Monday, 28 January 2013

Needle Felting with Cat Hair

This is the ultimate upcycling project! Who knew you could make use of all that pesky cat hair?!

Inspired by a book that I saw on amazon but do not own and do not intend to buy (Crafting with Cat Hair: Handicraft to Make with Your Cat) I brushed Fanta and Queequag this weekend to gather some cat hair in preparation for an attempt to needle felt with it. I actually think I chose the more difficult fur to use as Fanta’s hair is much more coarse and kept sticking in the foam mat that I use. Quee’s is softer and feels more like the wool I have used before but I had managed to collect a lot more of Fanta’s fur meaning that I had enough to actually create something worthwhile. I’ve used wire for the whiskers and mini brads for the eyes and nose. He’s so cute!


He went from this…


To this in a matter of minutes…



Saturday, 26 January 2013

Heinz Meanz Beadz!

In response to a suggestion on facebook from Amanda I finally set about beading a Heinz Beanz tin on Wednesday evening.

Shortly after cooking sausages, chips and beans for all of our Brownies back in December I had a little accident involving a (full) catering size tin of beans and a cream carpet in the church we meet in. This tickled Amanda who promptly bought a tin of beans, wrapped them in ribbon and placed it in my pigeonhole as an early Christmas present. This is my thank you to her!


I carefully planned the design on a grid and based it on the tin pictured below. This design took 460 beads and was already getting a bit big so I had to use a little creative licence with the writing but Amanda and I understand it!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Engagement Card

Here’s an engagement card I made this weekend while staying inside in the warm. I beaded the ring on wire before attaching it to the card.

The three squares beneath the ring are, from smallest to largest:

1. A thick, semi-transparent, fibrous paper with a grey leaf motif stitched by machine onto

2. A thick white paper with silver “Congratulations” printed  all over it (you can just about see it on this photo if you look very carefully!) and

3. A plain black square 4mm larger than the second one.


It feels like a really long time since I made a card but I was really pleased with this one.


Update on 25th January 2013

Less than 24 hours after this card went live on my blog I had a request for another. I’ve also made an envelope to fit this one as the A5 brown manila envelope that I folded over and mailed the last one in would not really be acceptable to personally hand to someone. So, here it is…


It doesn’t match but the paper that I made the envelope from was the only stuff I had that was big enough! I could do with getting some A3 coloured paper really.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Improving my Craft Photography?

This “snow day” has given me the opportunity to begin my mission to improve the photography of my crafting projects. I’d really like to make my photographs more consistent on this site and begin to develop my own style. To help me on this journey I was given Heidi Adnum’s Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos for Christmas this year. It’s a brilliant book and even David approved of this one. I’ve also adopted our old DSLR (Canon EOS 50D), which was our wedding present but we upgraded it fairly recently. I’m using it with a 24-105mm lens at the moment.

I’ve taken quite a variety of photos of crafts and accessories and I’d love to know which ones you think work and which ones really don’t…

First we have three photos of a beaded necklace, two of which use a terracotta plant pot as an additional prop.


IMG_0229i  IMG_0233i

Here’s a photo of the beaded charms I made recently. This is, surely,  a much better photo than the ones I took of my knee a few days ago. I quite like the reflection effect here.


These photos of my felted mouse are not much better than previous attempts but in taking them I learned a lot about using different coloured backgrounds. The mouse needed a dark background because he is so dark himself.


My dried roses look very vibrant here but this photo also shows the disadvantages of using a glossy background. I think I may have to get some black fabric to hang over a large frame for future dark backgrounds. The background of the artificial bouquet of roses is a large canvas, which I found to be less reflective than the wall itself.



A glass vase is a difficult thing to photograph well. Ruth painted this one for me as a thank you present at her wedding back in 2009.


This little jar of special wishes was given to me Isabel, who writes Monochrome magpie, when she left at the end of Year 13.


Anny made me this make-up bag for my 30th back in May. Visit her website by clicking the link: madebyanny


Finally on my made by other people section, these two bowls were made by the mother of one of our Year 11 students. She gave me these as thank you presents at the end of Year 7 and 9. I absolutely love them.


The next two are my messy crocheting and latch-hook rug making materials. I’ve had to tone the saturation down on the first one because I really struggled with the bright red, which always comes out looking decided neon.



Now for a batch of other objects.  The plastic champagne glasses and stones are taken against a “seamless background” that I created by draping a towel over a box.





Finally, here are some photos of crafting accessories…





Please post any comments, feedback or suggestions that you have. Thank you!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

More Seed Bead Creations

It’s just possible that I am already hooked on weaving delicate creations from seed beads and wire. The snow put an end to any ideas of getting back to Mum, Sarah and the kids this weekend so, on Friday night, when I would ordinarily be doing battle with the M1, M6, M54 and A5, I tried out another couple of the patterns from my new book.


