DIY Alert Blog
Cool Place Alert: Cool Cottons
If you're one of those people who collects and hoards beautiful fabrics, well . . . there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. But you could use another place to get your cloth fix, so check out cool cottons, at 24th and SE Hawthorne.
Cool cottons, as the name implies, is all about woven cottons in an astonishing rainbow array of prints. Quilters will find much to sigh over here, but these are also excellent cottons for bags, skirts, and home decor.
Oh - and also, a growing selection of high-quality canvases.
I absolutely love the atmosphere of this store. The space is a big old house, formerly used as an art gallery. There's lots of natural light streaming in through the windows (even on gray days), and room upon room of fabric bolts, arranged by color. You just wander and discover.
Nothing makes me happier than walls of color like this. Well, nothing except buying more fabric.
Cool cottons is also a great place for cool tools. For example, this Therm O Web Vinyl, which irons a waterproof coating to one side of your favorite fabric. Ooh! Lunch bags and totes and backpacks!
The store is co-owned by Pam Oakes and Marie Ritten, who met some years back while working as airline reservations agents. They would bring their quilt projects-in-progress to work with them, and chat about "Wouldn't it be great to own a fabric store?"
Well, now they do, and they love to share their passion for quilting. Many's the time that I've been in the store and watched them helping a customer choose just the right fabrics for a new quilt, spreading bolt after bolt out on this big table and eagerly discussing the pros and cons of each one. If you have questions about quilting, Pam and Marie are so friendly and helpful.
. . . Speaking of which, Marie once showed me an applique technique that changed my whole outlook on applique. So unbelievably simple, and such perfect results. Stop in and ask her about it. And tell her Sister Diane sent you.
PDX Profile: Shannon Buck, of Loaded Hips Press
I think Shannon Buck's prints have such a wonderful light, carefree quality. Which is really something when you consider the process by which they're made: the old, old technique of carving the image, backwards, into the surface of a printing block. You can see lots more at her business website, Loaded Hips Press - AND get a tarot reading, too.
What is it about old-fashioned printing methods like block-printing and letterpress that appeals to you? Every part of the process is hands on. It's easy to understand the mechanics of printmaking. The power's off and Im still printing! There is something simple and pure about it.
I also believe that art making doesn't have to be expensive. Basic tools can be found objects, a good press is a one-time expense, or using a communal print shop is even better, cans of ink that last forever, printing leaves from off the ground, this is what I'm into. There are some amazing things going on with digital art, but the process doesn't excite me.
How did you come to build a business around them? It was purely circumstantial. I started making the prints about 5 years ago while I was still in school. It was during summer vacation when everyone was out hiking and camping and having fun - I was in the print room like a crazy person but building up an inventory. I sold the prints locally in shops and at the Handmade Bazaar. I had such a positive response I couldnt stop making them! I'm sort of breaking some printmaking rules by not creating editions, but that's why I price them low. I never imagined I would still be printing them today.
It's fortuitous that this Handmade Cultural Revolution thing is going on, too, although I'm certain I was destined to follow this path in some form or another. My great grandfather in Germany was an amazing illustrator and draftsman. He was commissioned to make family crests and he designed puppet sets in his spare time. I feel like in some sense I'm passing that tradition on. Making a living off of it feels like luck. I feel lucky every day.
What inspires the images you draw and print? Postal cancellation stamps, flamenco dancers, old advertising illustrations, empty buildings, 19th century paintings, rich colors, the Great Northwest, faded signs, imperfections, unrealistic figures I'm always drawing or collecting ephemera and what inspires me is always evolving. There are always new characters in my head and I have to tell their stories, this is why I make art. It's an unresolved dilemma with my work, nothing ever looks the same.
Tell us about your Whirligirls, too! How did you get started making those? I collect old "how to" books, anything from furniture making to scrimshaw. The older the better this is where the best crafting ideas come from. I always thought of whirligigs as those ducks with the mad feet flapping in the wind. Then I came across a folk art book about whirligigs and whimmy diddles. Go ahead and say that out loud. I thought, "Cool - I can make this." I borrowed the construction design from the book, but I significantly altered the figures and made kitty cats and pirates and bathing beauties instead of the sailor in the book. The arm construction had to be improved, in fact I'm still repairing most of them. But I had a couple working and I showed them off to a friend in a coffee shop. These ladies were like "How adorable! Where can we buy them?"
