The Crafting Corner


Stamp Embossed Leather

posted Apr 30, 2016, 10:14 PM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Apr 30, 2016, 10:20 PM ]

This is yet another one of those ideas that come in the middle of the night.  I had made some simple triangular leather and eyelet earrings during a leather workshop last week, but they lacked... something.  And as I was trying to go to sleep, my ever energetic brain ws ondering the possibility of using stamp embossing to add a texture/colour to the earrings.  

So the next morning I got up and tried it, and it worked.  Yay!  

And I liked it so much that I did another project - with photos!  So that I can now type out this handy tutorial with pictures.  

So materials you will need to make a leather cuff: 
(this picture also shows a bit of our chaotic dining room table, which has to be cleared in order to make way for, you know, food and eating... yeah)

strip of leather cut to the size you need (around your wrist plus 2cm for snap fastening)
stamp of your choice
slow drying ink for stamp
embossing powder
piece of plain paper, folded in half, creased, and opened (this is to catch the embossing powder and put it back in it's jar!)
small paint brush
heat gun, or toaster in a pinch
protective surface (a baking tray should suffice)
oven mitts
snap fasteners (I used the Birch Decorative Snap Fasteners)
rubber mallet (you can use a hammer if need be)
protective mat or surface for hitting in fasteners

If you have never used stamp embossing before here's a little bit about it:
Embossing powder is a super fine powder that melts when heated into a metallic solid.  It is commonly used to decorate cards or other paper crafts, and is generally applied over a stamped ink.  The ink is specified as slow drying so that there is time to adhere the powder to the stamped surface.  Both embossing powders and slow drying inks are generally available from craft stores or specialist stamping stores.

So onto the cuff...
Set out the folded paper and place the leather strip on top, skin side up.  set out your ink pad, embossing powder and stamp.  You have to move fairly quickly so I find it easier to have the lid off the embossing powder ready to pour it over the stamped ink. 

Thoroughly ink your stamp and press it evenly onto the leather.  I apologise for the lack of photos at this point but as I say, moving quickly and all...  Then remove the stamp, place it aside and pour out embossing powder over the stamped area.

It is completely okay that it now looks like you have just dump trucked the powder all over the stamped area!  You are now going to gently pour it off onto the paper (see that paper, very important to save all that embossing powder for next time...)



Gently lift up the leather strip and tip off the excess powder onto the paper.  No mater how many times I do this, I am always a little bit scared that the powder is not going to adhere.  But is does, so it's fine.  



You will also probably find that there are a few grains that adhere around the project.  You can gently tap it to remove most of these, and I also find that having a small paint brush to gently remove these bits helps as well.

Once you have removed the unwanted grains of powder, carefully set the strip aside.  Now gently pick up the paper, form it into a V and pour the embossing powder back into it's container.  Ready for next time.  

I love this stuff!  You can stamp and apply it to quite a lot of things - I have labelled my pin board with days of the week (so I don't forget what we are doing!).  It makes really cool cards and gift tags.  I am currently sitting here wondering if I soulc in some way apply it to future crochet projects...  I will let you know how that turns out...

Anyway, onward...


You will now need your heat source.  Due to my love of embossing I have a heat gun.  There are specialist embossing heat guns you can buy from craft shops.  I bought mine from the hardware store - that way if we ever have to remove wallpaper we can do that too.  Hasn't happened yet, but you never know...
If you do not have a heat gun (and don't wish to purchase one, even for theoretical DIY projects) you can also gingerly hold your project over a toaster.  I have done this with cards in the past,and it works fine.  You just have to keep moving the project to get evenly applied heat.  

So, gently apply the heat over the embossing powder.  I find that the heat gun tend to blow the leather strip so I put on a trusty oven glove to hold onto the strip and prevent burnination of my fingers.

Also it is a good idea to put a protective surface down under the leather strip.  I have a fire brick here (because we have stuff like this) but a baking tray will be perfectly acceptable to protect your table, bench, or other impromptu work space.





Once you have applied heat for a little bit, the powder should start to melt and look like this:

Keep applying heat until all the powder has melted and is metallic looking.  Ooooooo -SHINY!

This is the end of the embossing stage of the project.  Stand back and admire your work so far, and then prepare to hit things with a mallet...






