Thursday, June 24, 2010

First adventures in decoupage

I've been curious about decoupage for a long, long time. I've also had a cheap-o box with a cheesy picture of a happy couple for a long (singular) time. I didn't take too much care when doing this - I realized one of the reason I'd probably been putting this off was because I was overthinking it.  I just chopped up one of my Bizarre magazines and off I went with a paint brush and some Mod Podge (which is basically the same as PVA glue, I think). I made sure the wood wasn't dusty or anything, gave it a layer of the glue, smoothed my paper over it, covered with another layer of glue, and left to dry thoroughly.
I'm pretty happy with this result - it's a bit more convenient for opening and rooting around in than my current jewelery box. And then I thought, gosh, I haven't made any jewelery in a while.
This was made with Shrinky Dink (well, the brand I use is called Poly Shrink and I buy it here)*, which, if you've never heard of it before, is friggin' amazing stuff. Before use it's A4 sheets of what essentially feels like thick acetate. You draw what you want on, either with markers, crayon, pencils, whatever (you may need to sand the sheet before using crayons or pencils. Markers wise, I've only got good results with Sharpie brand), cut it out, punch out any holes you may want, and pop it into an oven for a few minutes. Then it comes out all beautiful and small and hard - perfect for making custom jewelry.

*They're not paying me or anything, I'm providing the link as I found they provide somewhat reasonable postage to Ireland. It's hard to get awesome craft stuff sent here sometimes.

While I was at it, I made my friend Mo a phone charm - ssh, don't tell her!
This was really something of a bonanza evening - I'd had so much fun with the jewelry box I decided to try another decoupage idea which I've been thinking about for a while. Have you ever noticed how interesting the inside of some envelopes can be? Like the letters you get from the bank and other things? Yesh, me too. I've been hoarding them lately and, with the help of a friendly cereal box, made some gift tags.
I haven't punched holes in them yet. Apart from the hearts, the rest of them were just cut into random polygons. I may neaten some of them up before using them.
Some of the envelopes were much more interesting than the others - like below, for example. I couldn't believe anyone would put such fancy papers on the inside of the envelope! It was actually an envelope scavenged from my mum's house, so maybe there had been a particularly unpleasant bill inside. Oh well, that's it for now. Hope whoever (if anyone) is reading this has a lovely weekend (can you tell I'm in a good mood? I had a presentation at work today which I was dreading, but it went ok. Huzzah!)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The 11th hour

Tick tick's 11:40pm, but I'm within my self-imposed limits, huzzah! Super busy over the last week, every evening after work has been booked up, but luckily one of these was with a crafting evening at a lovely friends house. We were making flowers out of felt and gluing them onto hairbands. I made one hairband, but gave it to aforementioned lovely friend as she was fonder of it than I was. I do, however, retain a brooch I made. Nothing fancy, but I really like it.

Also on offer this week a leetle kitten made with this free pattern from (who offer a lot of free patterns actually - obviously, they recommend using their yarn, but that's their business, right?). Pretty simple, but it's for the soon to be niece or nephew of my best friend, so I actually kinda preferred the flat shape of it as opposed to the roundness of regular amigurumi - I think it'll make it a bit easier for a very small baby to grab onto.
The eyes look a bit strange because I wasn't confident that stitching on round eyes  (safety eyes used for most amigurumi are, despite the name, unsafe on toys for under 3s) would look great on the milk cotton I used to make the body. Even when crocheting I found the strands on this cotton can become easily separated, and it has no fluffiness to hide small gaps that stitching might create, like wool or acrylic might. So I thought I'd go with a kind of 'Squee!' expression. The nose is a little hard to see - the only pink I could find lying around was variegated, hence the 2 different colors. The arms, legs and tail are just cheap-o acrylic from a pound shop - the sex of the baby is as yet unknown, so it's a safe choice. I quite like this little guy - I hope mommy and baby do too.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

So. Goodness, I never know what to write on things like this, like those "About Me" sections you're supposed to fill out in profiles. About Me? Well, I am me, so there's a start. I'm currently doing a PhD in Organic Synthetic Chemistry. I also play tag rugby, a flat to keep clean, friends to see, beer to drink, computer games to play, food to cook, animals to care for, blogs to much, so much. All this takes time. And I've found that after a long day in the lab, it's much too easy to come home, and after I've cobbled together a dinner, vegetate in front of the laptop watching various sci-fi, or reading various blogs. Blogs about being creative. Rather than actually going and being creative. So that's why I decided to start a little blog. In this blog I hope to post one thing I've made (or if it's a bit bigger, am at least in the progress of making) every week. Maybe not on the same day every week, but I think what I'm planning that is say if I post on a Thursday of one week, I'm then on a 7 day countdown. So I have to post something by next Thursday, and if I post say, on the following Wednesday, the 7 day countdown starts again. So there, that's my plan. I really think this will help me get back into regular crafting, rather than putting stuff off for one minute....then ano9ther 5....and oh look, it's time for bed. I also think it will motivate me to finish projects, which I think all fellow craftsters will agree are all to easy to leave nearly finished.

I put off posting some of my crafts online for ages because I didn't think they were good enough. but then I had a realization - nobody has to read my blog. It's their choice. So I am free to prattle on as much as I like, and post my silly shrinky dink jewelery or unhemmed dresses, nobody has to read or comment. So yes, beware, my crafts are less than awesome. But you can stop reading now - I'll never know.

So what's here to get us started. Nothing major, nothing fancy, just some simple crocheted faceclothes. I've been making a lot of these lately, but these two in particular are for a swap I'm participating in over on Swap-Bot. They're made in Rowan Milk Cotton (70% cotton, 30% milk cotton), and it's pretty delicious and soft. It toughens up a little bit after a couple of washes (the label does say 30 deg C, and I did 40 deg C), but that works for me, as face clothes should be a bit abrasive.
The completed one is done in crochet rib, for texture. The work in progress is just plain single crochet, as I want to get it finished and in the post quickly. This is also why I'm not going to block them before sending  - but this will give the recipient a chance to enjoy the full softness of the yarn before it toughens at all.