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft"? I'm glad you asked this question. It feels like the two are merging more and more every day, or maybe they never should have been separated to begin with. I guess it's about who's buying and what's selling and who's representing you? In art school, there is so much pressure to push the envelope, and less time to fully develop technique. How can we push limits when we haven't yet grasped the basics? So maybe when I think of craft, I think of going back to the basics, and when you're really good at what you do, that's when you start to blow everyone's mind.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? The bus. The downtown public library. Sitting on the hill at Chapman Elementary School, dreaming about the swifts. Powell's bookstore. The Independent Publishing Resource Center those folks have been so wonderful to me.
Cool Place Alert: The IPRC
Let's do the acronym first: IPRC stands for Independent Publishing Resource Center. I think the IPRC is one of Portland's great creative resources. It's a space dedicated to self-publishing, art-making, and expression.
The IPRC has been around since 1998, offering the use of copiers, typewriters, computers, and more to creative Portlanders. To make use of all this bounty, you simply purchase an annual membership (at a sliding scale of $45 - $100), and attend one of the monthly orientation sessions.
Of course, the IPRC is also locally famous for its letterpress studio, which is usually busy with people turning out their own business cards, wedding invitations, stationery and such. As a member, you just sign up for one of the Center's wildly-popular letterpress printing workshops, and you'll be printing away.
Mmmmmmm . . . Letterpress . . . .
While we're on the subject of workshops, you should know that the IPRC offers a continuing schedule of interesting sessions. Here's a recent sampling from the winter calendar: Zines 101, Transfer Printing, Intro to Calligraphy, Intro to Web Design, Marketing Your Craft, and Beginning Bookbinding.
For those of you who are itching to learn the mysteries of Gocco printing, the Center offers periodic classes. (What's Gocco, you ask? Short answer: the coolest home screen-printing rig you ever saw.)
Here's another IPRC claim to fame: its vast library of over 5500 zines. Whether you're a member or not, you're welcome to come in and browse. Locals can even get an IPRC library card.
(In case you just said to yourself, "What's a zine?" here's a quick primer. A zine (rhymes with "keen") is a self-published booklet, made by a real person, about a subject that matters to them. Zines can be about anything under the sun, and they're fascinating reading.)
The IPRC is also a hub of community, providing meeting space to several ongoing groups, and giving workshops and presentations around town. When you look at all that activity, then consider this: the Center is run by a small, dedicated staff and an army of volunteers, and funded primarily by memberships and donations. Wow.
If you'd like to pay a visit, be sure to check out the open hours on the IPRC website. Or if you're inspired to become an IPRC volunteer, stop in and fill out an application.
PDX Profile: Erin and Jill Lynch, of Dolls For Friends
I squealed when I first laid eyes on Dolls For Friends - these cute and slightly-edgy little personalities practically climbed out of my computer to introduce themselves. They are designed and brought to life by Jill and Erin Lynch, who also run a design studio called eljl. I'd highly recommend a visit to the Dolls For Friends Etsy shop, where the product copy will have you giggling all day.
How did Dolls for Friends come into being? Jill and I had talked for quite a while on what we could do as a collaborative project. We always liked the idea of doing a project as a husband and wife design team, but the opportunity had never presented itself. Jill had started making little hand sewn dolls for herself and our kids as an alternative to a lot of the traditional, store bought products. We also had a hard time finding soft toys that we really liked in stores.
The rest was really just a very natural process. We started talking about putting together pieces as part of a project where we would create custom, handmade dolls in the likeness of individuals that we found to be inspiring from different media areas. These were people that we personally considered "doll worthy"; individuals that had inspiring personality traits that we admired. We wanted to create one of a kind art pieces that we could share with these individuals as a gift to say thanks for their inspiration.
