DIY Alert Blog
Holiday Project: Ric Rac Ornament
I dearly love ric rac, and this project turns it into cute little stars which bedeck a decoration for your tree. I started with a styrofoam ball, painted with a couple coats of acrylic craft paint.
To make five-pointed ric rac stars, you'll need a piece of ric rac like this one. Take a look at the little peaks in the ric rac. There are six of them in this piece. Cut yours just like this.
Fold this piece in half, matching up the peaks and valleys in the ric rac.
Now, thread up a sewing needle. Sew a seam of tiny stitches across the ric rac. See how I began at the bottom of the peak and sewed toward the top? That's exactly how to do it -- the direction you've sewn will become important in a minute. Oh, and at the end of your little seam, do not tie off or cut your thread.
Also, a little note here. I'm using contrasting thread for better visibility. You'll want to use matching thread.
Now, open your ric rac out into a circle, like this.
With the thread still attached to the end of your first little seam, now take your needle and make a tiny stitch in the next peak of the ric rac. The thread will string itself between the two peaks, which is exactly what you want.
Keep going, taking a tiny stitch at each peak in the ric rac. Work your way all the way back around to your original seam.
. . . And when you get there, pass your needle back through, as shown here.
Now, pull your thread tight. This will gather the ric rac up.
Take one last stitch through your original seam, as shown. Go ahead and tie off your thread here, and cut it.
You may also want to trim the seam-allowance of your original seam a bit. It should be about 1/4" or so.
Flip your ric rac star over to the front. It won't look much like a star at first . . . .
. . . Until you start poking your index finger into each of the points from behind. This will flip the point so it faces upward. Work your way around and do the same to all five points.
When you're done, you'll have a perfect little star!
You can attach the stars to your styrofoam ball simply by sticking a glass-head pin through the center. Stick them on in any pattern you like.
You can make a little hanger the same way. Just cut a length of ric rac, form it into a circle, and stick a pin through the spot where the two ends overlap. And you're done!
Keep in mind, you can also sew these ric rac stars to any fabric project, and even stitch a little bead or sequin in the center. And you can experiment with longer pieces of ric rac, so you end up with six, seven, or more points. Too much fun!
Holiday Project: Pinecone Bird Feeder
This one is an oldie but a goodie. It's a wonderful afternoon project to do with kids, and a nice gift for your neighborhood birds.
First, cover your work surface with newspaper. If you're worried about getting peanut butter in your carpet, then don't work over a carpeted floor.
Gather a bunch of pinecones. You can use any size you like. Some craft stores sell them, but I'd be careful of these - often, they've been soaked in fragrance oils, and this isn't so healthy for birds.
If your pinecones aren't very open, then you can put them in a warm oven (250 degrees) for a while to open them up. If you do this, be sure you have good ventilation as the scent of baking pine cone may not be your cup of tea.
I like to use pipecleaners to make a little hanger for my pine cone. Just wrap the pipecleaner snugly around the top of the pine cone, and twist the ends together a little. If you're fresh out of pipecleaners, you can just tie a length of yarn tightly around the top of the pine cone.
Now, load up a spatula with peanut butter.
Push as much peanut butter as you can into your pine cone, filling all those little spaces between scales.
Work your way around the pine cone until you've covered it in peanut butter.
Next, pour some birdseed into a shallow dish. Roll your pine cone through the birdseed, pressing firmly so you embed lots of seed into that peanut butter.
Make as many of these as you like. (Pie plates are handy for resting your finished feeders in, so they won't get oil on anything.) If possible, I like to let them sit out overnight, so the peanut butter can harden a little bit.
Now, take your feeders outside, and find a nice tree with strong branches. To hang your feeder, just twist the ends of the pipecleaner around the tree branch.
. . . Then stand back and wait for the feeding frenzy!
Holiday Childrens' Portraits
A bit of nepotism . . .
If you have little ones, and you need Holiday portraits of them, my parents are doing three days of drop-in photography at their studio. They've decorated a really cute little set, and for just $25.00, you can walk away with a CD of images to use in your scrapbooking or card-making projects.
