Is there nothing craft can’t fix? Exhibit ‘A’ is this dull grey cardy with not much going for it. Mix a bit of craft magic and you’ve got a one off piece that’s suddenly got some balls.
This is another example of the Sublime Stitching patterns (which I reviewed here) put to good use. A great bonus is that it can be done in just one evening.
I gave the stretchy fabric extra strength by ironing Wonderweb onto the back of the area I wanted to stitch, this made sewing neat stitches much easier.
Once you’re done sewing you can also iron another layer over the first patch to seal any loose ends (Just make sure the patch of wonder web is larger than the first so that your iron doesn’t melt the glue as this can leave sticky, dirty marks on both the iron and the fabric.)
I think this looks great with colour-pop accessories that pick out the colours of the embroidery. My favourite way to wear it is with a yellow belt, yellow heels, a red ring, navy pencil skirt and a stripy top.
Hayward Gallery, London
1 Feb-13 May 2012
Before the weekend, I told you that I was going to the David Shrigley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and I’ve been looking forward to telling you all about it. Firstly I must say ‘sorry, folks’ — I went on the last day, so this is a retrospective review, not a call to go and see it but there’s always other exhibitions, his books and online to check out.
He is most known for his comical stick men drawings and quippy text. Trained as a fine artist, Shrigley dismissed perfection to make rough, amateur line drawings. It seems an odd choice but not when you consider his aim to make light of strange situations. His jokes just couldn’t be delivered in the same way with fine art as a medium.
Shrigley not only produces a character on the page but also above it — he creates the persona of the artist, not himself but a weird and disarming character who even Shrigley says he wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine the strange boy at school who everyone is fascinated by but far too scared to go near. The viewer is brought into the ‘artists’ world and can immediately see things are off kilter.
If you enjoy his drawings I recommend his books, which always bring a chuckle. But the exhibition delivers more. His taxidermy animals probably pack the most impact.
A stuffed headless ostrich stands proud – (where is the head, in the metaphoric sand?) A decapitated squirrel holds his head like a nut. A stuffed Jack Russell holds a sign saying ‘I’m dead’.
Shrigley has a similar sculpture, a stuffed cat holding the same sign. When I first saw it (in a gallery setting), I laughed out loud at the absurdity of it. But try explaining the joke (try explaining any of his jokes) and it’ll fall flat. In this case, I was quite surprised that I’d laughed at a dead, stuffed animal – especially as it was so cute, but that’s what his work does. It pulls you into something a bit dark and twisted, and you become a part of it.
Once you’ve seen his work, you’ll notice the ‘Shrigley effect’ all around you. For example, the Ed Monkon greetings cards, I’m also convinced his style has influenced a number of illustrator friends. If you’ve not already fallen in love with Shrigley, give him a try – I guarantee it’s worth the giggle.
P.S. Not one to slack off from crafting, I bought these Shrigley plectrums from the gift shop. I’m thinking with a bit of trickery, one will be a brooch, the other a pendant a la Tatty Devine.
This DIY tote saves lives. Okay, it doesn’t but I’m at least confident it’s environmental friendly and it definitely banishes the guilt of taking plastic bags from shop staff, which I’m guilty of doing almost daily.
Of course, it’s not like totes are new inventions. I almost have as many as I do plastic bags. I shabby tatty ones; I have gorgeous ones that are too nice to use. In fact that’s the issue, I have so many but rarely use them.
I figured a small, simple but pretty tote, which could I keep in my handbag, would be something I’d actually use… And of course, it was an excuse to do my new favourite thing – stamping!
The tote cost me £2 and the stamps were a fun, quick and easy way to jazz it up. I picked the bird stamp for under £2 and made the heart stamp as I explained here.
The stamping involves the same process I used for this geometric t-shirt… Which I like so much, I may have to make a matching tote!
There. That’s better. Thanks for waiting, it’s just my love for this record cake stand became a bit too much!
Don’t you love it too?! It’s so easy to make – just assemble a few records to a standard cake stand fitting and voila! Obviously don’t go using your favourite vinyl (I was pretty happy to find S-Express in a charity shop for £1. Not so happy to have ‘I’ve got the hots for you!’ ringing my head for two days! It’s still there, manically singing away.)
I had to dismantle my other cake stand so that I could use the fitting to make this one but I’ll be eBaying for another ‘3 tier cake stand fitting’ in about seven minutes.
*It’s 30 days until I’m 30! I get swathes of anxiety thinking about it. Celebrating the countdown, I woke up to a pre-birthday card which included tickets to the David Shrigley exhibition tomorrow (more on that in a later post, I’m sure!) It was a wonderful surprise and I’m super chuffed, although I now feel like a ticking bomb. What happen’s in 30 days? Perhaps, instead of exploding like a popped balloon, I wither like a deflated one. I feel overwhelming urges to buy some industrial anti-wrinkle cream RIGHT NOW!