After the first few pieces were completed, we started talking about doing other plush dolls that we could offer to everyone. It was an opportunity to create the types of dolls we wanted to make and that we thought other people would enjoy as well. We then started looking into craft shows, gallery submissions, an online presence, marketing and design. Essentially the building blocks for a brand new design team.
What kinds of things inspire your doll designs? And, how do the two of you collaborate? Comic books, children's books, humor in everyday life, overactive imaginations, wishing that we were as eccentric as our overactive imaginations, movies, cartoons, quirky senses of humor, street art, the amazing and intimidating talents that already exist in the art world, stuff like that and more. Too much to list.
It almost always starts at the sketchbook level. We draw then we look at each others stuff, talk about what we want to accomplish with the piece, whether it's worth making and how it should be made. The fun part starts when we start to dig through our massive collection of reclaimed and new fabrics, vintage buttons and accessories. Materials are selected and played with until the exact look and feel is achieved. The doll is then sewn and photographs are taken. We essentially work with each other and give each other input from beginning to end.
What would you say are three things that a doll needs to have in order to be really lovable? The expression and overall look of their face is right at the top of the list. So much of the actual "feel" of the piece is captured in the face. You can change the mood of the entire piece by how you handle the facial expressions and construction of each feature.
The next would be the shape and tactile feel of the body. Soft materials, squishy and huggable are major requirements for our pieces.
Third, the material selection and detail work of each doll. While we love the clean lines and feel of a line like Ugly Dolls (we own several), we also really like dolls that are layered and textured and are visually arresting. Just adding a few vintage buttons and some reclaimed material allows you to create something completely unique and special - a truly one of a kind piece, something that will be treasured because you know that you're doll is tailored to your personal tastes and that it's going to be the only one like that or one of very small line.
Do you have a favorite among the dolls you've created? Erin: For me I'm really in love with the Hanetori line. We've done three versions of our little winged bird, and they get better with each iteration. We have plans to do a large scale, completely custom version later this year for a gallery in New York that we were just approached by, and I can't wait to see how he turns out. We also have some more "creature" based plushies that we're putting together, which really speaks to me due to my love of anime and comic book culture.
Jill: I so appreciate Erin's love of the creature/monster style dolls, although I tend to be a little more girly and love the sweeties like the jellies, my big doll Fifi (which I have decided not to part with), and I love the Hanetori dolls! it's so hard to decide, and this may seem like a contradiction, but I really really loved the Pigmo dolls we've done so far. Wait a minute. Oh, I don't know. I really love them all. Each piece is so personal for me, and I have a definite attachment to each one. I love to look at them, pick them up and admire them. They're quickly taking over our studio space!
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?"
We had originally talked about answering this question separately, but after talking about it for a bit we discovered that our answers are in fact very close with one another. We don't necessarily think there is a difference between "Art" and "Craft". We think that one is a natural extension (or expression) of the other. When you start defining the difference between the two you begin to set one up as being better (the subject of high brow art vs. low brow art is a real pet peeve of ours), or more valuable, than the other. Which again, leads you to the question of "What is Art?". It's so subjective, but we view them to be two parts of the same whole. It's all creative expression.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? We really love the boutiques and custom toy stores (Missing Link, Oblation, Upper Playground, Compound Gallery, etc.) in Portland. There's a lot of local work in the shops that you can see and the abundance of creativity in this city is impressive.
The real creative spots, though, are out on the streets. We are huge fans of urban art, graffiti and public art display. There are so many talented individuals out there who inspire us with their body of work through spray paint, stickers, murals, stencils and installation. I know that many people view this type of work as more nuisance than anything else, but they fail to see the beauty and meaning in the work being produced. Street art is what helps to shape a city, to make it unique, and Portland has a strong community of writers who we admire.
PDX Profile: Karen Landey, of INDIE ARTS
It's amazing, how many innovative projects make their homes in Portland. One such is Indie Arts, which is a DVD magazine about art, creativity, life, and soul. It's the brainchild of Karen Landey, herself a local artist, and it's also great viewing. You can preview some of the content, and order single copies and subscriptions, over at the Indie Arts website.
