Digitize Your Handwriting

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While this service has been around online for years and years, I’m always amazed by how many people that have never heard of it. So I wanted to share with all you aspiring creative types the super simple, easy and free way to turn your own handwriting into a digital font for your computer. 😀

There are currently 2 sites that I would recommend to do this with, depending on what resources you have on hand and how much time you want to commit. The first is My Script Font. Its process is simple. You print out a guide paper with several boxes on it. In those boxes you write the corresponding letter/symbol it lists. Then you put it into a scanner to turn the paper back to a digital file and load it to their site. You can also name and pick the font file type (TTF if default as it is more universal) when you do, and that’s it! You’ll immediately get a font in your own handwriting to enjoy and use.

Now this company does have a new version of this service, which is the second one I’d recommend for the more serious user called Calligraphr. You use a program instead or printing anything (though you can print it if you prefer) and can tweak your handwriting font to perfection, giving it negative spaces on letter like P and T, or even allowing randomized variances in letters to make it look more like handwriting. Using it for free lets you still make as many fonts as you want, but you can only tweak 1 at a time and have a limit on unique characters; which aren’t used that often really. There is a paid version for $7 a month that gives some extra bonuses, but is really only for those who need their font to do a lot more then the casual user.

What can you do with this awesome new font? Well, anything that involves writing really. Want to have truly unique labels or signage for your products? Use your own handwriting. Add a personal touch to your FAQ page on your website. Replace the font in your comic with your own hand and not have to do any line art clean up for it! You could even use this tool to make custom notebooks or memo pads for yourself/customers. The only limiter is your own imagination really.


DIY Vinyl Art for Bags & Purses

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I’m not a big purse person, never have been, and I don’t care to have decorated ones as a result. The idea of customizing one though? Sign me up!

This idea comes from the folks at StudioDIY, and is all about making a custom donut image for your round purse, but if they’re not your thing, I don’t see why you can’t apply these methods there to any purse/bag you like! You’ll want to visit the DIY page to make sure you understand the process to tweak it to your needs, but here’s the quick run down of supplies required for this project.

It involves lots of spray adhesive to get everything together, so you’ll want to make sure you’re in a well ventilated space or outdoors so fumes don’t become over powering. I’m not sure if this would work on fabric, but I think it would since it’s mostly the adhesive keeping things in place. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a blank to tote to customize.


Retro Video Game Shadow Boxes

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My husband and I have started a collection of the games we grew up on (NES and SNES mostly), but this person blows our simple little plastic cases out of the water.

Designed and made by Glitch Artwork, these shadow boxes give a bit of art and style to your gaming collection. They layouts are well thought out and visually appealing; so much so that the gaming cart isn’t the first thing to grab you. Quite a feat when it takes up about 1/4 of the space.

If you’ve got your own collection, or maybe a few favorite games you’d like to keep, I’d recommend giving their shop a look. The frames range from $35-75 and are definitely a way to class up your home, while still showing your gaming love. 🙂


DIY Pallet Swing Chair

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I saw this, Saturday readers, and I thought I needed to share it with you.

This is super cool and the materials are super cheap. The full tutorial can be found here, on Instructables. You just need a few tools and a ploace to hang it and you’re all set to relax. You’ll need some tools: A drill, mask and gloves, a saw and a lighter. You will need some materials: Paracord (you should be able to find this at any hardware store), a pallet (you may be able to do it with one, but it depends on the usable wood) and possibly some sandpaper and wood sealant.

Pallet wood is hardwood and can be found if not for free, for very cheap. Pallets are what shipments are brought into stores on. This is treated wood, so you will need to wear a mask and gloves at all times, and when you are finished cutting and drilling, it’s very important that you seal your wood. You can use other ropes, but this tutorial recommends paracord because it’s small, strong and doesn’t tend to stretch. You can also keep it from unravelling or fraying by using fire to melt the ends of the cords.

Your first step is to take apart your pallet. The trick is to get the wood apart without breaking it (prying it can cause a lot of breakage but can be done). A sawzall (pictured above) can be used to cut the pieces apart through the nails. You can pop the rest of the nail out of the wood after you’re done.

Before you cut your wood, you’ll need to decide how wide to cut your wood for your chair. This tutorial was done with 20 inch long boards, but you can opt for bigger or smaller. Bigger would allow for more sizes of bottoms to fit in it. But it’s up to you. 16 boards at 20 inches long were used for this particular project. Make sure if you’re swing yourself that you keep your eyes open for any nails you didn’t get out of the wood. If you don’t have a table saw, and don’t want to do it manually ( and I wouldn’t blame you) go talk to a local hardware store and you can see if they have a service of having someone use their tools for your needs.

Next you will need to mark the holes for your cord to go through. This tutorial put laces 1/2″ from the edge of the board and then 2″ apart. You can choose whatever dimensions suit your project and your tastes so long as the holes are far enough in from the edge of the board  so that it does not break once it has weight on it. Also, be aware that boards with laces that are spaced further apart will tend to pull away from each other more, which can create a gap that can pinch fingers, legs, and cheeks.