Back to the cake stand. I’m thinking I can fill a few record bowls with retro sweets and place vol-au-vents, scotch eggs and cheese and pineapple on the stand. Oh, won’t my guests be thrilled with the selection; did we really all eat this junk? At least I still like rice crispy cakes!
Have you got any tips for an 80’s party you can help me with? Do you know any typically 80s craft projects I can use for decoration? Maybe you have a food, music or cocktail suggestion? Any help is muchly appreciated!
Meet Charlie. He’s my easy-to-assemble felt doorstop. Lover of open space and cool breezes, he stops dead any squeaking or slamming doors with his mighty owlness. Want one (twit) twoo? Here’s what’s to do…
What you will need:
Material scraps for the features
A selection of button
Needle and thread / sewing machine
Filling (I used dried butter beans)
Mark one side of your owl shape on felt, fold the felt in half and cut both layers so you have a perfectly symmetric owl shape.
Use this first shape as a template to cut another – now you have your front and back.
Cut shapes for the features (wings, eyes x 3 pieces, beak as shown). Arrange these and your buttons into a design you’re happy with, then take a picture so you can remember where they all go!
Sew on your feature shapes and buttons, then you’re ready to sew the two sides together.
Lay the front of the owl face down onto the back piece of felt, sew round the edge leaving a hole at the bottom.
Turn your owl inside out and fill with something weighty enough to hold a door but not too small that it might leak out of the sides (i.e. rice) – I used dried butter beans.
Sew up the hole, give him a cute name and you’re done!
Whoop, I’ve rediscovered polymer clay and I feel like a kid again! Here’s one of many bits I’ve been working on…
What you will need:
Silicone ice cube tray (or mould specifically for polymer clay)
Polymer clay (I used Fimo in pearlised white)
Varnish, clear nail varnish will do — optional
Glue (I used two-part resin, Araldite)
Tips for using polymer clay:
- Warm the clay by rubbing between your palms first — this will make it more pliable.
- Push the clay into any cracks of your mould and smooth over using an orange stick (or cuticle stick).
- If you’re using an ice cube tray, don’t fill the mould all the way — unless you want a very thick brooch!
- Check that your ice cube tray is okay to use in the oven. Be warned crafters, not all that bends is silicone — and if it’s not silicone it’ll melt when you cook it! (As I’ve found out myself!) Check the pack but if you’re not sure, bend it — if it looks clear or looses colour it isn’t silicone and is likely to melt.
- If you’re careful you can use the ice cube tray as a mould, turning out the clay before cooking.
- To harden the clay, cook on 110C/ 230F for 30 minutes and leave it to cool.
- I prefer the matte effect but once cool you can varnish it. Fimo produces its own hardening varnish, though other crafters often use clear nail varnish to the same effect.
Once finished, I attached the brooch back and covered the reverse side in felt. Here’s how to do this bit:
- Place the skull on top of felt and place both on your cutting mat. Trim round the skull using your rotary trimmer (or scalpel blade) so you have a piece of felt the same size as the brooch.
- Cut two small holes large enough for the hinge and clasp of the brooch to fit through.
- Pass the brooch back through the holed felt and stick both to the reverse side of the skull. Clamp with clothing pegs and leave to dry.
On Pinspiration day, I take an idea from Pinterest and use it to make a home DIY project. Today I’m making a geometric print t-shirt first posted from Etsy.
I made my version of this t-shirt using homemade stamps and ink.
What you need:
Scissors/ a craft knife and mat
Bottle tops/ plastic caps
A cheap or old t-shirt
Craft ink (I used a black ink by VersaCraft, which can be used on fabric)
Using your ruler, measure and draw your shapes onto foam. Obviously, you don’t have to stick to geometric shapes, though these are quick and easy to do.
Cut your foam shapes. I used two foam shapes glued on top of one another to create a thicker stamp. Then glue the shapes onto upturned bottle lids or the plastic tops to hairspray etc. Grown-up crafters like to use proper wooden blocks but I’m child and like instant gratification so I improvised.
Once these are fully dry you’re good to start printing! But hold on…
- Remember to protect the other side of your top from ink that could bleed through. To do this, place a plastic bin liner inside the t-shirt.
- Make sure you’re stamping onto a hard surface as this will make for a better print.
- Practise makes perfect! You might want to do a few trial stamps on a scrap bit of fabric.
Let your stamps dry fully and then remember to iron both the front and reverse side of the fabric to fix your ink, that way it won’t fade in the wash. Happy stamping!