Tell us about the DVD magazine format. How is it different from a print magazine? The DVD magazine grew from my desire to have a digital version of a paper magazine, which has all the convenience and versatility of a DVD that you can play on your DVD player and watch on your TV or computer DVD drive. I love the depth of information that you can get with the audio and visual medium of videotaped interviews - in a way that a print magazine can't capture. You see the artist's faces, hear their voices, and each interview is loaded with visuals of their artwork to give a very dimensional portrait of each artist. I also have a website that supports each DVD with a printable Viewing Guide which shows a photo, length and description of each segment, so you can jump right to the interview or feature you are most interested in. Of course, you can also watch the whole thing from beginning to end, sitting back in your recliner with your remote control.
One of the original impulses for doing the DVD magazine was to provide artists with alternatives to galleries for showing their artwork. So the Indie Arts idea really took off and grew, with published segments on how to set up a non-profit art center, a street gallery and a neighborhood art walk. I also ran a series on how to get published through self-published zines, how to approach a book publisher with a proposal, and what magazine editors look for. I also offer a digital art gallery, which is a slide show format set to music to showcase both emerging and established artists. The On-Location segments that I do in each issue have become an incredibly rich resource for Indie Arts because I have connected with so many heart-centered artists across the country.
How did you become inspired to start this project? For over four years, I was a full-time artist, showing in galleries, juried shows, street galleries and arts and craft shows. I also taught a number of classes and had my 15 minutes of fame on HGTV's Crafters Coast to Coast show in its very first season (its now called That's Clever), so my experience in the mixed media community is well-rounded. In addition, during my 10 years as an independent video producer, I found the medium to be the most creatively challenging and rewarding I had ever worked in. The technical aspects of video production require ultimate creativity to deal with the inevitable glitches that come up in every single shoot. And the infinitely dimensional aspect of video production using audio and moving imagery that can be manipulated in an endless number of ways is satisfying in a way that I find impossible to resist. I see so much of the same kind of artwork in the craft magazines and step-by-step craft books, and hear from many people they are hungry for something beyond what is currently being featured. My mantra is "Take it to the next level" and I thought this was the perfect way to take it to open a new horizon.
How do you go about finding people to profile in your DVD magazine?
At first, I contacted artists I was familiar with - either people I knew personally or through their published books. Once I got rolling and started traveling around the country doing interviews, I will now contact those artists and ask for referrals for my next destination. I will also go to the internet and Google artists in a particular area and will contact artists whose art really speaks to me, so I strive for a balance of different mediums and techniques.
What do you hope people gain from the experience of watching your DVDs? I hope that people will be inspired by the stories that each artist tells of their love of the creative process and their determination to succeed despite the inevitable obstacles. This is not an easy path to take and artists will tell you that theirs was not a straight line career path, but a series of challenges that only made them more determined to succeed.
What makes me the happiest is to hear people say, "I was so inspired that I took out my old art supplies and started working again in a whole new way." I hope to inspire people with the stories of courage and determination that are behind all artists who are not afraid of listening to their hearts and following their dreams.
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" I think ART is anything that comes from the heart. When I am talking to people on the street about my DVD magazine and they say, "I'm not an artist," I will ask politely if there is anything they love to do. Everyone says YES to something and I tell them that if they love what they do, then they are an artist whether they are cooking, taking care of children, sewing, or woodworking. I see CRAFT as something that requires skill, but still hasn't developed that unique voice that can only come from speaking through the heart. This is the life work of an artist.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? I love to walk around the streets and wander into odd shops or sit on a bench and observe. I get my creative juice by watching people, catching odd fragments of conversations, finding a strange scrap of ephemera that once had its own life, but now in my hands it will find new life as I weave these into my artwork. Everything is interesting to me and by watching and listening with a quiet mind, I can be inspired by the most mundane activities.