All the dates, times, and other details are over here.
Holiday Project: Fused Fabric Greeting Cards
Fusible Webbing is a wonder-product found in the quilting section of your local craft store. It's the perfect stuff for bonding fabric to paper to make these cute greeting cards. You can make them to send, or make up some sets to give as gifts.
Here's what the package looks like for one popular brand of fusible webbing. I get this at Fabric Depot, but have also seen it at Jo-Ann stores. You'll also need some blank cards, and an assortment of lightweight cotton fabric in colors and patterns you like.
Next, you'll want to decide what shapes to cut from your fabric. Cookie cutters are an excellent tool for this - you just trace around them!
Pull a sheet of fusible webbing from the package. It has a paper backing on both sides. Trace your shape onto one of them, using a pencil or a fine-point marker.
. . . And then cut a block out of the webbing sheet, around that shape you just traced.
Let's take a closer look at that webbing now. Sandwiched in between those paper layers is a layer of the webbing itself -- it's basically a glue-mesh. It's lightly sticky.
Carefully peel away the paper backing that you did not trace on, so you're left with that webbing stuck to the paper backing with your tracing on it.
Now, take your fabric and lay it onto your work surface, with the wrong side facing you. Place your piece of webbing onto the fabric. That glue-mesh is now touching the wrong side of your fabric. Press it down gently with your fingers so it will stick.
Then, cut the shape out of the fabric and the webbing together.
Peel away the remaining paper backing. Now you have a fabric cut-out with the glue-mesh stuck to the back. You've essentially created a fabric sticker!
Place this onto the front of your card. You can peel it up and re-position it as you need to.
If you like, you can use the same steps to add some smaller fabric accents to your card. These red pieces have glue-mesh on the back, too.
When you have the whole thing positioned as you like it, cover it with a pressing cloth. (A pressing cloth can be an old dish towel, or a big piece of scrap fabric.)
Heat your iron according to the package directions for the brand of webbing you're using. Press the hot iron over the card. This will melt the glue mesh and fuse the fabrics to the paper.
Be sure to press down with your iron rather than moving it around on the pressing cloth. Moving the iron around can cause the webbing to ooze out from under the fabric, and this gets messy.
Voila! Your card is fused and ready for embellishment. See how the iron has warped the card a little? This will sometimes happen -- although the heavier your cardstock, the less warping. Put your card under some heavy books for a few hours, and it'll be fine.
Here's a little something to consider when designing your cards: if you have a design that you want to have face a particular direction . . .
. . . then you'll need to trace it "backwards" onto the fusible webbing sheet.
Now, you can have a ball embellishing your card. Puff paint is fun, because it creates shiny raised surfaces on your card. (Make sure you give it lots and lots of drying-time, though!)
It's also fun to run these cards through your sewing machine. A little decorative stitching looks really cute!
And keep in mind, you can also use fusible webbing to cover your entire card with fabric, and then stitch and glue on all kinds of details. I did some topstitching in two colors on this one, and then glued on some sequins.
And of course, there are always things like buttons, flat-backed gems, ric rac, and glitter. If you have some wide ribbon, you can even fuse that to your cards - just cut that fusible webbing into strips and attach it to the ribbon.
. . . So many possibilities!
Holiday Project: Yarn Stars
I saw these in a funky 1970's craft book, and thought they had great potential. This project is a great way to use up bits of leftover yarn, and these little stars look cute on a tree, wreath, or package.
First, you'll need a piece of cardboard to wind your yarn around. I'm using one here that measures 4 1/4" high -- it's an old postcard. But, feel free to use any size cardboard you like. Different sizes of cardboard lead to different sized stars.
Now, wind your yarn around this cardboard until you have good coverage, like you see here. I wound my yarn 60 times, but don't worry about being too precise here.
Next, carefully pull that wound yarn off the cardboard, being careful to maintain its new looped shape. And then, cut yourself a piece of yarn in the same color, about 6" - 8" in length.
