Happy New Year!

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The countdown is on, Thursday Crafthackers!

If you’re throwing a New Year’s Eve party, then you are in countdown mode (literally) for figuring out food, outfit and of course, decorations!  I’ve got one for a photobooth backdrop that is super impressive and really festive!

The first is from Oh Happy Day (the original post can be found here). The only thing that you will need to get ahold of is large sequins, which might be a little challenge to find but they can certainly be ordered here or here, or you can check the craft stores near you to see what they have available. You can use any size, but the larger they are, the less you need, the less time consuming. At 60mm, you will need about 600 of them.  You will also need 6 pieces of thin foam board at 1/8″ thick, and 32″ x 40″ wide. 2 rolls of cheap gold or silver wrapping paper to cover the board, good masking tape (that comes off the walls without tearing the paint), 600+ sequin pins (really short straight pins, one for every sequin), a ruler and a long piece of posterboard to make a guide.

Your first step is to attach the foam board. Tape it to the wall, so that we can have an undamaged wall after this project. Stack them from the floor up so that the weight is on the floor and the tape just holds them in place.

Next, tape the wrapping paper on top of the foam board. Don’t worry about the seams, when the sequins are added, you can’t really see them.

Next, add your first row of sequins, starting at the bottom of the wall. You don’t have to start at the very bottom, just below where your camera will capture. Figure out how far apart you’d like the sequins. This tutorial used 2.5″ between each pin, and, to get it straight, use a ruler :).

For the second row of sequins, you can test out how you like the spacing. They look nice when they’re staggered, so they nestle between each other.

 

You can now make a guide so that you only really need to measure those first two rows Use a long piece of poster board the exact distance between the first and second row of pins. Using a ruler, make a pencil mark every 2.5″ on one side of the guide. Make a few marks on the other side to line up to the pins that are already in place.

Your next step is to pin them all up! When you have your guide, you can place it on top of the second row of pins and you will know exactly where to stick your pins into the board. It’s good to try to be accurate but it will get easier once you get going. The sequins cover up many flaws. Just try to make sure that they are parallel with the floor, that way they won’t sit against the wall, they’ll dangle and sparkle and move when people walk by. Hanging it towards the front of the pin will give you maximum shine!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy New Years!

~ Megan

 


Art, No Matter the Medium

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For centuries, and especially during the last one, the question has been raised of ‘What is art?’. The Expressionist movement, started it in the early 20th century, with particular note to the Dadaist movement within it, were some of the first to really explore this question thru art and it’s something that has continued to be explored up to today with the post abstract modern art movement. It’s a fascinating mind think to ponder and define for yourself, as my art teachers have always been firm believers that art is in the eye of the beholder, and therefore can only be defined for that person’s tastes. The question I’m posing today branches off of this with ‘What can be used to make art?’.

For some people there are only a few mediums that are available to one who wants their work to be defined as art: paints, inks, wax, clay, and marble. The invention of Photoshop and it’s subsequent take over of the art world has often remained a strong contention point since its introduction in the late 80s as to whether or not a digital medium can be considered as skillful and praise worthy as working in something like oil paints. As someone whose gone thru formal training in the program I certainly believe it’s worthy of being considered a recognized art medium, but that’s not the program I wanted to show today.

No, today’s artist uses a medium that I highly doubt any artist would’ve thought to try right away; Microsoft Excel.

This video highlights the beautiful digital paintings created by Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi entirely in Excel. The 77-year old burgeoning artist decided he wanted to take up painting after retiring, but didn’t want to spend money on expensive paints or canvas, and decided to try the digital route. Not wanting to pay for an art program either if he could avoid it, he discovered Excel’s graphic abilities one day and started experimenting with them (not just filling cells with colors as some knitters are wont to do to design patterns). It’s truly amazing to see some of his finished work and it definitely makes you ponder the question I mentioned above. Since he only uses already available assets and manipulates them into images; ‘Is it art?’ Only you can define that for yourself.