Remember this ring I blogged about a while ago? I told you I’d post about how I made it. Well, it’s been a while but here it is.
Making these fabric jewellery pieces feels a little bit like magic. You can use any image you like so long as its laser printed onto paper. The best bit is that the process can be used for all sorts of projects so you can create customised fabric either to frame or use for your next sewing project.
Because of the process involved, the fabric ends up a little like waxed fabric, which means it’s great for items that need to be wiped clean like table runners or make-up bags.
Here’s a few more I made using the same process…
What you will need:
An image laser printed onto paper (it must be laser printed, not ink or it won’t work)
A scrap of fabric
Acrylic gel medium (you can find this online, or in art supply shops)
A paint brush
Ring / brooch findings (see picture, right)
A needle and thread
Using a laser jet printer, print your chosen image onto paper. Make sure that the image is slightly smaller than the findings (see above). I chose circular findings for the ring and larger oval findings for the brooch but you will find lots to choose from at craft or jewellery stores, or online.
Paint the printed image generously with gel medium and lay it face down on a scrap of fabric. Pat down to get out any air bubbles or creases. (Make sure to wash your brush quickly or the gel medium will dry and be hard to get off.) Hang the fabric pieces up to dry for 24 hours.
Once they are fully dry, wet the paper and carefully peel it off the fabric. The best way to do this is to rub it with you fingertips but be gentle around the edges as the gel, not just the paper, may start to lift.
As you remove the paper you will see your image imprinted on the hard layer of gel.
Make sure all the paper is off. As the paper is wet it may be hard to see and you might find that once your fabric is dry there is still a little paper left. If so, repeat the process.
Once all the paper is off, hang your fabric to dry. Once dry, paint it with another layer of gel medium – this time thin – and hang to dry again.
Now that you have your bespoke fabric, it’s time to make the jewellery.
Simply stretch the fabric over the disc section of the jewellery finding making sure that the image is well centered. Trim any excess fabric and secure at the back with a few stitches. You will find that the gel has made the fabric stiff, which may create corners instead of smooth edges. Add a few stitches here to smooth these out.
Next, pop the disc onto the back piece of the finding (the ring or brooch base) and press the teeth down with pliers. Enjoy your new jewellery!
Hundreds of Hip Embroideries and How-to
By jenny Hart (Chronicle Books)
Seeing as I heart Sublime Stitching so much and embroider quite a lot of their patterns, I thought it was about time I reviewed one of their books.
If you’re not familiar with Sublime Stitching, get Googling quick! The head honcho, Jenny Hart is an inspirational crafter and luckily for fans she produces a large range of iron-on embroidery designs so everyone can have a go.
When I embroidering as a kid I was disappointed by the choice available. It was all fruit bowls and stuffy still lifes of flowers. Bore. Jenny’s motto is; ‘this ain’t your grandma’s embroidery’ and the phrase pretty much nails it. Jenny is one of the people who has modernised craft – embroidery in particular – and made it fun, accessible and meaningful to a new generation. (If that isn’t worth a Google search, what is?)
Each sheet in this book has a number of designs (often larger or smaller versions of the same image so you can choose your size). Each sheet of images is protected by another page so the designs don’t transfer onto each other.
You simply cut out the image and iron on — but don’t take my word for it, the book has full instructions including lessons on a range of stitches such as feather, chain and satin. For the beginner, these instructions are great — they’re clear but not patronising and Jenny’s style of writing is always fun and welcoming.
The spiral binding makes it easy to use and there are useful pockets at the front and back to store the designs once you’ve cut them out to use them. (The only annoyance is there are so many they won’t all fit).
Reading other reviews, some people were disappointed by what they thought was a lack of new designs. It’s true that Jenny has produced many similar books and if you already have one or two you’re likely to see familiar images, but in my view there is enough to keep me busy and happy for a long time.
If you do want something a bit different, try the individual kits sold on the Sublime Stitching webiste. I bought the wedding kit to embroider this ‘love blanket’ and they also do great designs by Ryan Berkley, The Black Apple and artist and skater, Michael Sieben. You can also chose from tattoo designs, robots, 50’s pin-up sirens, zombies or sugar skulls. (Argh, craft project overload!)
The designs in the book are varied but many fit into a theme: animals; flowers; children and babies; food; tea parties. My favourites however, are the tattoo style birds (which you will see a lot of on my blog) and the cocktails (how couldn’t they be!)
Here’s an example of the bird and a rose, which I sewed onto a babygrow. I’ve also sewn Jenny’s cat designs on other babygrows; the bird onto a fabric envelope and lots more designs onto an embroidered patchwork baby blanket, which I will post on soon!