. . . And not surprisingly, the next step is to fan all those loops out in a circle around the center.
Next, carefully divide the loops up into five fairly equal parts. These will be the points of your star, so it pays to take a little time and make them as even as possible.
Now cut yourself five pieces of yarn in a contrasting color: four of them should measure about 6" in length. The fifth one should measure about 12".
Start with the 6" pieces of contrasting yarn. Tie one around the bottom of each of the sections of yarn loops you made earlier. Try to position your tie so it's about 1/2" from the ends of the loops. Tie a nice, tight double knot.
Now, for that last bunch of loops, you'll use the 12" piece of yarn to tie it, and you can build in a hanging loop at the same time. First, make a loop in the center of this piece of yarn, and tie a secure knot.
Position that loop behind your star, and then use the rest of the strand to tie off the fifth end of your star, just like you did the other four.
And you're done! You might choose to leave the little loops at the tops of your star uncut . . .
. . . Or you might choose to clip and groom them. Up to you.
- You might embellish your star with a bit of felt, or some sequins or beads, as pictured above.
- Stars come in 5-point, 6-point, and 8-point varieties. This same technique will work for all kinds of different stars.
- You might want to put more than one strand of yarn together when you do your wrapping. Maybe a little metallic, maybe a little something fuzzy . . . Experiment!
Cool Place Alert: The Newly-Reborn DIY Lounge, at Collage
DIY Lounge has always been a wonderful place. Imagine a room filled with all kinds of craft supplies, where on any given day, people are learning to embroider, crochet, make bath salts, or paint with wax. The creative energy is just amazing!
Jen Neitzel, herself an avid maker, started the DIY Lounge in 2005. She saw a need in the community for a place where people could learn a wide variety of DIY skills, without spending a fortune. And she saw the kind of community connections that formed from people sharing their knowledge with each other. (DIY Lounge is always open to new teachers. If you're interested in teaching, just contact Jen.)
Earlier this year, Jen and Maria Raleigh (proprietress of Collage) joined forces, relocating the Lounge to the spacious classroom at the back of that most-excellent store. And just recently, the two have been hard at work on giving the space a nice makeover. With fresh new paint, lots of light, and easy-access storage for all those supplies, the Lounge is now a seriously Cadillac environment for learning stuff.
If you haven't before, be sure and check out the DIY Lounge calendar of upcoming classes, because there are so many great holiday-making ones coming up! For instance:
DIY Lounge and Collage are also putting on a little shindig on Wednesday, November 14 to celebrate their new space, and all the crafty goodness that goes on there. Stop by and you can enjoy refreshments, music by DJ Richard Rockstar, lots of raffle prizes, and 20% off everything in Collage. Woo!
PDX Profile: Lee Meredith, One Creative Recycler
I met Lee over the internet, when she launched her most-excellent craft zine, Do Stuff! And then she moved to Portland - Woo! Lee can turn an old sweater or T-shirt into things it never dreamed it could be, and she's pretty famous on the web for her Monster Hats. See more great stuff at her website.
How did you get started crafting with recycled materials? I have memories of using things found around the house in my crafting as a little kid - toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, scraps of this and that - so I guess I've been doing it since the beginning. I've always had this feeling that crafting should cost as little money as possible, so using recycled materials has been a way of keeping it cheap.
I started sewing with recycled fabrics (sweaters, t-shirts, sheets, etc) just in the last year or two. I am a self-taught sewer and still really don't know what I'm doing, so I kind of didn't know that I could run t-shirts and sweaters through my machine until I started seeing other people doing it. Crafting is about creating something original, and using things that were discarded by a previous owner adds to that uniqueness of the final product. I love that my items have a deeper history; knowing that a hat used to be a sweater that belonged to some stranger somewhere, and now someone on the other side of the country who bought it from me is giving it a whole new life.