So we are now going to apply the snap fastener to the leather strip, turning it from a strip into a cuff in one frustration relieving stage.

The fasteners come in 4 parts - there is a pronged decorative stud top, the receiver, a pronged base, and the bobbled bit that presses into the receiver.  For a more technical description of these parts, please refer to the packaging they come in.  

There will also be a pressing tool that is used to seat the studs.  It pays to use a rubber mallet as a hammer distorts the end of the pressing tool, but a hammer can be used if necessary.  

Set yourself up with your stud pieces, mallet, and protective mat/surface.  I find it easiest to set the decorative top and receiver first, then the  stud end, but you might well work differently to me.  The idea of these is to push the prongs through the leather.  You can use the narrow end of the setting tool to compress the leather into the stud.  It takes a bit of work but once the prongs are through you are ready to attach the receiver.  This is done by placing it over the prongs, putting the setting tool on top, and then hitting the setting tool with your mallet - I find 20 or so times to be adequate and therapeutic.

Once you have set the receiver it is the same process for the stud end.  Do double check that you are setting it the correct way up (trust me on this, it is an annoying and almost unreversable mistake).  If it does happen you have just made yourself a very fancy mobius band to demonstrate this fascinating mathematical concept.

There are better and more detailed descriptions of the setting process on the packaging of the studs.

Once you have attached the snap fastener you have completed your cuff.  Now go put away your crafting bits and pieces so your dining table doesn't end up like mine!



Wear and enjoy :-)










Berry Summer Fun

posted Jan 26, 2016, 12:22 AM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Jan 26, 2016, 12:28 AM ]

Its summer again, and for our girls that means berries, berries, berries.  So inspired by that, here are a few (mostly) strawberry themed foods and crafts for your summer enjoyment.

Crochet Berries

These little cuties were made from a strawberry pattern in the fun book "Tasty Crochet" by Rose Langlitz 

However, I have a new found love of changing the scale of crochet projects by messing with the wool ply and scale.  So to get these lovelies to be more berry sized I used a 4 ply cotton/acrylic blend and a 2.5mm hook.  I find that the 50% cotton/50% acrylic blend wears really well for kids toys, and these have been well and truly tested in my daughters toy kitchen.



Strawberry Ice Blocks

Yes, that is a sideways shot that I haven't bothered to fix.  It's late, and I am wanting to get back to looking through books for new sewing projects.  But that aside, this is so simple, and is the equivalent of last summers yummy watermelon granita (see "Watermelon!" post).

So what do you need?
Strawberries
2 Oranges
Iceblock Moulds
Blender

Our Iceblock Moulds are 50 ml each, and we have 6 so I was needing to make 300 ml liquid for this.  You may have to calculate accordingly but it's a pretty forgiving mix.

Juice the 2 oranges and put into blender.  Hull the strawberries and put into blender until they are about 400 ml capacity (liquifying them will reduce the quantity slightly).  Blend!  Once you have the liquid pour it into the moulds and place into freezer.


Once frozen, eat and enjoy!

Here is sideways Miss 2 and Miss 5 enjoying theirs while sitting outside to avoid red drippy liquid on the carpet!

I didn't strain the liquid so it had a slight texture to it, but the girls and I didn't mind.  You could strain yours if you wanted to but you would probably need to start with more strawberries and maybe another orange to get enough liquid.  

It's not a fussy recipe, so experiment and enjoy.

Almost Instant Berry Ice Cream

This was one of those 'I can't believe that actually worked' moments.  It's fun, easy, and delicious.  And has a bit of a back story...

Our girls love frozen berries, and it's been so hot they have been asking for them every morning with their Weet-bix.  I noticed that when you poured the milk over it froze around the berries...  Then one evening, while wanting a nice cooling snack in the unbearable, muggy heat, I poured some cream over some frozen blue berries, and it made a nice kind of frozen, creamy, purple mush.  This got me to thinking... 'I wonder if you can blend frozen berries with cream and make a kind of instant ice cream?'

And guess what?  YOU CAN!

So... how do you do it?
We used a ratio of 4 parts berry to 1 part cream (for 4 people we used 2 cups of berries and 1/2 cup of cream).  

