is to promote the nearly-lost art of writing letters so it is wonderful that there is no option to join the program online: you have to apply by post.  And I like that you have to complete the mail-related tasks before you receive the badges – which will be sent to you by post.  I will definitely be doing this & will update with further developments in due course! 🙂

But if all that ‘earning’ feels like a little too much like hard work, you must check out the quite astounding Lee Meszaros Etsy Store, which offers badges for everyday occurrences and personality traits that most of us can achieve without even trying (although it’s still nice to be recognised for! 😉 ).  I picked out ‘Pushing the envelope’, ‘Being just my type’, ‘Letting the cat out of the bag’ and ‘Being proud as a peacock’  but other categories include ‘Surviving first love’, ‘Taking the cake’, ‘Never changing your spots’, ‘Making lemons out of lemonade’ – you get the idea!  All sorts of everyday triumphs are recognised in these witty badges.  Each badge is silk-screened, hand-painted, hand-embroidered, and comes with its own presentation certificate  – they really are miniature works of art and would make wonderful gifts.

What merit badge are you holding out for?

Zines I Like #8: Star Farmer by FyreFies

Star Farmer is an awesome series of mini-zines written & hand-drawn by SuperMay of FyreFies.  Each 16 page zine introduces a range of plants grown by the star farmers (each illustrated and including its latin name), notes on the properties of the plants, cultivation tips and warnings such as: “The bud of the Red Dwarf was used in love potions and lover’s sachets until it was discovered that any romance started using the Red Dwarf ended in tragedy.”  Volume 3 explores the latest star farming trend for ‘hot pink’ varieties, and Volume 4 proffers advice on various elixirs and therapies available for enhancing growth of star plants.  In short, unless you have a severe allergy to whimsy, you will love these zines!

The FyreFies Etsy Store is currently & sadly devoid of Star Farming manuals, but hopefully they will return soon.  In the meantime, there are some rather nice vintage illustration digital files available.

Owls! (& some other stuff)

Yesterday evening, I partook of a local Etsy ‘Make & Mingle’ get-together.

(That’s me in the middle, Britta left & Corey right.  Picture taken by Gina of Lulu and You – you can read her blog post about our evening here.)

There were only a few of us, but it was good fun, and included a felt brooch tutorial with the lovely Britta Jarvis of Jaguar Snail.  My wonderful-yet-decidedly-non-crafty hubby Corey also decided to get stuck in, and Britta was very patient guiding him through the processes involved, such as…um…threading a needle…  I should not be mean, though, as he did actually very successfully add beads & brooch back to felt to create this personalised (see the ‘S’ bead, in the middle?) flower brooch for me. 🙂

There were flowers, hearts & owls to choose from template-wise, and those who have read my blog previously will not be surprised to learn that I opted for the bird-themed option.  I’ve not stitched anything for a while but really enjoyed doing something different, for a change.  Mine is the owl shown above right.  My friend B also made an owl but made the inspired choice of a light blue thread for the blanket stitch border, and I was quite jealous that I hadn’t thought of it!  Britta herself went beading crazy on a tiny purple heart, and managed a huge amount of pretty, sparkly, intricate detail in a very short time!

Despite lack of blue edging, I am very fond of my little beady-eyed owl brooch (and of course Corey’s flower, too!) but don’t worry, you will not be finding a new line of felt brooches in my Etsy store – this was strictly a one-off for me!  Instead – for something a little more professional! – do check out the Jaguar Snail Etsy Store, for Britta’s gorgeous family of hand-stitched owl brooches.  Each one has its own unique personality & funky fabric awesomeness, and look – they even have tiny feet embroidered on the bottom! How cute?  Very cute!

Zines I Like #7: Once Upon a Time by Dudley Redhead

Yes I know, it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to something fairy tale-based, but this particular mini zine appeals to me on so many levels: not only is it a mini mini zine (half the usual size), but it comes in the cute packaging shown left, and comes with a matching badge.  What’s not to love?  The zine features reproductions of original illustrations to 8 fairy tales & nursery rhymes, painted on vintage book pages, alongside brief musings about the illustrated tales.  Cute!

There is all kinds of beautifully packaged mini-zine loveliness to explore at the Dudley Redhead Etsy Store & there’s even more inspiration to discover at the Dudley Redhead blog such as the DIY business cards & mini envelopes shown below.

Zines I Like #6: One a Day May 2011 by WalkerWorld

Yipes – thought I had better blog this before it becomes 2 months overdue, rather than just 1…!  The May issue of Laura Walker’s One a Day project features more daily snippets from her zine-filled life – from newspaper headlines to comic strip re-enactments, from photos of shadows to taking the dogs for a walk, from reactions to the failed Rapture to letters from prisoners. Life goes on!

Check out One a Day zines both old & new (& more!) in the Walker World Etsy Store.

Zines I Like #5: How to draw like a Nut by Andrea Joseph

Yay – another handwritten – and hand-drawn – zine!  This 16 page, half-size zine is completely jam-packed with incredibly detailed drawings (all drawn with ballpoint pens), creative inspiration, tips & techniques, and lots and lots of text meandering around the prolific illustrations.
The first double page spread, in a ‘cunning’ play on the zine’s title, consists of a detailed tutorial of how to draw a monkey nut shell.  On subsequent pages, Andrea rambles engagingly about shoes,  pens, where she finds ideas (“anywhere & everywhere (but as I am reclusive they mainly come from around the house)”), and if following the text around in multiple directions does not make you feel seasick, you will pick up lots of practical tips, as well as inspiration.  And lots of anecdotes about Andrea’s life & habits. There’s also a fun double-page spread of Andrea’s living room, complete with 10 loose ballpoint pens for you to locate!

As we all know, I personally cannot draw, and did not labour under the illusion that this zine would magically teach me how.  If you already have a degree of artistic talent, however, it might give you a few helpful pointers.  Most of all, though, this zine is just a funny & fascinating insight into a creative mind, combined with many pretty impressive ballpoint illustrations.
Visit Andrea Joseph’s Etsy Store for your copy.

Zines I Like #4: Miss Sequential #4 by Marissa Falco

I love handwritten zines!  And this 24 page, half-size zine is entirely handwritten & hand-drawn.  In addition, it’s subject is entirely postal related, so this zine could really hardly fail to win me over.  The zine charts Marissa’s relationship with letters & mail from pre-school onwards, including letters written in code, early penpal failures, a template for making your own upcycled envelopes, illustrations of mail received, penpals past & postal workers known, and a handy resources page.  And lots more, of course.  There is lots to recognise here in the world of the postal-obsessive, so highly recommended.  Visit the ThimbleWinder Etsy Store to
snaffle your copy.

Zines I Like #3: Dark Side of the Building by Fiftysticks.com

This 16 page, half-size zine is mostly handwritten (with a typewritten essay by Grace), and has a machine-stitched spine.  Nice.  Contents give a thorough explanation of the concepts of dumpster diving and freeganism (extreme recycling), including advice on getting started, tools of the trade, safety, and how to deal with potential run-ins with the police…

The diagram left demonstrates exactly why I am unlikely to ever go dumpster diving:
free stuff + me = yes please;
dirty + me =
no thanks.
Even my zines are far from their grubby, cut-and-pasted, photocopied roots (but that’s okay; it’s just my interpretation of a form).  But that is exactly what I like about this zine: it informs me about something I will never ever do, but is nonetheless fascinating, and I do agree with in principle; and the handmade style of presentation makes for interesting reading in and of itself, too.  Find out for yourself, zine available from Fifty Sticks (because one more would be too many goddamn sticks).