And then there is the important added bonus that I'm saving these items from ending up in a landfill! I just read a horrible statistic that Goodwill spends between $24,000 and $30,000 in landfill bills each week, which makes me want to head down to The Bins and buy up everything that i could possibly use, just to save it. If every crafter in the country started using primarily thrifted materials, it seems like it could make a nice impact.
Okay. Monster hats! Where did the inspiration for these come from? I am lucky to have creative friends! I never would have thought of them on my own. So, my old best friend Abe went to a craft show and bought a plain black crocheted hat with dead monster eyes. We thought it totally rocked, but he requested a variation for his birthday - the same type of thing but with teeth! I wasn't sure how that was gonna work, but I said I'd try. So I added the ears, and there was my first monster hat! I had a few more custom orders from friends for the same style, knit hats with the dead eyes, but for my store I try to make the eyes all different, so I'm not copying the original dead eye hat creator.
And now all my monster hats are made from sweaters or sweatshirts instead of knit. The process of making each hat usually starts with choosing a fabric and sewing up the hat shape, then deciding what kind of eyes to add on; I never really have a vision for what the monster/creature will look like, they kind of take on their own personality.
What kinds of things inspire your work in general? Hmmmm... I think other crafters' works are my biggest inspiration. Ideas usually just come to me, seemingly out of nowhere, but I think it's all a result of reading crafty blogs and seeing creative types walking around town and stuff. I get inspiration from books and magazines too, definitely. And just from working with the materials - I'll have a vague idea, then find the right sweater or whatever and it will evolve into something new. And my choices have a lot to do with my silly sense of humor. There is a lot of beautiful work being made by skilled, experienced crafters; I, with my lack of training and patience for details, try to make my stuff fun and funny enough to make up for any minor flaws in craftsmanship.
What would you say is the biggest challenge of working with recycled stuff? Well, one major challenge would be that you are very limited - one sweater only gives you so much fabric and once it's gone, it's gone. For me though, I make small items (hats take the most fabric of anything I make) and I want everything to be unique, so I don't want to make more than a few items with from the same sweater. I think my biggest challenge only occurs when I have a vision for a specific item, and I need to find just the right thrifted fabric/piece of clothing, and it might be a pretty common thing that I need, but when that's the one thing I'm looking for I can never find it.
What is your take on the difference between "art" and "craft?" They completely blend together for me. I see any crafted item that is unique, that the creator put her/his own perspective on, as art, as well as craft of course. The whole subject of art vs. craft just seems a little silly to me; an object is what it is, regardless of what label it may or may not be given, so what's the harm in letting the terms overlap? I cannot understand anyone who refuses to acknowledge a craft work as art just because it's using craft techniques.
What are your favorite creative spots so far in Portland? For materials, I absolutely love SCRAP, Knittn Kitten, and The Bins. Each of those three is better than every other craft supply store in every other city I've lived in combined! I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I think it's true... Portland is such an amazingly creative city, I feel creative inspiration just being out around town - in coffee shops, bookstores, walking down the street!
Holiday Project: Shiny Metal Light Collars
Whether you use them at Holiday time or all year long, these mini-light collars are simple to make, and they make a beautiful, sparkling display. Never throw out the metal cups from your tealight candles again!
What Youll Need:
- One string of mini-lights. White light is nice, because it allows you to see all the colors in your finished collars.
- Metal cups from used-up tealights. Youll need one for every light there is on your light string.
- Sharpie marker.
- Scissors. These should not be your expensive scissors, by the way.
- Paper hole punch. You need one that makes a hole at least 3/8 diameter. An old-fashioned paper punch will work better than a craft-punch for this project. And your punch should be pretty heavy-duty.
- Glue. Use a glue for non-porous surfaces, like E6000 or Aleenes Jewel-It.
- Shiny things, such as glitter, flat-backed gems, beads, sequins, etc.
A word of caution!!! Were working with metal here, and metal can be sharp when cut. So, be very careful when handling the tealight cups, and you might consider wearing protective gloves. Children should do this project with a parent.