Initially I tried this in our little food blender, but it did that thing where the bottom bit blends and the top bit doesn't.  So in the end I just popped the lot into a metal bowl, and mushed it together with a fork.

Now, this is not smooth, sweet, ice cream.  But it is lovely, tart, textured, and creamy.  I don't have an overly sweet tooth and I loved the tartness of the berries.  And the girls really liked it too.  They wolfed down 2 cones each!

We made raspberry and boysenberry ice cream, and I would recommend the smaller berries for this.  The surface area for cream to freeze on seems to be the important factor.  And the longer you mix it, the smoother it gets.  I'm pretty sure if you had a bigger food processor than us you could blitz it in there to get super creamy if you wanted.

We also had a bit left over that we popped back into the freezer.  And boy does it freeze!  It was solid... but after a little resting out of freezer time it was still lovely.


Strawberries and Camembert Cheese

This is one of those ideas that was passed on from a friend, to my Dad, to me.  And it sounds strange but is absolutely delicious. 

Camembert Wedges in Strawberries.  It's a simple as that - slice nearly in half a ripe, red, strawberry.  Cut a slim wedge of creamy Camembert and insert into strawberry.  Eat.

Mmmmmmmm - and it's very nice with a blue Brie too!

Just one word of warning - it's not something you can prepare too far ahead of time as the enzymes in the strawberry do start to dissolve the cheese.  But it's a great, speedy addition to a summer cheese board, or fruit platter.  Or a cheesy fruit platter if you will...

And I just love the pineapple board - another treasure from our local Op Shop.  Gotta love an added bit of tropical fun!






The Giant Felt Board

posted Oct 6, 2015, 12:05 AM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Oct 6, 2015, 12:10 AM ]

This has been a bit of an ongoing project at our place.  And it started out rather randomly with me picking up a large old picture frame from our local inorganic rubbish collection about 3 years ago...

You know, one of those moments when you are walking home, spy something that 'might be useful one day' and then have to figure out how to get the cumbersome item home atop a buggy already loaded down with books, groceries, and oh yeah, a toddler!  But get it home we did, where it sat in our garage while I wondered what to do with it and went through several project ideas in my head...

See I'm one of those people who loves looking at options, but hates actually making the decision.  I think because once that decision is made you actually have to let go of the other options.  But eventually I settled on "wouldn't it be cool to have a giant fuzzy felt board?"  And it grew from there.

So what did we do (and what would you need to make one yourself?)

Large empty frame (optional - you could just make a board, but frames are fairly plentiful at op shops)
Large piece of felt, big enough to fit in your frame
Foam core board, big enough to fit your frame (if your frame comes with a wooden insert you can skip this part)
Staple gun & staples
Duct tape
Assorted felt pieces
Fabric scissors
Large ruler
Pencil
Craft knife

Turn the frame over and measure the inside of the frame to cut your foam board to size.  Lay your foam board  (or your wooden insert) onto your large piece of felt.  Wrap the board like you would cover a book - trim the corners in and fold over.  Tape down the felt as neatly as possible and ensure that the felt is wrapped securely around the board.  

Push the felt covered board into the back of the frame.  I then stapled ours in place but whether you can do this depends on the depth of your frame.  Check your staple height first as you don't want sharp staples where little fingers are playing!  If you can't staple it in place, use the duct tape to secure the board to the frame.  We also completely covered the back of ours in strips of black duct tape to tidy up the back and give it an even finish.


Then cut out some felt shapes and commence playing! 


The top photo was basically a free for all with all the scrap bits of felt.  It kind of felt like some kind of modern art project in the end.  We have found that cookie cutters make great templates for little fingers to cut out and tend to come in pleasing shapes.  If you have a stamp pad you can use this to print the outline onto the felt before cutting!  I tend to use the wider non-cutting side of the cutter for this.

I am also working on some continents of the world, that we can use for geography (man those islands are fiddly)!  This is also why our background is blue, so that it can easily be water or sky...

And today we made ice creams, with cherries and chocolate sauce (YUM)!  I found a template here: www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/paper-ice-cream-cone-project

This has been fun and we made two sets.  I'm planning on sewing some beads onto some scoops as sprinkles.  And as all projects always go it gets more elaborate all the time...