With everything marked, it’s time to drill. You can use a regular or table drill and just be sure to drill holes just slightly bigger than your cord. And as always… safety first! So be sure to be taking proper precautions for whichever method you choose.

Please check out the instructable for more photos.

Now it is time to lace, like you would shoes, with your paracord. You can melt the ends with the lighter to make it easier.

When you reach the end, cut the paracord, making sure you leave enough slack to tie a strong knot at the end. You should be using one piece to tie two slats together, and you can measure your first piece to use as a template for the rest. I would make them a little longer so you have a little room for error, in case you need it. Make sure you are aware of which side of the board is up and which is down so that you can end up with all of the nice looking wood facing up, and it looks better to have all the knots sticking out the bottom. When you finish a lace, go back and pull the cords tight at each “X” so that there’s no slack.

Now all you have to do is hang the chair from whatever structure you have available.
I used some 2×4’s between the trees in the back yard (not the prettiest but it works). Just drill a couple of holes in each of the four corners you would like to hang the chair from and thread the paracord through them, though I would drill a hole in the second last slat where your legs would hang so that it will be more comfortable. You can even adjust the lounge factor – hanging these further apart will let you lay back, and closer together will be more upright. Two strands of paracords were used for this one, but for extra strength, you can braid together more.

Once you get the idea you can stain it, use different cord colours, build a structure... really whatever you like

Once you get the idea you can stain it, use different cord colours, build a structure… really whatever you like

Hope you enjoyed this little DIY. I thought it was so simple, and so cool. You need a little know how with tools, but I find that even if I don’t have it, someone I know does. Which works for me.

Happy crafting!

 


Giving Zen

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Hi there Thursday readers,

During the holiday rush of trying to find the perfect gift or just trying to get a little shopping done without being stampeded by crowds while trying to replace your worn out winter boots, everyone can use a little extra zen. So here’s a couple lovely, and easy gifts that you can make either for your home or to give as a gift to someone special who needs a little extra relaxation. This is from Gardenista (you can find the full DIY here)

To make this fabulous and innovative take on the mindful garden, you will need a Calocehalus or Silver Plant , a European or “false” cypress or Port Orford Cedar, and Club Moss. You should be able to find these at garden stores. You can use other plants, succulents or air plants if you won’t be able to water them. It’s all about how much upkeep you’re going to want to do, and this example is just a template.

You will also need a shallow vessel like a pie plate or something similar in depth but a different shape. Take a look at kitchen stores and I’m sure that you can find a serving vessel that would work in interesting shapes.  You will need some beach stones (you can collect them or you can buy them – sometimes in specific colours at pet/dollar/garden stores), and you will also require some potting soil.

Next you will need to create a base. Place the potting soil in the area that you’d like to have the plants, and rocks in the remainder.

A couple things to note, if you’re planting a mini cypress tree, it will need upkeep like a bonzai tree and so it will need to be trimmed and taken care of. It will also need to be anchored in place by another plant (the moss is used here). Also remember that this is a zen garden that requires a little sunlight for these plants, so make sure there’s a little light available to help them out.

You can add a second layer of rocks of different shapes, if you have them. Instead of raking sand in this garden, you will be moving the stones and changing the scene in this way.

 

You can choose whatever other accents you might like to add, like branches or flowers (fake if you prefer not to change them out) and play around with the rocks to find pleasing ways to arrange them. And you’re done!

If you would prefer to make a simpler Zen garden, here is a tutorial for a sand garden where you can use succulents or air plants or even fake plants to achieve your goal, and you can find the tutorial from Dwell Beautiful here.

Happy crafting!

~ Megan


Illuminated Illustrations

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Created by Etsy artist Trysogodar, these Paper Cut Light Boxes are beautiful scenes cut straight from fantasy worlds and stories. The way they’ve layered their paper (not to mention the expert precision cutting of the designs) is nothing short of beautiful.

To quote the artist,”The paper cut light box are made using layers of hand-cut 160g art paper which are placed in shadow boxes and illuminated by LED light strips.

At first glance, the light box appear like any other paper cut work. When the lights go out, however, the light box suddenly take on a magical quality; The LED strips make the backgrounds glow and cast rich shadows, revealing tiny worlds within the boxes.”

These would make excellent replacements for nursery nightlights, imho, and I may even look into them just for that reason in the future. They are very reasonably priced as well, but they do ship from the UK, so maybe not the best idea for this holiday season. 😉

 


Crochet Block Stitch Tutorial

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It’s getting chilly in the Northern Hemisphere so it’s time to bust out your yarn and start making cool winter clothes. 😀 If a sweater or a scarf is on your to do list, I’ve got a really neat looking stitch to showcase today from the people at Dream A Little Bigger.

Once you get it set up, this stitch is super simple to do, and gives a nice visual texture to your piece; almost making it look like it’s two layers. Even if you’re not making anything this Holiday season, it’s still a fun and different stitch to learn by working up a practice square on. 🙂 The full tutorial can be found here at Dream A Little Bigger, and I’d be surprised if even a beginner crocheter couldn’t get in down in just an hour.