The Cheap Dye That is Surprisingly Decent

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Dying things can be a long and expensive process sometimes. Not to mention all the steps you have to go through to prepare it so that it’ll stay. Thankfully, the internet has come to our rescue once more! Today I’ll be sharing the secrets of using the cheap drink brand Kool-aid as your all purpose dye.

I first started looking into this when I can across a post were a leather user talked about how they decided to try this just for laughs while making a drink:

I was making a drink while cutting the snaps off some new straps for my pauldrons and I got curious, so I tried it, thinking, “ok even if this works, it will just wash out.”

Nope.

It took the “dye” (undiluted) in about 3 seconds. After drying for about an hour and a half, it would not wash off in the hottest tap-water. It would not wash out after soaking for 30 minutes.

They then go on to talk about how it took boiling the dyed leather to even slightly remove the dye. O.O That’s some pretty powerful stuff there. So, what can we learn from this and apply for ourselves? Well, after some experimenting and reading on my part, I’ve found that Kool-aid as a dye works pretty well for a variety of natural fiber mediums such as leather, wool, cotton, hair, flax, jute, silk and so on. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re not just making Kool-aid proper and then adding your items to it. It needs to be the flavor only packet/liquid as the pre mixed once have sugar. The sugar will make your end product sticky and unusable down the line. That’s no good for anyone

Also, you’ll want to heat the dye water up, just like you would with commercial dyes. This helps stimulate the molecules and ‘activate’ the dye to help the color permeate. Once it’s set for 20-30mins, let it dry and then rise in cold water to remove the excess. 😀 Several people have even made charts to help others achieve desired colors! A quick google search gave me this one, but there are loads more, including yarn results which very much so appeal to me, lol.

So there you have it. Never think that dying something it out of your budget as long as you have access to Kool-aid. ^_^


Jumanji Board Replica

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With the new reboot/remake of Jumanji coming soon, this felt like a timely addition to the site. I’m nervous how this new one will turn out giving how much I enjoyed the original. It was probably one of my favorite movies as a kid.

Youtuber Steve Richter has done what many of us in the 90s only wished we could; build his own replica of the game completely from scratch. Sadly he seems to have skipped the steps that enchated  it into a magical world altering game, but hey, it’s certainly better then the crappy standard boardgame they released after the movie came out. I’ve included the 15min time lapse version of it for you all the pine over with me. 😉

 


DIY: Egg Carton Spring Wreaths

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers.

I have for you a project, this morning, that you can do with kids, though it does take a few weeks of planning to save the egg cartons you will need. Though, if you have friends nearby, ask them to save theirs for you and you should have a collection in about a week or two. You can find the full tutorial here at Homemade Serenity. I think this is a super cool idea to do, especially with kids, really anything to get kids working with their hands for something to show off on the front door. My mother used a white garbage bag wreath I made for many years when I was young and it was always one of my favourite things to see when I came up to her house in the winter.

Step one: Making your flower shapes.

Once you have a plethora of egg cartons at your disposal, you and your team of super duper crafters will need to cut out the cups and cut them into varying shapes of petals. Curved, spiky, small petals, big petals. Whatever you can think of! You can save the in between pieces for the centre of the flowers, and you can make leaves out of the flat parts of your cartons. The one piece that you will need to have, that you cannot get from an egg carton is a base for your wreath. You can use an old box, you can buy cardboard or you can just use a clean pizza box lid. All you need to do is cut a ring the size that you would like your wreath and have enough little egg cups and leaves to cover it.

Your next step is to paint these beauties. You can use any kind of paint you like, like bright tempura paints, or if you’re making your own egg carton wreath without little humans running around, you might want to get a little more detailed with the colour. Whoever is doing the painting, let it be fun and cheerful. This is a spring wreath, after all. Paint your base as well so that if there are any spots that are a little less filled, then no one will notice. If you’re working with kids (as that blogger did), you can go in after the main colours are painted to add details or secondary colours. It’s all about how much extra you’d like to do to your happy little wreath.