There are heaps of cool templates out there on the big wide inter-web, from the instructional (organs and bones of the body, continents, countries, life cycles etc) to the fun and frivolous (ice creams, princesses, fairies, build your own robots, cars, houses etc).  But never forget that there is learning in the frivolous too!

The thing I particularly like about this project is that it has been ongoing, and will continue to be so for many years to come I hope.  As the girls grow older they can make their own felt worlds by cutting and sewing themselves.  It is being used to teach geography, maths, and science in an interactive way.  And it's pretty easy to set up and pack down, it's not particularly messy, noisy, or intrusive.  It's large enough for 2-3 kids to use at once.  

And this board will eventually be mounted on the wall in their room to do double duty as a play area and art work.  

I am also seriously considering re-mounting the felt onto a piece of metal so that it become a MAGNETIC FELT BOARD!!  Oh the possibilities!

Yep, even when I lock down an idea, it continues to grow and expand...


Watermelon!

posted Apr 2, 2015, 1:57 PM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Jan 25, 2016, 11:43 PM ]

Late for the Southern Summer but some inspiration for next year maybe, we have a watermelon themed post with a recipe, a small crochet motif, and general fun.  

Watermelon Granita

This couldn't have been easier, and came about due to my oldest daughter's dislike of eating watermelon. Sometimes it's the form and not the flavour that kids object to, so in an attempt to change the form I did this:

Chop up watermelon flesh (pips and all) and liquify in batches with a stick blender.  Strain into a jug to remove unwanted bits.

For the granita, pour into an old tray (or disposable tray - you have to scratch it with a fork later) and pop into the freezer until, um, frozen.

To serve, scrape up delicious, coral coloured ice and serve.  And like all great kids treats, a paper umbrella just made it more fun!

You can also put the liquid into ice block molds and have lovely watermelon ice blocks.  This is what we did with our second melon as 1 melon does make quite a lot of granita!

Happy Summer Fun!

Watermelon Motif

I was very inspired by the tropical fruit trend last summer and got busy with these little watermelon slices, which I have turned into earrings and mini bunting (mini bunting seems to have been an obsession of mine last year).

So here's the quick little crochet pattern:

I used Paton Cotton Blend in #24 Fresh Green and #26 Coral and a 4.25mm hook

With coral wool, chain 4
6 double crochet (UK triple) into 4th chain from hook, turn
Chain 3, 1 double into same stitch, 2 double into each of the next 5 stitches, 2 double into chain 3 of previous row, joining the green with the last stitch.
Alternatively you could fasten off the coral and join the green directly to the next row.
Turn
You should now be working the green - for a tighter curve, 1 single crochet all the way around (the earrings use this pattern), for a looser curve alternate 1 single and 2 single in each stitch (see the mini bunting)

More Happy Summer Fun! The mini bunting number cheers up or pantry year round.

A couple of other projects with the same melon theme:

Hama Bead Watermelon Slice

My daughter has taken to Hama Beads with extreme enthusiasm this week and produced this lovely little slice of summer.  These can be turned into dinky little key rings, fridge magnets, coasters or even jewellery.  I tend to do the fixings for her, and she also made me a pair of Licorice All Sorts earrings that I have been wearing around too.

Watermelon Softie

This one I free formed and did not write down the pattern.  But it was basically a circle that I folded in half, and crocheted closed with a crescent shape.  It was a Christmas present for my one year old and brightens up her reading corner.

I do remember that I used a double thickness of DK cotton/acrylic blend (I find that the cotton/acrylic blend wears well for toys).  And the pips are buttons that are very, VERY, well sewn on.  

And I nearly forgot (well I did forget, but came back and edited...)

Watermelon Mini Crochet Amish Puzzle Ball 


Thanks to Dedri Uys for posting this lovely pattern.  I was intrigued by a book I had got out from the library of Crochet Puzzle Balls and found this mini one which I thought would be a great start.

Now I am a moderately experienced crocheter (I think) and I had a little bit of a swear while making the first complete section!  But the next section was easier, and by the time I was onto the third section I was convinced that I would make many more of these as gifts, and possibly to sell on www.acraftyidea.org (a very exciting initiative starting soon...)