As any regular blog reader will know, my husband loves a crafted mouse so I first beaded this little creature to go with his knitted and felted mice…

P1080595i   P1080596i

Then I decided to brave a butterfly that the book claims to be a difficulty rating of “intermediate”. It wasn’t too hard to do but it was a challenge to gauge how much wire to allow for the weaving of the wings, which is why a couple of them are sitting slightly too far from the butterflies body. I don’t think I’ll be progressing to “hard” just yet but I’ve definitely got the taste for this little craft.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Weaving Hama Beads

Back to university and hama beads for this post. A slightly unconventional but not unprecedented use of these beads is to weave mats or door hangers with them…

This first piece hung proudly on my door at uni…


The second hung on David’s door. It would appear that I laid claim to two rooms at Girton…


I guess this third one was created whilst I was having a romantic moment but I don’t really remember. I do know that I planned them all meticulously and that they were very satisfying to make.


When googling “hama bead weaving” to see if this was an appropriate name to call the craft I stumbled across this beautiful piece on MiniEco. I’ve hyperlinked the screenshot for you to find out more for yourself.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Origami Colibri Hummingbird

As we all know, first anniversaries are traditionally meant to be gifted with paper. So, back in 2010 for our first anniversary I spent hours and hours perfecting the skill of folding a Colibri Hummingbird from paper for David. Three years on, here’s the little fella standing proudly on my clothes horse!



Although it’s Ruby-throated rather than Colibri, here is one of my own video clips of a hummingbird feeding in Texas from our holiday in 2011…

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Hama bead projects from university

This is the first of two Hama bead related posts that were inspired by my beading last night. You’ll understand why the champagne bottle jogged my memory of crafting with these beads when I publish the other post but for now I shall stick with the conventional use of Hama beads.

I own a huge number of Hama beads and associated materials because I love to use them with the Brownies. It’s a little fiddly but well worth all the effort. I have various peg boards that you load with the plastic beads before melting them into solid, flat structures with an ordinary iron and special paper that is a bit like baking parchment.

I created all of the these during my time at university whilst I was Brown Owl of the wonderful 38th Cambridge Brownies many years ago. I followed a pattern for the swans but the Brownie emblem and the Bagpuss are my designs.


P1010117i  P1010118i

All three of the above creations are packed away and never normally see the light of day but David and I still have the coasters below out for use in the lounge. They must be about ten years old now and are still going strong.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Beaded Champagne Bottle

I have made my first beaded creation on wire this evening. It’s an easy piece to make using 117 beads (115 in the pattern but I had to add a couple extra because my green ones are slightly too small). As with all crafting endeavours, I’m sure that I will improve with practice and hopefully future edges will be perfectly aligned but this is not a bad first attempt.


Here it is alongside the pattern used…


The champagne bottle design comes from one of my Christmas presents, which was selected from my amazon wish list. I can’t imagine that I will use any of the very simple designs from this book but some of the more complicated ones are beautiful. Click on the image to link to amazon and read some reviews or purchase the book for yourself.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Math Craft

I did mention this website back in July but it’s so brilliant that I’m flagging it up again, especially as I am now officially a contributor to the site. I decided to share the Sierpinski Christmas tree with even more people! Click on the screenshot to go and take a look at the site for yourself. It’s well worth a visit and is packed full of tutorials and simple “inspiration” articles like mine. It’s amazing the time and effort that people put into some of these pieces.


Friday, 11 January 2013

Book Review - Project Origami, Thomas Hull


Although there is a second edition of this book out at the end of this month (click here for details) I only just got this one for Christmas. It’s brilliant. Mind you, it is very definitely another one of those books that will appeal to the few of us who really are passionate about both Mathematics and crafting.
This book consists of 22 activities to inspire mathematical discovery in the classroom through origami. They range from “folding equilateral triangles in a square” to “rigid folds – Gaussian curvature and spherical trigonometry”. The worksheets and solutions are carefully produced and, at least at first glance, appear to be very useable while the pedagogy and extension sections are really interesting.
Although the material is primarily aimed at higher education Mathematics courses such as topology, number theory, calculus and graph theory, many of the activities can be adapted to suit high school Mathematics too. It will just take a bit of creativity, flexibility and plenty of enthusiasm to see them through.
Once they have constructed the net of a truncated icosahedron (football), I have often challenged my key stage 4 classes to colour the net so that no two faces of the same colour touch before cutting and folding the net into the 3-dimensional shape. This book has given me some further ideas on this topic and next week I’m going to attempt to introduce my Year 10s to the concept of planar graphs allowing them to demonstrate that four colours are sufficient to colour the ball without like-coloured faces touching.
Imagine putting a football (which is made up of 20 hexagons and 17 pentagons) onto the table, stretching the bottom face out and pushing the rest of the ball down flat onto the table so that none of the edges cross. This creates the following planar graph of a truncated icosahedron:
Note that this representation only shows 31 faces as the 32nd shape (the final pentagon) is stretched out underneath all of the others. This new 2-dimensional representation of a football clearly shows which faces touch each other, making the colouring problem significantly easier to tackle. It is easy enough to show that three colours are not sufficient so all they need to do is to colour the diagram with four colours so that no two adjacent shapes are the same colour and the outer hexagons are coloured using only three colours (so that the hidden pentagon can be coloured in the fourth colour). This is a simple exercise that they will have no problems with. It can then be extended to a 3-edge-colouring problem, which is even more interesting!
That’s why I keep asking for these kinds of books. They give me so much inspiration and help me to steer clear of hum drum textbook learning once in a while. I know it’s a niche market but while they keep publishing this kind of material I will keep buying it. Sorry David, my quirky library is ever expanding.
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