Thursday, September 30, 2010

Snail mail




Images by Ames

We live in a society that is obsessed with texts, emails and social networking sites. As a result, there are many sad mail boxes out there that are feeling neglected. They would like to receive a personalised note from you, rather than the bills and junk mail that fills their empty gullets. When was the last time you posted a letter or card?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Making Feltie Friends


Felties: How to Make 18 Cute and Fuzzy Friends by Nelly Pailloux (published by Penguin Books in 2009) is a fantastic craft book. As the title suggests, it provides the instructions for a range of felties. They are just adorable.

For those of you that do not know what felties are, they are cute little creatures made from felt. They are stuffed and can be embellished with beads, ribbon and embroidery. This book contains patterns for feltie friends including a sailor puppy, samurai cat and hoodie wolf. I have made a few including the babushka and chihuahua as shown in the image above. The great thing about making things from a book like this is that you do not have to make your toy exactly as prescribed. You can change the colour of felt or the embellishments. Go on, make one.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quote of the day..

Image by Ames

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.
(Aristotle)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Melbourne's city street art





Images by Ames

We both went for a walk around Melbourne's laneways on the weekend and loved the street art. These are some of our favourites.

Dedicated to John Watson.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reuse & Revitalise



Six hours of elbow grease was all it took to transform this sorely neglected hardwood draughtsmans table (circa 1960) into a sturdy craft table / computer workstation that we can keep in our family for the next 50 years.

The table was covered in dust, chewing gum and sticky tape collected over its decades of use in a public library. The wear and tear has given it a character that we adore but we could certainly do without the sticky bits!

First up, we soaked the tape with detergent to remove the carriers. I then rubbed down the adhesive residue with eucalytus oil and scraped it all off. This process took about 2 hours.

The second part was to chip away fifty years worth of atrophied chewing gum chunks stuck under the table. This task also took about 2 hours but seemed to take far longer!

Finally, after 2 hours of polishing, wiping and vacuuming - oh and did I mention gently scrubbing the laminate with a toothbrush - my work was done.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The only way is up...

Image borrowed from DECO myplace

I love the mix-mash of bookshelves! Looks great.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Plain Tiger Butterflies: starting a craft group

Image from Balmer, E. 2007, A Concise Guide to Butterflies & Moths, Bath: Parragon.

I have often had discussions with many crafty types about getting together to make craft. I am thinking something casual, something fun.

So enough talking and more doing......

In line with the name of this blog, I have decided to name the group Plain Tiger Butterflies. I am sure that the attendees will change from month to month, but that doesn't matter. And I don't mind if one or ten people turn up. It is just a chance to get together, enjoy the making, and maybe have a treat to eat.

Giving new life to French Syntax: Book Repair Part 1

Tash bought this poor old book at a book fair. It has been through the wars - that is a water war. As you can see, there is a considerable amount of staining to the bottom portion of the book as a result of water damage. The binding is also in a poor condition - the cover is detached and there are numerous loose pages.

I cannot read or speak French, but that does not mean that I cannot enjoy this book. In addition, I think that the damage just adds character. It tells a story. And there are some great sections of text (in English) that make me smile - like the excerpt above.

I am in the process of repairing the book in order to preserve it so that other people can enjoy it for years to come. So far, I have taken down the book (unbound it) and have started to repair some of the torn pages and sections (groups of pages). The next steps include rebinding and re-attaching the cover. I could make new covers, but I think the damaged original covers should be repaired and used as they add a flavour of quirkiness.

Repairing books is so much fun!

First craft group project: Softies for Mirabel!


Image borrowed from Meet me at Mike's

The Plain Tiger Butterflies already have a craft project. Meet me at Mike's are collecting for Softies for Mirabel and I think we should be a contributing craft group. For those that do not know, softies are cute stuffed toys. They can also be called felties or plushies. I will be making something for Mirabel and will be asking my crafty friends to join in!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sleep On It: Mattresses=Art

Images by Savina (SHopkins Fossick)
I was reading a post by the talented Savina, highlighting an appreciation for the abandoned mattress.

It reminded me of some photographs I saw a few years ago by Toby Richardson. The particular series is entitled More Singles Couples and Queens (2008), depicting used mattresses. They are amazing prints. The friend that was with me had to look twice before she recognised the subject matter, she was so taken by them.

From the link above, it appears that Toby Richardson's new work is focused on op shops and garage sales - right up Savina's alley also.Why not check out his work and her blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Making Resin Jewellery: Part 3 (Polyurethane)

Embedding in epoxy is not the only option for making resin jewellery. For an opaque look - using various colours - why not try polyurethane.

Brooches & Ring

Method: using a polyurethane with a fast curing time - in this case Solid Solutions Solid Cast 660 Polyurethane:
  • There are Part A and Part B components to this product.
  • Measure out the same volume of each part into separate cups (that is 1:1).
  • If using pigments, add the pigment to one part of the two separate cups. Mix well.
  • Working quickly, put the liquid from both cups into a larger cup and mix.
  • Components are stirred together for 40 seconds only, using a figure 8 action.
  • Then pour the mixture into the chosen mould, using a moderate even flow. If possible, pour down the side of the mould.
  • If this is not done quickly, the polyurethane will set in the cup.
  • This product sets very quickly and can be taken out of the mould in about 10-15 minutes.
Made with polyurethane and photographic prints

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Making Resin Jewellery: Part 2

    Resin brooches by Ames 2010
    Working with resin is easy; however you do have to be mindful of a few safety issues when using the chemicals. I recommend that you work in a well ventilated area. For example, set up a table outside on a beautiful sunny day. Wear gloves (latex or nitrile), an apron to protect your clothes, and safety glasses (or sunglasses) to protect your eyes.

