When I discover a new crafter or artist whose work I enjoy, I always want to know more about them – where they draw their inspiration, how their ideas develop, why a particular piece took that particular direction, why they use one technique rather than another, or any number of things about their personal ‘story’. Sometimes an artist is especially open, and all sorts of information might be available, but many people – myself included – simply don’t know where to begin when talking about themselves and their work. With this in mind, I have drawn up a series of questions designed to extract the kind of information that I would often like to know, and I will be asking fellow crafty types to share their answers. Continue reading CraftSeller Q&A: TangleCrafts (Part 1)
Over the last couple of days, I have been weaving yet more postcards. Why? I hear you wondering… Well, partly to try out some different yarns, partly to try out some alternative woven postage ideas, and partly for…another reason. Where are the postcards going? What are they for? Well, this time I’m not sending them to myself, but I won’t say more than that for now – look out for updates!
My postcard from a couple of weeks ago (right) was woven with an aran weight knitting yarn. The ‘stamp’ was a very basic surface needle-weave which hid the background weaving nicely. The more recent postcards, however, were woven with a less bulky (dk) yarn – largely because I simply could not find the blues I was looking for in a heavier weight. (I always find it surprising that despite the vast array of yarns out there, sometimes it’s impossible to find one that matches the colour in my mind’s eye…)
I soon discovered that the same simple needleweaving came nowhere close to covering the background. I got around this by weaving diagonally (both directions) across the grid that was formed, and this did the trick.
For the sake of experimentation, I also tried weaving the ‘stamp’ as part of the main body of the postcard weaving, rather than as an embroidered addition on top. I instantly liked the way the splicing together of the envelope & stamp colours gave the appearance of a serrated edge (well, at top & bottom, at least) and will most probably use this method again.
I still also want to experiment further with the matchbox loom, though, and applique a tiny weaving onto the postcard, instead. Another day, though…!
One of my most enduring projects, dating almost from the inception of TangleCrafts, is the Handwoven Postcard Project. It started life in a now-retired zine, has been through various incarnations, and is currently available both as a part of the Postcard Recycling Kit, and the DIY Weaving Handbook. Much as I love the idea of it, and despite a couple of (very welcome!) contributions, the Handwoven Postcard Project never caught the imagination of my followers in the same way as either Going Postal or Friends & Faux. But I’ve kept the project open anyway, because I like it.
Okay, time for the confession…: I never actually wove and/or sent a handwoven postcard myself! Yes, I hang my head in shame; but it’s true. Shame on me!
Well, I can confess only because I am about to rectify the error of my ways. Who wants to guess what I did with my day off today? Anybody? Yeah, not a tough one, really: I spent today weaving a postcard. And here it is! A very simple plain weave in pretty heathery colours (lovely Noro Kureyon). Tomorrow, I will be adding a stamp to the reverse side (2nd class rather than 1st class only because the colour will match better; Corey rolls his eyes at me for this, which I think a little unfair…), and posting it to myself, so I can see first hand how it survives its journey through the postal system. It won’t have far to travel – will that make any difference? A woven postcard from Hawaii survived its journey far better than one from Manchester (see link above). so it’s definitely a tough one to predict. I will of course update with the results once it arrives home.
Here’s something else you won’t be expecting, given my recent wanderings of attention. I’ve added a brand new, step-by-step Handwoven Postcard Tutorial to the TangleClub Archive, so that my long-neglected TangleClub members need feel neglected no more.
However anybody, yes anybody is welcome to join the Handwoven Postcard Project, so if you are inspired, please get weaving and send your postcards my way. All pics will be shared, and you will have taken part in one of the most exclusive mail art projects out there! 😉
I first hosted Friends & Faux back in 2010 and although slightly fewer project postcards made it home due to my moving house (twice) than might otherwise have done, it was still an awesomely fun project to co-ordinate. The project postcards feature ‘gallery’ spaces for 8 artistamps/faux postage stamps, and are filled up as they are passed from one mail artist to the next before the completed card finally returns home. I recently compiled 3 mini-zines showcasing the completed postcards that arrived home safely. And I’ve also been preparing for a re-launch of the project…
Friends & Faux (version 2) has a new logo, plus its very own blog where I will be posting regular updates on postcards sent out into the world, progress reports from participants as they add their artistamps, and, of course, the homecoming celebrations! I will also add random faux postage/mail art snippets, on occasion. During F&F Version 1, I was alerted to the fact that some of my handmade postcards did not withstand the rigours of multiple mailings too well (peeling surfaces etc) so I have had the new postcards professionally printed to hopefully avoid a similar fate. And if I move house again (please join me in hoping not!), I have implemented a new way of accessing the postcard return address, so hopefully I will be able to keep on top of any unexpected changes much better this time around..,
As of yesterday, the first 20 postcards are on their way out to who knows what adventures in the world, and more will follow in the near future. If you would like to learn more about the project, please visit the F&F blog, and if you would like to join in the project, you will find a brand new Friends & Faux Filately section in theTangleStore. In fact, you can request an F&F postcard as an absolutely free add-on with any purchase at all from the TangleStore or ETPrintworks. More news to follow, as it occurs! 🙂
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!