So I simply made mine in watermelon colours, and sewed little pips on after I had completed each section.  Miss 1 seems very happy with it.  That's her trying to steal it off the table while I quickly take photos!


So I hope that brings a little freshness to your day, and inspires you to get a little fruity too!


Air Dry Clay Bunting

posted Jan 26, 2015, 11:20 PM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Jan 26, 2015, 11:28 PM ]

Hmmmm, seem to be going through a bunting phase...  I know its a bit behind "the times" (whatever times those are) but I think it's to do with moving house and settling in and trying to "friendly" up some spaces.  Plus its an easy thing to do to add a bit of character, but I digress...
Basically this was a mash up of those pressed air dry clay ornaments you see on Pinterest, and crochet.  That's it.

Spot of outdoor crochet this month while kids where in the sandpit.  Hence the grass and somewhat blown out lighting...

So tools and supplies for this were:
air dry clay
stamps/fabric/anything textured that you would like to use
rolling pin (not your good baking one)
flat surface for rolling onto (I use an old pastry mat)
cookie cutters
a straw
small beads (optional)
fine grade sandpaper
an old towel (optional - but really useful)
crochet hook (I used a 2.75mm but use what suits your cotton/style)
DMC crochet cotton in white


So firstly, make sure your flat surface is clean and then roll out the clay to the desired thickness.  I would recommend about 5mm. Use the texturing item on the clay.  I used various things - the first was a piece of textured lace which I rolled over with a rolling pin, then some small metal dragonflies that I placed on then rolled over, stamps with a bronze coloured ink, and them small beads which I rolled into the clay (this made it a bit tricky to cut later and was not so easy to work with...)

   

Once you have textured the clay, use the cookie cutter to cut out your shapes and use the straw to cut out the holes.  I find that drinking straws tend to make pretty good sized hole for decorations of this sort.  Cut down they are also really easy for kids to use, and they don't tend to do that annoying pressed through lip thing with the clay.

Now the easy bit - place the cut decorations in a safe, flat, and dry place for, er, drying.  

Once they are dry you may commence with the sanding.  This just helps to tidy up the rough edges and gives a much nicer look to the finish.  And this is also the reason I recommended an old towel - this stuff gives off a lot of dust so have that handy.  I tend to put one on my work surface and have a smaller towel for wiping the decorations also.

Once that's done you should have a whole bunch of lovely looking decorations.  You could just put them onto ribbon at this stage (individually, or a long piece as per the bunting theme)or use them as lovely tags on presents etc.  In fact I was considering making up a stash just to keep in the cupboard just for that... Yes, I do that kind of thing, and yes my kids let me do that kind of thing, provided they also get their own clay to play with and make stuff.  It's just creativity all round some days.  And I will live with a little mess if it means I get to make some too - it's how I stay creative.


Anywho...

If your're wanting to do the full mash up grab your crochet hook in appropriate size and your cotton (thin ribbon, wool, whatever - I'm not living in your house so do what suits you).  And we are going to do a basic chain stitch, plus heart (or whatever shape you used - again, your bunting, your house) plus chain, plus heart etc.  I crocheted 30 stitches between each heart.

 
So when it comes to crocheting the heart onto the chain I lengthened the current chain stitch right out, then took it off the hook.  The put the hook through (front to back) the heart and picked up the stitch, pulling it through the hole.  Then I shortened the stitch again (so that it would just reach over the top of the heart) and crocheted a chain stitch over the heart.  And then carried on with the chain.






And that's it - a nice little project that you can stretch out over a few days, or pick up and put down as needed.






 

Neon Straws Bunting

posted Dec 8, 2014, 11:33 PM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Dec 8, 2014, 11:34 PM ]

So first up - this is completely inspired by the "DIY Straw Building Set" in the excellent book: "101 kids activities that are the bestest, funnest ever!" (by Holly Homer & Rachel Miller of kidsactivitiesblog.com).  I got the book out of the library because it had a really fun title, and it was so fun inside the book that I bought it!  There will probably be a few more posts inspired by this book, but I digress...

In the book there are these really fun geometric building shapes that you can make with straws and tape.  Cheap, easy, and heaps of fun.  Provided you don't get carried away and then get into an argument with a 4 y/o about how to build some complex structure.  It does happen - I am a bit embarrassed to say - because we are quite similar in out grandiose plans/stubborn ways.

