Whether slightly flawed or torn or simply too common, the stamps which find their way into my collages are primarily from the philatelists’ reject pile – Continue reading Which are the weeds?
The lovely Britta (of JaguarSnail) has found yet another potential faux postage perforation solution for us to try and I, for one, am sold!
While rummaging in a junk/antique shop recently Britta came across a pair of rusty, slightly odd-looking scissors with teeth on one side, where the blade would normally be. When she asked what they were for, she was told they were thinning shears, used in hairdressing. Who knew?! (Not us, but probably many other people in the world…) Anyway, I tried out Britta’s shears and they did indeed make neat-if-square-ish perforations which tore off nicely, so I immediately ordered a cheap pair of (new!) thinning shears to try for myself.
Mine arrived this morning, and when I tested them out, not only did they make a lovely perforated edge to my new artistamps, but they separated them in the same swift movement, without any need for tearing! (I’m assuming Britta’s shears only pierced holes because they had been dulled slightly with with age and use.)
I’ve just made a new series of artistamps, printed on self-adhesive label paper, using my most recent postage stamp collages as background images. Here I’ve done a comparison test, first using a serrated pattern tracing wheel to tear off a stamp, and second using the thinning shears (not shown to scale!).
The auto-separation of the paper after using the shears means that rather than pre-perforating a whole sheet of stamps to tear off as needed, I will be cutting off one stamp at a time, but I like the clean edging so much, I’m pretty sure I can live with that compromise!
I designed the sheet of artistamps from notebook covers collaged in July. This is my first notebook collage of August in a combination of some of my favourite colours: an imaginary landscape which only narrowly missed the window of joining the artistamps above! Check out the TangleStore listing for more details.
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:
Image from Gift Wrap Set by IHavea LittleDream
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.
It’s felt like a very long time in the making, but my Borrowers zine is finally complete! I actually wrote the main text for the zine back in June, when I made a miniature zine to fit in a matchbox, for a swap. I really went to town, and included a set of pins for Homily’s ‘knitting needles’ and the lens from a pair of reading glasses to magnify the text. I wanted to expand the idea before I released it, though, and around printer problems, internet connection issues & various other deadlines, have finally managed to get everything finished!
The new version of the zine is A5 (half-sized) – but don’t be disappointed if you were hoping for a matchbox zine: I have also included a printout of the miniature version, matchbox templates, a page from a rescued edition of the Borrowers, and a magnifying lens, so that you can make your own micro matchbox zine!
The larger format of the zine just means that you can read all of the text without straining your eyes! If you ever wanted to find out more about Borrowers, this zine is your place to begin, tracing Borrower history back to Lilliputian times, looking at depictions of Borrowers in literature, as well as considering the likelihood of Borrower colonisation in your own home… I have illustrated the text with lots of pictures that I have ‘borrowed’ from the many various editions of ‘The Borrowers’ that have been published, over the years.
Both the mini & full-size zines include 5 Borrower-inspired projects, taking elements from Mary Norton’s classic depictions of Borrower life, such as postage stamp art, re-purposed junkmail, a retro rug to put red blotting paper to shame, Homily’s knitting needles, and – of course! – the classic matchbox chest of drawers. The larger version of the zine also includes additional resources for re-purposed & miniature crafts, as well as spaces for you to fill in your own Borrower-themed ideas!
As a taster, or just if you want to play with any matchbox-themed craft, I have posted a matchbox template in the freebies section. Enjoy!
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…!
He 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.
I’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:
This tutorial will be added as a PDF to the Freebies section.
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…!
The 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…
In my office, I have drawer of ‘potentially useful stuff’ (or as Corey would prefer to call it, tat). The contents range from postcards to pencils, doorstops to stones, from ribbon to a plate rack. Today I was looking in the drawer for inspiration, and I found it! Today I saw French knitting looms…:
I used to have a French knitting doll; you know the type. Mine was called a Knitting Nancy. I’ve also seen them called knitting spools, knitting reels, etc. Traditionally, they are one of the ultimate re-purposed or at least handmade craft tools. Back in the days before all cotton reels were made out of plastic, they were made out of wood; and in those days, french knitting dolls were made very simply by hammering 4 nails into the top of the wooden reel. I wanted to make a French knitter, but it’s impossible to get the wooden reels, any more (unless you are willing to pay ridiculously high price on an auction site). However, my drawer of potentially useful stuff yielded all kinds of interesting possibilities, and I have spent a happy Sunday morning trying them out.
Once you start thinking laterally, there are literally tonnes of everyday things you could potentially make a French knitter from. For my first experiment, I used a doorstop, with 4 push pins pushed into the top around the hole, spaced at regular intervals. The pins pushed in easily, but were held securely. I used an ordinary paperclip with the outer ‘leg’ bent down into a straight line to hook the yarn over the pins. The hole in the centre of the door stop narrows off to approx. 5mm diameter at the bottom, but the cord that was knitted expanded to ‘normal’ size once it came through. A normal double knitting yarn or a thick embroidery cotton would fit through without a problem.
For my second experiment, I wanted to see how the size of the centre hole affected the thickness of the cord. I used a reel of brown insulation tape (I don’t think the colour of the tape matters, except perhaps aesthetically) with a central hole of approx. 3cm. I didn’t use the tape up first, by the way (that’s still available for a future occasion); it doesn’t really make much difference either way. My advice would be to push the pins into the inner cardboard ring, though, as when pushed into the tape they move about more. Using 4 pins, the cord was about the same thickness as the door stop cord, but a much looser knit, because of the hole’s diameter (and therefore the wider spacing of the pins). The cord was not as sturdy as the first cord, but if you especially wanted a looser, lacier effect, wider spacing of pins around a larger hole is the way forward.
For my third experiment, I used the insulation tape knitter again, but pushed in an additional 4 pins, spaced roughly 1 cm apart around the centre hole. It was fascinating watching a real web build up between the pins, and it was obviously going to be a much closer knit than the previous experiment. The resulting cord was far more obviously tubular than the previous cords. The knitting looked like the finger of a glove (prompting me to ponder on the usefulness of ‘gloveless fingers’ as a substitute for fingerless gloves…). The knit was just a standard tension, not especially tight or loose, just ‘normal’.
Conclusion: It is the spacing (and therefore number) of pegs that affects the diameter of the cord, rather than the size of the hole itself. 4 pegs would produce roughly the same diameter cord whether knitted through a 5mm or 5cm hole, but the knit would be looser, the more widely spaced the pegs are. The larger the centre hole, the more pegs can be used, and therefore the diameter of the ‘cord’ increases accordingly – and the less cord-like it becomes.
The tubular aspect of the third experiment prompts me to imagine all kinds of possibilities. If you used a larger reel of tape as the loom, you could knit a drawstring coin pouch very easily. Or if you knitted a VERY long cord, a tubular scarf. If you found a much larger circle to use as a loom, and used a strong, non-elastic, yarn (maybe string, or garden twine?), you could knit a seamless shopping bag!
I have also previously made a successful knitter using the plastic centre of a cash till roll, with 4 paper clips clipped around the top edge. The paper clips were held in place surprisingly firmly by a single covering of sellotape. So if you don’t have push pins to hand, but you do have paperclips, you could try taping them around the inner circle of a reel of tape, instead.
Another thought: you could cut the base of a disposable drinking cup, and cut notches (like the turrets of a castle) along the rim to make a different sized knitter. Honestly, if you think about it, you can use almost anything!