When your flowers are dry, using a hot glue gun (watch out for little fingers), you can choose where and how to place each flower. They might be a little stiff from painting, but you can manhandle them a little to loosen them up and get them looking how you’d like. Remember you can double them up for a layered effect, glue in the little centres that you made, and to fill in any gaps with leaves. If you want to get really creative you can add pieces of ribbon, you can add glitter glue to edges, you can add buttons to centres… you can really add anything that you’d like. Something like this needs to be super fun and playful. If you would like, you can also spray it with a sealant to keep it for the following year or make a new tradition of making a spring wreath every year! (Like pumpkins!)

When everything is dry and set, you’re ready to hang. Just make sure to hang this cheerful wreath out of the elements, so if you have a covered porch it would be fine, otherwise inside would be best as it is, after all, something that would droop and possibly disintegrate with enough water exposure. I think the finished project is so cute and cheerful that even though it’s just painted egg cartons, it would brighten up any room.

 

Hope you enjoyed the DIY!

Happy crafting!

~ Megan


Gearing Up for Show Season, Part 3

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. In previous Wednesday posts, I have brought up how to apply for shows, what to do for Juried events and photos, and what questions to ask an event to determine if its a good fit for you. Once you apply, and receive an acceptance, what next?

Creating stock for the event. Generally, think about the theme of the show, the demographics and buying power of customers likely to attend an event. If there are special guests or celebrities, consider whether items inspired by them should be something you offer. A wide variety of pricing can also help. The rule is enough stock to refill your table 3-5 times.

Make sure your display is tasteful, geared toward the event, and something easily visible to customers. It should never overpower your stock. If using tables, consider table lifts. They are easy to make or buy, and raise the tables enough so that customers don’t have to bend too far to see what you have. Organize your things, and have price tags or price signs out. Many customers don’t want to ask the cost of items- they may simply walk away and assume they can’t afford what you have. A sign across the front of your table or hanging on a display behind you will help with customers that are farther away. If at an art or craft show, having a banner across the top bar of your tent, or framed is a nice touch. Make sure it includes a logo or photos, along with contact information such as websites, email or social media links.

Invest in good business cards, shopping bags in paper or plastic, wrapping tissue, bubble wrap, boxes, or other packing materials for customer purchases. Unless you are selling bags or purses, most customers want their purchases wrapped. Buying handmade implies a higher level of service, so make sure that every part of the purchase is a pleasant one. If you want to make reusing or recycling part of your concept, offer newspaper, saved bags, or them about going green. Make sure you can take credit cards, because it will account for a significant number of your sales.

Before your show, its also a good idea to make sure you utilize social media to its full potential. Advertise the show, share photos of the art available, and make sure to publish directions and a map to your space. When at the show, walk around, talk with other artists and vendors, and network. Many times you can share customers, or direct them to someone who may sell something you don’t make. It is a small community, and it helps everyone when you are nice.

Next week, we can talk about pricing your items for your event!


Salt Dough Ornaments

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Hey there Thursday readers!

I come to you with a tutorial with an old recipe, one that can be used both for kids an adults and can be a super cheap alternative to dressing a tree with expensive ornaments. That’s right, make your own ornaments. These can be done with kids and they will look rustic and cute, or you can transform them with some glitter or metallic sharpies into some very chic designs. I’ve taken the tutorial from Wholefully (please click to find some more detailed photos), but there are many recipes floating around, and you can ask your mother, she might have one too. You will need some simple tools that you’ll find in the kitchen – like a rolling pin and parchment paper, as well as baking sheets – but you’ll also need some holiday shaped cookie cutters (or if you just want to cut your designs or cut circles using a cup, you can) as well as either painting or drawing materials.