How to Make a Fabric Book
Here's a whole new spin on book and zine-making: make 'em from fabric instead of paper! Here's a simple method:
First, choose some fabric. This project works best for woven fabrics. You can use solids or prints, and you can use several different fabrics in the same book.
Next, decide what size you want your finished book to be. Cut yourself a template from lightweight cardstock. It should be the same size as your book would be if it were opened flat.
Then, trace this template onto several pieces of fabric, and cut them out. (You can use between three and eight pieces of fabric for this method.)
Easier-way instructions: If you own a rotary cutter, then just cut yourself a series of fabric rectangles, all the same size. And watch your fingers.
Now, let's talk a bit about your fabric choice. If you're using a fabric that has the same appearance on both sides, then your pages will all look the same. If your fabric has a distinct "right side" and "wrong side," then some of your book pages will be showing that "wrong side." If you like, you could fuse your rectangles together back-to-back, so only the "right side" shows. This tutorial shows you how to fuse.
Once you have your fabrics as you like them, stack those rectangles up as shown here.
Fold this stack of rectangles in half, and press them with a steam iron.
. . . .This creates a helpful crease where the spine of your book will be.
You'll want to sew along this crease line in order to bind your book together. The easiest way is to stitch it up with a sewing machine, but you can also do it by hand. If you're stitching by hand, a simple running stitch or backstitch work well.
And voila! This puppy is a blank canvas, practically begging for embellishment. Consider these ideas:
- You could embroider on the pages before binding, and then fuse them together back-to-back, to hide the backsides of your embroidery.
- You could draw on the pages with puff paints. (Just be sure to allow lots of drying-time!)
- You could write on the pages with paint pens.
- You could stitch or glue paper ephemera to the pages.
- You could sew beads or sequins to the pages.
- You could fuse cuts-outs from other fabrics to the pages.
I think the fabric book has great potential as a children's picture book, or an art journal. Have fun!
Cool Place Alert: Mail Art at Central Library
A really cool art show has just opened at Central Library in downtown Portland. It's a Mail Art show. What is Mail Art, you ask? Well . . . .
Mail Art is any piece of art that uses the Postal Service as part of its creation. It can take lots of forms - postcards, zines, letters, artistamps and more. The artist then mails these pieces of art to other artists, and the postage and Post Office markings become part of the piece.
The history of Mail Art is fascinating. I'd highly recommend a visit to its Wikipedia Entry.
But, back to our local library. Leslie Waygren, a member of the Central Library staff, is also an active Mail Artist, exchanging pieces of art with people all over the world. She came up with the idea of curating a show of Mail Art around the theme of "Library," and then put out an open call for entries. Anyone was welcome to create a postcard and mail it in.
(That's another hallmark of Mail Art, by the way - it's thoroughly democratic. You don't need any formal training or a gallery to be a Mail Artist. Just make something and mail it!)
Leslie received nearly 100 postcards for the show: about a third of them are from Portlanders, and another third from the rest of the U.S. The remaining third came from other countries, bearing all kinds of interesting postmarks.
"The message that seemed to resonate with the Library theme, was how much people love reading, love books, and love the library," says Leslie. "As a library worker, it's really great to hear how much people appreciate the work that we do; and to have that sentiment expressed as art is fabulous."
The diversity of all these postcards expressing "Library" is fascinating. You'll see art about the importance of children reading, and political art, and lists of favorite books, and personal stories of how libraries have affected the artists' lives.
Because the show is so large, Central Library will display half of the postcards for the first half of January, and then re-fill the display cases with the other half for the rest of the month. Or, if you aren't near Central, you can view the whole show online.
To see the show in person, just head for the main floor of Central Library, and look for the two display cases to the left of the grand staircase.
Holiday Project: Celebration Candle
This week's project will be familiar to some of you, but it sure is perfect for this week between Christmas and New Year's. It's based on an idea which exists in many spiritual traditions: that lighting a candle for someone or something you love gives it special reverence. So this candle is covered with reminders of your favorite people, places, and things. Make one to ring in 2008!
So first, get yourself a pillar candle. I like to use white or off-white ones, but if you prefer colors, knock yourself out. And then, go through all your old magazines and precious bits of paper and cut out a lot of images and words that have significance to you.