 


Knowing Your Resources – Scaling Images

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Yesterday I talked about programs you can used to do free digital work to your creations. Today I’m continuing the digital side of crafting and taking it a step further to provide a new program and an example of how it can be used to effect your crafts/art. Say you’ve got a great design for a T-shirt you want to make. You’re in love with it and it looks perfect. You go to print it out and start your screen printing process and…crap. You made your design way too small.

What do you do? You spent hours on this design and now when you go to make it bigger it’s likely not going to look as good and isn’t suitable to print. Well, I have your answer. You go take a visit to waifu2x. Not a great name, I know, but here is an example from their site of the change in quality their program provides (you’ll have to click for the larger image to see everything better)

You simply chose the image you want from your files and select the level of customization for upscaling it that you need. While it’s likely not going to be perfect if your image is fully colored and fleshed out, it will expertly upscale and clean just about any image you give it better than most free image editing software. I wouldn’t use it all the time (you should always try and work in high resolution images whenever you make a digital design), but it’s great for those moments when you forgot or were in a rush and have a time crunch to get something finished by. 🙂


Be Inspired!

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Hello Thursday Crafthackers!

I have realized that I have something special happening tomorrow and I thought I would share it with you and maybe spark some thought about your own crafting/small business. This is sort of a post about an artist I admire, but it’s also a post about finding your muse. As many of you know, I run my own business making corsets and I have been doing it seriously for about a year and a half now. I didn’t start from absolutely nothing and no idea, however. The skills I learned took time to hone and I’m still constantly learning new things, but what brought it all on was a passion for corsets – I have always found them beautiful.

Courtesy of Fajo Magazine

Courtesy of Fajo Magazine

This meant I would investigate what was available and who was making them. I found many that I enjoyed but the one that I became enamoured with was Dianna DiNoble, the owner of Starkers Corsets which is also found here on Facebook and here on Twitter. She is a little different from my own work in that I work a lot with off the rack and conventions where she has been doing custom and couture corsetry for over a decade. She very quickly became my muse – she created many amazing corsets and her work is just sublime. So how does this tie into something exciting happening this weekend? Well, I just found out she will be speaking at a convention happening in my city – and I have the chance to go listen to her speak.

Courtesy of Starkers.com

Courtesy of Starkers.com

I realized how excited I was the more I thought about it and even though I’m pretty darn good at what I do, she has been doing it for so many more years, and I have the opportunity to learn and possibly even ask some questions to this expert in an industry that really doesn’t have a lot of experts to offer in the same way that classically educated fields do. So I’ve booked my ticket and I’m all set to go!

What this made me think about in relation to other crafters and small businesses is this: I think it’s hugely important to have inspiration for the type of product/craft/business that you want to build for yourself. Thinking about it, I have a few of those that all represent different aspects of my business. Creatively? Dianne DiNoble is my inspiration. She has crafted a business that has grown and become incredibly well known both for design and craftmanship. Is she the same muse as for my business end goal? No, she isn’t. My goal isn’t to become a haute couture designer. So I have another business that exemplifies my end goal. Is this business the same as the one that I would like to personally strive to be? No, that is another.

Courtesy of Impact Instruction

I guess what my point is is that you need to look beyond the corporate businesses that are out there, and look past the mass production to find the things and the people that inspire you and try your best to learn as much as you can from them. Whether it be to find inspiration for designs, to build a business model, to set goals for personal growth. Whether you’re crafting to make money or you’re crafting for your own gratification,  you need inspiration and a drive to make you continue. Find those people who are doing the things you want to do and making the things that make you go “Wow!” and let them help you to find passion in what you’re doing.

Courtesy of Adventure In You

This blog features many amazing artists and people who are doing amazing things with their lives. None of it is easy, and so when you are not finding yourself inspired by what is in front of you, or inspired by the things you’re doing daily, return to the people and the artists who made you excited about it in the first place. Keep your passion for making alive and thriving, because more than ever we need to protect and nurture our artists. Whether they be young or old, casual or business, kitchen table or studio crafts, we can’t afford to lose the people and things that inspire us to flex our creative muscles.

Like I will be, this Friday, find something that makes you go “SQUEEEEEEEEEE” and remember that this is why you’re trying to craft your passion into art.

Keep crafting, Crafthackers!

~Megan


Custom Pokedex Case for Pokemon GO players

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Yeah. I’m still in its grasp, and if you’re a Pokemon fan I imagine you are too. Like me you’ve also likely noticed the drain it can bring to your phone’s battery. Well, one pokefan has come up with a design that with a bit of electrical work and access to a 3D printer.

That’s right, it’s a custom case with built in charger that looks like the original pokedex. 😀 Designed by Spark Fun user npoole this case is pretty simple and super sharp to carry around. They have a nice set of instructions so you can make it yourself (with estimated cost around $40) though it is sadly only available for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 6. If you are decent at computer modeling, or know someone who is, you may be able to tweak the design and make one to fit your phone as well. Now if only the servers would stay reliable….