How to make it:
1. Make sure your tealight cups are clean. If theres some residual wax clinging to them, pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes. The wax will shrink and pop right off. (Thanks, Martha.)
2. Hold a tealight cup so the bottom is facing away from you, and youre looking at the top edge. Use a Sharpie to divide the edge up into equal (or sort of equal) sections. Make a little mark on the rim of the tealight cut for each section. Depending on your design, you might make five, six, seven, eight, or more divisions.
3. Take your scissors and cut into the side of the tealight cup at each of your dividing marks. Cut all the way down to the bottom of the cup.
4. Now, you have a tealight cup with spokes cut into it. Carefully bend each spoke outward, so your tealight cup begins to resemble a starburst. (Again, be very careful of the edges!)
5. Using your hole punch, make a hole in the center of your flower. Youll probably have to bend a couple petals out of shape in order to manuver the punch into the center, but dont worry. You can fix them afterward. The hole youre punching is where the mini-light bulb will stick through later.
6. Using your scissors, carefully shape your spokes into whatever petal design you like. They can be round, or pointed, or notched you name it.
7. Now, have fun gluing all kinds of shiny objects to the center of your flower, around the hole you just punched. Go wild with colors and patterns. The shinier your center, the more light will reflect from the mini-light bulb and the brighter your collar will be.
8. Repeat this process until you have a collar for every mini-light on your string.
9. Pop a collar onto each mini-light, and use the string to brighten up anything you like.
You can use a string of these lights on a large houseplant or tree. You can use them to line a picture frame, or use them to line a dressing-table mirror for maximum glamour. Use them at the edge of a shelf. String them around a lamp base.
Or, leave off the minilights and find other uses. Wouldnt they look great on top of a birthday cake, with a little candle in the center of each one?
You can always skip the hole-punching part, and use this process to make metal flowers with solid centers. Then you can glue them to all kinds of things, such as candles, gift boxes, frames, vases, baskets you name it!
PDX Profile: Julia Garretson, Sustainable Artist
I first saw Julia's work in the Trillium Artisans Store -- she had these amazing earrings, made from pieces of bicycle tire. Who knew bike tires had cool jewelry in them? Julia is a wizard with using reclaimed materials to make beautiful things. Check out her Etsy shop and Lov.li store.
How did you come to start your business? I have been making stuff since I was very small. Then, sometime about 6 years ago, I had so much stuff that I had made that I did a farmer's market to sell some of it off. I liked selling what I made very much. It was so enjoyable to me that I left college in order to pursue an independent business in making things. I went back to school at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and learned some business acumen, and here I am now. I have a business in which I make paper and jewelry as well as commissions for larger work.
On your Etsy shop, you state that your goal is to work sustainably as an artist. What does this involve? I feel that working sustainably as an artist means using a lot of recycled materials, thinking about the whole life of the object that I am making, and working to sustain my business with out having to do other work.
My paper is made out of all recycled materials. I use blue jeans, egg cartons, t-shirts and junk mail, as well as broccoli stalks, cornhusks, and onion skins, etc. I do not use any dyes, or fillers in my paper so it is easy to recycle again. For my jewelry I use reclaimed copper, soda cans, and bike tires combined with glass and silver.
By using materials that have already had one life and giving them another life, I can cut down on raw materials that are processed just once. Therefore the energy embodied in the piece is twofold, and not disposed of as trash. The pursuit of art is really a way for me to make a living without having to cater to a job in which more trash is produced and more chemicals are used. I enjoy using things that I have made, doing it yourself is very sustainable.
Will you tell us about your bicycle tire earrings? How did you come to see bike tires as a jewelry material? I had a bike tire that popped and I kept it in my supply pile for a while. Then I was inspired by the texture. It feels great against the skin, I was surprized to find out. So I started playing around with bits and pieces of it. I see lots of trash as good materials. What is jewelry other than a way to express yourself? I am a recycler; I should express that through my jewelry choices.
What kinds of things inspire your work? I am inspired by nature, leaves, pods, twigs, rocks. I am also inspired by functional items and by free trash.