You can use photographs on your candle, but Id recommend that you make color photocopies of them for this project. We're going to decoupage here, and photos tend to be too thick to decoupage well.
Now, we'll be gluing all these images and words to the sides of your candle. Mod Podge is excellent for this - and I like to use the glossy-finish version. But, if you have no Mod-Podge, no worries. Use good old-fashioned Elmer's Glue instead.
Just spread some glue onto the candle, and press your cut-out into the glue. After that, I like to spread a little more glue on top of the cut-out, to make sure all the edges lie flat.
You'll want to cover just a section of the candle at a time, and then leave it alone to dry for 20 minutes or so before moving on. Here's a good trick: take two ordinary pencils, Tape them down to your work surface, parallel to each other, and about 2" apart. Set your candle on its side, between the two pencils, and it won't roll around.
Once you've glued nice things all the way around your candle, and it's had about 20 minutes to dry, then take that same Mod Podge (or glue) and spread a fairly thick coat all over your work, to seal all those cut-outs in place.
(By the way, this sponge brush I'm using here is great for decoupage, but if you don't have one, a regular paint brush works fine. Heck, if worse comes to worse, so will your fingers!
Okay, now leave your candle alone for a couple hours to dry again.
. . . And then, if you like, you can glue on some glitter, or add sparkly things here and there. Just dab on some more glue, and stick 'em down. Then let 'em dry.
A little safety note:
Youll want to burn your candle so that you dont end up damaging the collage youve so carefully built on the outside. So, the first time you light it, watch it carefully. When its burned down to the point where theres a good-sized well in the center, blow out the candle. After it cools, trim the wick all the way down to the wax. Then, insert a tealight candle into this well, and burn that instead. Now your celebration candle will last forever! And, as they say . . . never leave a burning candle unattended.
Holiday Project: Salt Dough Cookie Ornaments
If you have some bored kids hanging around the house this week, or some hard-to-entertain family in from out of town, this project provides hours of fun . . . not to mention, cute ornaments you can hang on your tree or give as gifts.
You'll need to make up a batch of Salt Dough for this project. It couldn't be simpler to make. Start by mixing these three ingredients in a large bowl:
2 cups Flour
2 cups Salt
1 cup Water
Begin by stirring this mixture, and when it becomes to firm to stir, then knead it a bit with your hands. The resulting dough should feel moist and smooth, but not stick to your hands. (Knead in a tiny bit more flour if it's sticking to your hands.)
. . . And if you like, take some smaller balls of this dough and color them with food coloring. If the food coloring makes the dough a little too sticky, just knead in a tiny bit more flour.
(Note: if you don't like the food coloring approach, then you can always paint your ornaments after you bake them.)
I recommend that you store the dough in an airtight container, so it won't dry out.
Now, get a cookie sheet, and your favorite holiday cookie cutters. And also, you'll need something to roll out your dough with. You can use your rolling pin, but since we'll be working on our cookie sheet, you might want to use something smaller, like a straight-sided bottle, like I'm using here.
Roll some dough out to a 1/4" thickness. We're going to make our ornament on the cookie sheet, so roll this dough out on the sheet, right where you want the finished cookie to be.
Press a cookie cutter into the dough.
. . . And then, pull away all the dough from around the cutter. You can re-roll this to make new ornaments, over and over. Then, remove the cutter.
Now you can decorate your ornament however you like. The salt dough sticks to itself beautifully, so you can press different colors of dough onto your cut-out.
You can also embellish by embossing details into the dough. Toothpicks are great tools for this . . .
. . . Or, you can use a table knife to incise lines in the dough.
Feel free to use any color of dough for the base of your ornament, and embellish it with any color.
If you roll your dough thinner, like 1/8", then you can stack cut-outs of different colors onto each other. (Your finished ornaments should be no more than 1/4" thick.)
As a last step, make a hole in the top of your ornament, for hanging. You can use a drinking straw for this, as shown here . . . .