Another 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)…
As April is bowel cancer awareness month, I was keen to get the first issue of the Project Dissimulation zine completed in time for April – so keen that I managed to be finished early! When I first put out a call for donations of bird-themed used postage stamps and artistamps, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what exactly I would do with them, although the title chosen for the project obviously lent itself to working with collective nouns (a dissimulation of birds being the traditional collective noun for a group of birds). Once I sat down to get started, though, the idea shaped itself and the first zine was quickly born, as well as a series of badges.
So far I have completed Volume I of the zine, a matching Project Dissimulation badge (I will create a new badge design for each issue, so they can be collected!), and bird badges made from upcycled postage stamps for anyone who would like a completely individual souvenir of the Project:
The first issue of the Project zine features a variety of collective nouns for birds, illustrated with selected used postage stamps which were donated to the Project. I’m not sure yet how many zines there will be in total, but I will keep going as long as there are stamps to work with. 🙂 In addition to the current items available, there will soon be a one-off chance to buy a set of badges made from the actual stamps used to illustrate Volume I, as well as bird badges grouped by species. As the Project progresses, I’m also planning envelope seals, address labels, postcards and mini-notecards – watch this space for updates & availability!
If there are any bloggers out there reading this who would be willing to help spread the word with a mention of the Project (please feel free to ‘borrow’ any of the pics used in this post), I would really appreciate your help, too – the more people we can reach, the bigger difference we can make. 🙂
Just a reminder that I still have an open call for bird-themed used stamps (& artistamps) for Project Dissimulation. I’ve received some beautiful stamps already, and am really looking forward to craftifying them! The first Project zine will be issued in April, to coincide with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (in the UK; not sure if this is international or not), but I will be continuing to collect stamps & artistamps for the project & will release further mini-zines as material is collected. Follow the link for full details of the Project & how you can help.
If you’re fond of postage stamps but don’t have any bird stamps for the Project, don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you! I’ve also recently decided to clear out some of my excess hoard of used Machin stamps – can I tempt you? I’ve put together some colour themed packs in the TangleStore so that you can creatively upcycle them however you choose, because with the best will in the world, I will never have enough time to use them all myself! I’ve also put together a couple of packs with a stamp-upcycling mini-zine for inspiration. This mini-zine was written in 2011 but hasn’t been available for sale before & will only be available now while my stocks of these used stamps remain. See listings for more pics & info.
My laptop is on the brink of death: sad but true. It’s okay; I have a new (/reconditioned) laptop ready to step into the breach, but I’m not allowed to play with it just yet, because it’s my birthday quite soon. No problem, I don’t mind waiting; but in the meantime, I really didn’t want to put my poor old ailling laptop under any more duress than necessary. Cue a little device that the lovely Corey bought for me months ago and I duly ignored because I’m not really very into technology… It’s mobile phone-sized, and will allow me to check my email while out & about. Don’t need anything fancy, so now I’m in laptop preservation-mode, it’s perfect! Only problem is, Corey had an identical one & smashed the screen of his within weeks. Oops. So having dug mine out of its (unopened) box this morning, I knew that I would also need to devise some form of protection for it.