To prepare, you’ll basically be making a rolled cookie dough which is made with 4 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup of table salt, and 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water. To make your dough, mix together the flour and salt in a bowl and then slowly pour the warm water into the mix and stir as you go. Keep stirring until all the water is gone, and when that happens you should have a very stiff dough which you will need to knead with your hands for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable, almost like a pizza dough but stiffer. Keep in mind these will make white ornaments. If you would like to have coloured ornaments, you can separate your dough and add food colouring to small portions. It’s up to you.

Next, take a piece of your dough and sandwich it between two pieces of parchment paper. Make sure the paper is large enough and roll your dough until it is 1/8th of an inch thick. You will want to make sure they stay on the thin side as if the ornaments are too thick, they will break more easily due to air pockets in the dough.

Remove the top sheet of parchment and use your cookie cutters to cut shapes into your dough. When you’re finished, keep the pieces on the parchment, and just peel the edges away. You will want to make sure to take a straw to make a hole in your ornaments before you bake them so that you can hang them. If you want to put texture on your ornaments, you can do it here – pierce it with a fork, put fingerprints, use rubber stamps – be creative!

Transfer the whole sheet of parchment paper onto a baking sheet, and bake in a 300 degree oven for about an hour. You will know they are done as they will harden. They will be a bit overdone if they turn brown, but you will be decorating them so it’s not something that can’t be hidden.

Once they’re cooled, you’re ready to decorate. You can spray a coat of white paint as a base, or you can start decorating them right on the dough.You can use acrylic, tempra, puffy paint, you can use glitter, glitter glue or metalic sharpie markers. You can really decorate them however you’d like, and after you’re done, you just need a sealant (like mod podge) to make sure that they’ll keep – you can do either matte or glossy finish, whatever you prefer. Slide in a ribbon and hang!

Filigree hand done with sharpies from Our Lake Life

Filigree hand done with sharpies from Our Lake Life

There are so many different options that you can do, and here are a few images to inspire you!

From Shelterness, dough that was decorated with plain old blue pen and acrylic spray paint

From Shelterness, dough that was decorated with plain old blue pen and acrylic spray paint.

Happy crafting!

~ Megan


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


DIY: Seasoned Ornaments

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Good Morning Thursday readers!

I came across something super cool last week when I was looking at what I wanted to write about. It’s simple, and easy, and makes a really nice gift for anyone who loves entertaining or even better, it makes a great host gift alternative to wine. Though… I know many people who love a good bottle of red.

This is probably one of the easiest tutorials I’ve posted, though I was inspired so I wanted to share it. You really only need a few things, and the main one you can find at a craft store. The one important material you will need to search for is food safe ornaments (plastic or glass) that have a removable top. I know that my local craft store sells many ornaments that can be taken apart and filled and are all different sizes. Outside of those, everything else is up to you. I would recommend ribbon to trim, fancy tags to attach to show how to make the dip and what it is, and if you want to be really fancy, run to the dollar store and grab a nice basket/box/tin to package them in.

 

The only other thing you need is a funnel, and the right ingredients for your mixes – if you are planning on doing more than one batch, I would fill some airtight containers with your dip mixes, and that way you can keep them separate and make enough for each gift. You will need about 6 tablespoons of your home made mix.

So take a look at some of the photos above, check out what’s available at your local craft stores and get creating some beautiful gifts! To get you started, here are some links to recipes that you can use to fill your ornaments with. You can do dips, you can do soup mixes, you can do hot chocolates, dried herbs… really any mix that is non perishable!

Here are some fantastic dip recipes from Naturally Loriel (just scroll down a bit to find them)

Here are some from Sprinkle Some Fun

I hope you enjoy making these. I think that they are such nice gifts, especially because they’re consumable but they look so nice and they’re a little out of the ordinary.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan


DIY: Vintage Electronics Organizer

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers.