. . . Or, a toothpick, as shown here. (Just make sure to twirl that toothpick around a little, so your hole is large enough for a bit of ribbon to pass through.)
Make as many ornaments as you like on the cookie sheet. And preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
Bake your ornaments until they are hard. The baking time will vary, but start with 20 minutes, and then keep checking them every 10 minutes after that. They're done when they feel hard all over, but don't let them get brown.
(Note: I have teflon fingers, so I test my ornaments by poking them. Don't you do this - you could burn yourself. Poke yours with a toothpick instead.)
After your ornaments have cooled, seal them all over with some varnish. I like the spray-on kind best for this salt dough. Water-based, brush-on varnish has a tendency to re-soften the surface of your ornament.
And as I mentioned before, at this stage, you can also paint your ornament, or add some glitter, if you like.
When the varnish is dry, poke a 6" piece of narrow ribbon through the hole in the top of each ornament, and tie the ends in a knot. Now they're tree-ready!
Holiday Project: Recycling Wrap
I'm one of those people who carefully save the wrapping paper from every gift I receive. I always have good intentions of re-using it to wrap future gifts . . . but the reality is, this saved paper is often kind of dinged-up, torn, and wrinkled. Not really usable except for very small gifts.
And so, I finally devised this little project. It's a nice way to use up all those pieces of leftover wrap. By cutting them into strips and weaving them, you can hide all the little rips and wrinkles, and you end up creating something very pretty. So here you go!
Start by finding a flat, clean work-surface. You can make as large a piece of woven wrap as you like - it just depends on having a work-surface large enough.
Then, collect some pieces of wrapping paper, and cut them into strips. I think the finished product is nicest if each of the wraps you use has a strong color-presence. I'm using 1 1/2"-wide strips here, but feel free to use any width you like. (Boy, is a paper cutter your friend here.)
The length of your strips, of course, determines how large your finished sheet of wrap will be. If you need to, you can tape your strips together end-to-end with some clear tape to make them longer.
Think of it this way: how wide do you need your finished sheet of wrap to be? Make the strips that will weave horizontally that same measurement. How long do you need your sheet to be? Make the strips that will weave vertically that same measurement.
Okay, next, take the vertical strips and lay them out side by side on your work-surface. I'm using two different papers here and alternating them, but maybe you want them to be all the same. Up to you.
When you have these strips the way you like them, you'll want to gently tape them down so they won't move around. For this, I use small pieces of masking tape, but I put my fingers all over the adhesive first, so they're less sticky. (Or, if you have some drafting tape, use that.) See how lightly I'm sticking the tape down? You don't want to be too firm here, because you don't want to rip the paper later when you pull these pieces up.
You're all taped down and set to weave now. See how I used one bit of tape between every two strips? That works well.
Time to weave! Take one of your horizontal strips. Start at the bottom, and weave it over and under, and over and under, the vertical strips. Just think back to Scout Camp. Or grade school.
Now, slide that strip all the way up to the top, where your masking tape is. Make sure the strip is centered side-to-side, and snug against the top.
Weave a second strip, starting at the bottom and sliding it to nestle right under the first strip. Weave this one opposite to the first, under and over, under and over.
Keep going, and each time you add a new strip, just make sure it's nice and snug under the previous one. You don't want any gaps between strips.
When you don't have space to weave in any more strips, you're done!
TIme to secure the edges. The first thing I do is secure the two vertical sides of the sheet. I put a tab of clear tape at the end of each horizontal strip . . . .
. . . And wrap that tape around to the back. Do this for every horizontal strip, along both sides of your sheet.
Then, very carefully, pull up that masking tape so you can liberate your sheet from the work-surface. Carefully turn it over. We'll do the rest of our securing on the back.
If you have any tabs of paper sticking up along the edges here on the back, go ahead and tape them down. And if you've woven a fairly large sheet, you might also want to apply some little pieces of tape here and there around the back of the sheet, placing them over the junctions between four strips.
With your paper thus secured, you're ready to wrap something with it. And be sure to use some ribbon you saved from last year's gifts!
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