So I modified the process slightly by using PVA glue instead of tape to get a cleaner finish (cleaner in the finished product sense, NOT the process sense).  Commence photos:
 
Materials: plastic bendy straws, PVA glue


The basic idea is that you are inserting the short end of the straw into the longer end of another straw, to create triangles.  I found it easier to insert the straws into each other by folding the end slightly, as in the second photo.  I then dipped the end into the glue and inserted it into the next straw.  

Try it - it's suprisingly addictive!



Anyway, instead of using individual triangles to make fun shapes (we had previously done quite a lot of this.  But I have no photos of the shapes we made before they were 'played with' by Miss 1!) I made them into a triangle chain:

This built up and up into a relatively stable but messy pile on the couch beside me!  

PVA does take time to dry, but the straws fit pretty snug so it was relatively stable and not too difficult to move.  Plus it has the advantage of being very light.  I ended up using one and a half packets of straws, which looked like a lot.  But I have discovered that bunting is always deceptively shorter than you think...







So when I actually put it up it ended up running down only half our fence.

So tip of the month: always, ALWAYS, have more bunting than you think you will need!

But also nobody cares when they are eating yummy food, and there is a giant block wall and pavement chalk at hand!

Painting Clothes

posted Sep 17, 2014, 1:27 AM by Amie Ridley

It all started when Miss K began wearing Miss S's old painting pants.  A few people commented on how interesting they were, and it got me thinking about how you could probably paint onto some basic cotton clothes with acrylic paint.  These pants had been worn and washed many, many times and had a kind of fun, faded look to them while the paint never washed out.  Also geometric shapes seem pretty big at the moment so I was keen to try stamping with shapes.  Thus began the painting of baby clothes with the Shape-O.

 The set up: acrylic paints, plain white t-shirts, posting toy shapes, trays/old lids for spreading paint on, paper towels, and drop cloth to protect the table and floor.  Yes that is my daughter playing on a tablet in the background.  Despite all the craftiness, reading and other general ideas that I am fond of we still allow tablet time.  She's probably playing some Minecraft.

So we spread some paint onto the tray.  If you are wanting a certain "look" with kids art, I recommend limiting the colour selection.  A few well chosen colours can help a project to have an on trend look.

We put paper towels between the layers of shirt to protect the back from the paint.  Then dipped the shapes into the paint and stamped the T-shirts with shapes.  
The shirts where then set out to dry completely, before running through a short hot wash and then hot dry cycle.  And that's it!  Too easy really.  


Some more photos...



And of course "action shot" of Miss K wearing my favourite shirt.  

There was a bit of bleeding into the area with Miss S's prints (upper right photo - with all the shapes.)  She had a lot more paint on the shapes than I did, so I would recommend spreading the paint around more so that the shapes pick up less paint.  But I think it still looks pretty funky.



Tips:
- a stash of old sheets (picked up from Op Shops) makes it easy to set up and pack down, and protect your floors and furniture.  We also keep some tarpaulins in the garage, but more about that on messier projects... 
- old formula lids, take away lids or similar make great paint palates and if you are really not wanting a lot of pack up, can be put into the recycle bin.
- we also tried stamping onto pale coloured shirts and black tights, but the white was definitely the most effective for this project.
- the paint can lightly stain the plastic, but I figure this gives our toys a well used look which represents their real life anyway.


And as it's all about the learning these days, a bit of encouragement to get into crafty messy projects:

What are we learning:
- colours & shapes: obvious this I know, but important as well. And some of the shapes in this are more complex (pentagon, trapezoid, cross).
- fine motor skills: It requires some steadiness to dip then print, particularly in an ordered pattern.
- planning & sequencing: Miss S (4 y/o) talked about her plan to print the same shape in three different colours in each row as she was printing it. 

And she also learnt that sometimes you have to choose to do the craft project now, while Miss K is napping.  So she had to choose to put the tablet away and do the project now as she would not get the chance later, once Miss K woke up.  Which introduces her very gently to the concept of time management as well.  Because I am a bit random and chaotic, but not so much as to attempt this with a curious 1 y/o in the room! 

Happy Printing

1-7 of 7