    You will need to purchase some epoxy resin for embedding. There are a number of suppliers, including craft stores. However, if you want to purchase the resin in bulk, are interested in using pigments, want to buy ready made moulds, or just want some advice, I suggest that you go to Barnes or Solid Solutions if you are in Melbourne. These suppliers also run demonstrations and classes. Visit the websites for further information or feel free to leave a comment and I will try to get back to you.  All you need now is some silicon moulds, which are flexible. As mentioned, you can buy ready made moulds for bangles, rings and various shapes. For a cheaper alternative, ice-cube trays and muffin moulds work well. If you are really adventurous, you can even make your own moulds. The materials can be purchased from the above mentioned suppliers.

    Time to start resin-ating.

    Method: using an epoxy resin with a slow curing time - in this case Solid Solutions Solid Cast 606

    • Before you commence mixing the epoxy resin, choose the items you would like to embed. Items for embedding include ribbon, lace, fabric, buttons, beads, sequins, threads, paper items, photographs, flowers, leaves etc. The items can be added to the mould during or after pouring the resin. Place them slowly into the mixture to avoid air bubbles.
    • There are Part A and Part B components to the epoxy resin product.
    • Accurately measure out Part A and Part B by weight into two clean cups. The ratio is 3:1 (that is 3 parts of Part A to 1 part of Part B).
    • Pour the liquid from Part B into Part A and mix well, using a figure 8 action. Mix until the streaks are not visible.
    • Then pour the mixture into the chosen mould, using a moderate flow. If possible, pour down the side of the mould.
    • Allow the items to cure for 6-8 hours at room temperature before removing them from the moulds.
    Note: Acetone is required to clean your cups - use if sparingly on paper towel.



    Quote of the day..


    a job well begun
    is a job well done 
    (unknown)

    Images via The Design Files
    I wouldn't mind starting a new project in a space like this....

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Softie, why don't you?

    Image borrowed from One Red Robin

    Melbourne Craft Institution Meet me at Mike's has put out a call for softies!

    Why not check out these links to inspire you:

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Happy spring everyone :)


    Images by Ames

    We are well on our way into the gardening season, but you would not know it if you are using the weather as your guide. However, I went to visit a lovely friend this afternoon and noticed that there are signs of flowery life starting to appear all over the place. Not just in kept gardens - also on the nature strip. It made me smile.

    Keep the memory alive

    Image by Martha Stewart via Meet me at Mike's

    Time to display those special things that you hold close to your heart (or whatever you have around the house that is pretty)!

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    How to crochet a simple scarf

    I am still learning how to crochet and really enjoy it. Earlier this year, I ventured out from my granny squares to learn how to make crochet fabrics. I made a scarf for a local charity, which was really rewarding.

    To make a scarf, you must start with a row of foundation chain stitches. The number of chain depends on the desired width of the scarf - I think 30 to 40 works well. But some people like skinny scarfs and some people like wide ones. Once you have completed your foundation row of chain, you must work back along this line to create your first row. I used treble stitch in my scarf. From here on in, you make rows and rows of treble till you have the desired length. It is important to turn your work over at the end of each row so that the hook / row starts from the right-hand side and you work towards the left.

    So in a nutshell:

    • Foundation row - make a row of chain stitches (for example 30).
    • Row 1 - miss 3 chain and treble into the next. Treble stitch to the end of the row.
    • Turning stitch - it is important to work your last treble into the top of the last stitch of the previous row to anchor your work. Then make 3 chain, which will act a 'substitute' treble for the start of next row. Now turn your work over.
    • Row 2 - starting from the right side of your work, treble till the end of the row.
    • Additional rows - continue this pattern till you have the desired length of fabric for your scarf.
    • Fasten off - you will still have a working loop on your hook when you have finished the desired length of fabric. Remove the hook and cut the yarn. Draw the yarn through the loop and tighten.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Art in a resin bubble

    Using resin to encapsulate creativity...
    Concept and creation by Ames & Tash 2010

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Crochet is cathartic..

    Crochet is a fantastic past time. It is wonderful to be able to produce crafty homewares or fashion that can be appreciated.

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Japanese style bindings

    Japanese style bindings are easy if you know how to sew. Try grouping together some handmade paper or the like and stitching the spine in a style similar to those shown here.

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Surround yourself with books

    love these spaces (images from The Selby)

    Deconstruction / Reconstruction

    This is the conservator in me. I have always had mixed feelings about artists who reinvent books for the purpose of their craft. Is it sacrilegious? Is it art?
    But I have come around. What is the point of having books on the back of your bookshelf if you are never going to enjoy them? I say - deconstruct / reconstruct so that your books can be seen, used and enjoyed.
    This poor old book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne was hiding on my shelf. The binding was unstable, the covers detached. Sections were missing from the text block, pages discoloured and folded. Not to mention the pest damage.
    So I have given it new life. The detached covers were used to create a notebook that will now be loved. I have sewn the original covers to a new text block using double cords. Don't worry, the original pages will not be ignored. Not sure what I will do with them yet....



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