I found something super cool on my wanderings through the internet, and I end up (as I have noticed I often do) browsing through Design Sponge‘s DIY section. I came across something super special and awesome, but be forewarned, this is probably something that will take a little bit of time to put together, not to mention patience, but the end result is super impressive. Check out the full tutorial here.

You will need to do some shopping for materials:

  • vintage cloth-bound hardcover book with dimensions close to 6.5″ x 10.5″ x 1.75″ thick
  • black rubberized fabric like a non-slip black drawer liner material from the hardware store, but a thin neoprene foam will work, as well, You can also probably use vinyl from a fabric store.
  • 9 yards black elastic ribbon, 0.5″ thick
  • sewing machine, pins, needle and black thread
  • illustration board or thin mat board (same dimension as your book)
  • Elmer’s Glue and fabric glue
  • ruler, box cutter and cutting mat
  • black photo tape (available at art stores)

Your first step is to use your box cutter and (carefully, so as not to remove phalanges), to remove the pages from the book, keeping the covers and the spine in tact. Lay your book, face down, on top of your black fabric and trace the dimensions, and use your box cutter and a ruler to cut a rectangle 1/8″ smaller on all sides than the traced dimensions.

Next, take your elastic and cut it into both short strips (the width of your book cover) and long strips (the height of the cover), and cut enough of them to fill the book cover when laid side to side. If your strips don’t match up exactly, opt for one less and space them out slightly. Starting in the upper left corner of the black cut fabric, pin your long strips in a row and sew them down along the edge. Don’t secure the bottom yet, and don’t forget to remove the pins.

This is when you can add the short strips, and do the same thing along the long edge that you did with the long elastic strips.  you can sew this edge before arranging them if you would like.  This is the point where you will need to create a weave, and pin all the other edges of the elastic in place before sewing them. You will basically need to alternate laying the short elastic over or under the longer strands to create a basket like pattern. Take a look…

You do not want a symmetrical weave, as the more space you leave, the bigger the accessory that you can store. Keeping places where you leave 2 or 3 elastics exposed is a good thing.You can choose how big or small you want your spaces to be, and you may want to keep some accessories handy so you can test it out.

When all the short strips are pinned in place, and you’re happy with how it looks, sew around all of the other unsewn edges to secure them in place and trim any excess from around the edges.

 

Cut your illustration/mat board to the inner dimension of the front book cover. Use your sewing machine or an awl to poke holes around all four edges of the board. You can hand crank the sewing machine, which allows you to space the holes out a bit more.

Use a needle and thread to sew the board to the backside of the black fabric – behind the side of the elastic grid.You can do this easily and securely using a blanket stitch. Just make sure to pull each edge tight, since you’re sewing to stretch the fabric and tighten the grid.

Once your board is sewn to the backside of the grid and the grid is pulled tight, cover the three edges with black photo tape (or you can sew or glue on fabric tape if you prefer).

On the right-hand side of the fabric rectangle (the side that will cover the inside of the back book cover), use your knife to cut a 3.5″ horizontal slit for the pocket 1″ from the edges (not including the width of the spine) and 4.5″ up from the bottom edge. You can also cut 2 horizontal slits at 4 inches above the pocket and instert a thick band of fabric so that a phone can be held in place. You can really add whatever you’d like, and if you really like the elastic grid, you can do a second one of those too.

You’re now ready to add your lining to the book cover. You can use craft glue on the side with the paper board, but be sure to use glue that is good for fabric on the side with just the fabric backing. Add your glue (make sure to get to the edges), and press into place. Make sure to line up the edges evenly and press down firmly. Clean any glue mishaps, and lay the book open on the floor, cover it with a sheet of clean scrap paper and then put something heavy on top so that everything will dry flat. Let everything dry overnight. If you want to add any latches or elastics over buttons to help to keep this closed, you can do that. Or you can leave it just like a book.

I think that this is such a fabulous tutorial for such a unique gift. Love it so much.

 

Happy crafting!

Megan