Easy! I remembered a little ‘handy pouch’ I made earlier this year, when I was still high on last year’s felt/fabric stocking success! It didn’t turn out to be quite as handy as I had hoped, at the time, due to being just the wrong size for everything I could think of. However with an extra fold of felt tucked inside for added protection, it turns out to be a perfect fit for the aforementioned email-checking device (I’m sure the device does lots of other clever things as well, but with the exception of a little web-browsing, I assure you all those other functionalities will be entirely under-utilised!). Without further ado, here it is:
I loved the blue/brown paisley fabric when I acquired it & was determined to make something I could actually use with it – so I’m really happy now that I’ll be able to use & see it on a daily basis. 😀
I will definitely not be making multiple ‘handy pouches’ for the TangleStore, as sewing is very much a means to an end for me, and really not my favourite way to pass time. But TangleClub members, watch out! I actually remembered to take step-by-step pics as I was making the pouch, so I’m going to put together a tutorial for you (in the freebie archive) very soon (remember I am very much a novice at sewing, so it is very much a beginners’ project!). I also thought of a potential good use for all the fabrics I’ve been stockpiling but never using – would anybody be interested in a ‘handy pouch’ kit? I’m going to give it some thought…
Yesterday – my last day off before Christmas – I had fully intended to get into the festive spirit by (finally) putting up our tree, and wrapping presents. I failed. Why did I fail? Because instead I was inspired by a project I saw recently by friend & blanket stitcher extraordinaire, Britta Jarvis: mini stockings (shown right). Suddenly I decided that that was what I really needed to do, in order to start feeling Christmassy. (I think it was the thought of the stocking fillers I have for my parents & sister, combined with the realisation that stocking fillers without a stocking aren’t even really fillers…!)
Britta’s stockings were made of felt & – as implied earlier – beautifully blanket stitched around the edges. But as this was a completely off-the-cuff decision on my part (definitely no time for shopping!), of necessity my stockings were made from whatever materials I already had to hand. Luckily, although under normal circumstances I will tell anyone who will listen that I cannot sew & have a hate-hate relationship with my sewing machine, I am powerless to resist pretty fabrics & hoard them, anyway.. Thus, no festive colours whatsoever, but I think I like them all the more for that! And although I did begin by attempting a blanket stitch edging on Stocking #1, I very quickly unpicked after realising my non-proficiency in terms of seamstressing meant that I would do far better to work concealed seams, instead…
Stocking #1 has both sides cut from a tea towel, with no attempt made on my part to align the pattern in any way – as clearly seen! I drew a rough stocking shape freehand onto the reverse of the fabric, then flipped it over & drew around it for a matching reverse side. I might have done better to do a quick google search for a stocking pattern to trace (the ‘neck’ of this first one came out a little narrow), but I just wanted to get on with the project, so I decided not to worry about it. The open end of the stocking, I hemmed the edges using a very primitive running stitch – yes, it could have been neater, but it was good enough for me. 😉
Stocking #2 is made from a thinner fabric, so to avoid flimsiness, I opted for a sturdy craft felt for the reverse side. Brown would probably have been better, but orange was the best match available from my stash. I tried to make the neck slightly wider this time, and the body slightly fuller (must remember actual gifts need to fit inside!) .
I think Stocking #3 shows positive results from my little learning curve, with proportions far more convincingly stocking-y. The body is less rounded, yet has far smoother curves at toe and heel – guess that’s what happens with practise! 😉 Each of the stockings is approx. 7″ tall, but the widest point of Stocking #1 is 5″ across, compared with 6″ across Stocking #3 – it’s amazing how much difference such a small measurement can make to the overall look. I must confess, I’m kind of in love with Stocking #3, which is why I was motivated to actually take pictures before we parted company…
As a finishing touch, I used an off-cut from each piece of fabric used to make a matching badge, which I then pinned to the heel of Stockings #2 & #3 (& the toe of Stocking #1) to brighten up the plain reverse side. The badges are removable, but I think they look kinda cool. 🙂
Given that every year I fully intend to make my own Christmas cards but never actually manage it, I’m very proud of myself for actually managing to do something handmade this year! It only took a couple of hours to complete all 3 stockings, and that was including any minor mishaps needing to be recovered along the way. I’m sure anyone more proficient with a needle (or sewing machine) could whip these up far more quickly than I, but the experience has nonetheless left me feeling quite positive (& indeed slightly inspired) about future handmade projects. Felt plus fabric is definitely a successful combination.
Hmm, suddenly I am feeling the need to collect felt in a wide array of colours…
No hang on, I do still need to put up that tree & wrap presents…!
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!