What is your take on the difference between "Art" and "Craft" I think that the diference between art and craft is the mark of the hand. I feel that crafts have a definite mark of the maker on them. I have a very high standard of craft; the piece needs to be made well. Art can be interpreted more loosely. A print can be art, a photo, a bowl, or art can be made by the sun going down on the mountain, the leaves down the brook. Some craft can be art, but not all art is good craft.
Some of my definition of craft carries my own bias toward function. I am more likely to feel good craft in a functional piece of work. Whereas the function of art can be seen and experienced, it is less likely to be felt.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? I enjoy the Arboretum in Washington Park. I also think that the Park Blocks are very interesting -- at different times of day there are different people along them, different trash, and there are sculptures there.
PDX Profile: Anitra Cameron, and her Coffee Pot People
As a child, I fervently believed that all my toys came to life at night while I was asleep. And so I love Anitra Cameron's work. She takes ordinary things -- like coffee pots, serving trays, baking pans and such -- and assembles them into characters. Who look like they're fondly remembering the adventures they had last night while you were sleeping. You can see more of Anitra's work at her Etsy Shop, and locally, you can find her China Blossoms at the Trillium Artisans Store.
Tell us how you first became inspired to find personalities in teapots. It all began at an estate sale. I picked up a coffee pot, which for some reason was upside down, and for the first time, saw what an obvious nose the spout was. I bought it, took it home, and made the first Coffee Pot Person, Pierre. He's still with me, sitting in my shop watching over everything. Teapots came later, as a natural progression.
When you're making a Coffee Pot Person, do you know ahead of time what it will look like, or does the character emerge as you're working? It can work both ways. Usually, some piece of something will inspire me. I'll think, "What a great hat that would make!" or "Wouldn't that be perfect for a dress?" and then I start stacking things up. I have a whole cabinet full of coffee pots, and sometimes I'll have to try five or six of them before finding the right head. It's funny, because there's a certain point at which the Coffee Pot People seem to take over for themselves, and while they can't select their parts, they sure are good at telling me whether I've got it right or not.
Then, when I've got all the pieces assembled and have painted on the face, I set them up where we can look at each other. Eventually, they'll tell me who they arethe name, career choices, history, that sort of thing. Coffee Pot People come with a laminated tag that has his or her name and personality profile on it.
I'm not really saying I hear voices in my head .
I imagine your studio as being filled with assorted pottery and bits of this and that, waiting to be transformed. Is that what it's like? How do you manage to stay organized? That's exactly what it's like! There's this ADD part of me that's afraid to actually put anything away, for fear I'll forget it, so nearly all the shelves are open. I start out organized, and tell myself not to add anything to the mass, not until more Coffee Pot People and Tea Kettle Characters are finished, but some things are just too perfect not to have, and it kind of can add up and...well, I did say I start out organized.
One of the things I like to do in my shop is stack things so they're already something, usually a face. If you look closely at the shelves, you'll see eyes, noses, sometimes somebody sticking out a tongue. It makes me smile to walk in and look around.
What kinds of things inspire your work? There's a quotation I like, "The journey lies not in seeing new places, but in having new eyes." Sometimes the materials make me feel like I have new eyes -- when two jell-o molds suddenly become a perfect 1940's hairstyle, for instance. It's exciting to see what something could be, instead of just what it already is.
Mostly, though, people inspire me. I'm constantly awed by the creativity, passion, quirkiness, joy, and skill of other artists. It takes almost more discipline than I possess not to just poke around www.etsy.com all day to see what people have come up with that I've never seen or imagined. Amazing. Wonderful. Laughter-making, thought provoking. Who wouldn't be inspired?
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" I think art lies in the imagination, in coming up with something new. Craft is the ability to reproduce art.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? Estate and garage sales, in general. The Rebuilding Center. Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics. The Bins. The main Goodwill store, on MLK. Dava Beads on Broadway. All the Stars Antique Malls.
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