Monday, December 7, 2009

 I am officially back to work.It is exciting to be out in the world again but it is also one more ball for me to juggle each day. With my new improved, even-busier-than-before schedule I have not had any time to volunteer in my son's first grade class this year. I was thinking about this and feeling guilty and disconnected from his school experience when I had a thought. Was there a way to volunteer and craft at the same time? Could I possibly do both and find the fulfillment I was seeking? Heck yes! 
 I approached my son's teacher with this idea and asked if there was any projects I could do at home for him. I happened to mention "cutting stuff out" and a huge smile appeared on his face. The teacher did in fact have "stuff" that needed a a pair of scissors wielded over it and he was very  glad I offered to do it.
 So, armed with a stack of card stock printed with flash cards and anagram pieces, some scissors and a cup of coffee, I settled in front of the television to "volunteer". When I finished I felt good about helping out and had gotten a bit of a crafting fix. The best of both worlds for me.
 I would urge any parent of a child in school that does not have the time to be in the classroom volunteering, to consider taking on some projects to do at home. The teacher was happy, my guilt was assuaged, crafting was accomplished and best of all my son was able to see that I was helping out. This is the best reason of all. Now he knows that his success in school is as important to me as my new job or my hobbies.


Monday, September 28, 2009

And now for something brand new.....

 In addition to all the things I have been listing in my Etsy shop, I have also been surfing all the other shops and sellers on Etsy as well. 
 I had been seeing these fantastic looking pendants made from small squares of glass and was very curious about them. How were they made and more importantly could I make them? By now you know that for me to pick up a new craft, being inexpensive is the most important thing. That is why when I found a Kit containing everything I needed to make five Glass Tile Pendants for under $15.00 I was excited!

 I simply went on to Etsy and did a search for "Glass Tile Pendant Kits". There were a lot of choices and I went with one from Sun and Moon Craft Kits.   
 The transaction went smoothly and within two weeks my Kit was delivered. It was cleverly packaged in a cute Tin along with a little of everything I needed to get started.

 I have a love of all things Japanese so when I saw the beautiful little pendants I was hooked. The kit itself did not come with any instructions but they were sent to me via my email. I was skeptical at first, but I read the steps over a couple of times, and it went well.

 Here are some of the finished product .

  I cannot believe how satisfying these were to makeAnd they look so good (if I do say so myself!). So, I highly recommend checking out Etsy and all the crafting supplies they offer. 

     This is your year to make it a truly affordable and handmade Holiday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My First Carving (gulp!)


I finally made it into Dakota Art Store to buy a linoleum block carving tool. This nifty little gadget by Speedball, has five different blades that all fit inside the handle when not in use. It cost about $13.00, but I have seen them online at Dick Blick and Speedball for less. I wanted to shop local so I was willing to pay a bit more. 
 I had heard that using blocks of something called Speedy-Cut would be easier to carve in than linoleum for a beginner like me.  Looking at both the lino and the Speedy-Cut blocks side by side, I could see that the lino is stiffer than the Speedy-Cut and it seemed more forgiving. So, I  got a small block (2"X 5") of Speedy-Cut to cut into. Then, I beat it home to get my carve on!!

  I decided to do a printing of an owl. I sketched out my design and transferred it to the block. To do this I turned my finished picture 
over and rubbed pencil over the area the design was in. Next, I positioned the drawing, pencil rubbed side down, onto the  block. Now the drawing was face up again and I then traced back over the entire picture again. When the paper was taken off the block, there was the owl! The drawing on the block was light, so I went back over the lines to make them stand out more. Then I added some more detail like a crescent moon, a star and some leaves on the branch. Anything you carve will be printed in reverse. Keep this in mind when transferring the image to the block. That means text will look backwards. I have not carved a block with any lettering on it yet. That will be a later post!

  This is what the block looked like with the
finished drawing on it.

Now it was time to carve. I LOVED this part of the project!!With the help of my husband (who has done block printing in the past) and a video tutorial from Urban Outfitters, I came up with this.

 I started by carving the outline of the owl first, then the rest. I used the smallest (#1)blade for the tiny details and the largest blade(#5) on the remaining image. The trick here is carve out everything that you want to be white or not pick up any ink. Always remember to carve away from yourself, the blades are sharper than they look!
Ready to print! I put a pea sized amount of red and yellow acrylic paint on a big plastic plate. You need a plastic or glass non-porous surface to roll your ink or paint onto. I mixed the colors by rolling the brayer (roller) through the paint until I was happy with the shade. I kept rolling over the paint until the brayer was tacky, then I rolled it over the surface of the block. I quickly found out that too much paint made the print blurry. Doing test prints on scrap paper is the way to go.

 This is what one of the better prints looks like. I got so excited about the whole thing, was not paying attention, and  printed on the wrong side of about eight blank greeting cards. That was my worst mistake, not too bad! I'll find a use for the misprints, don't you worry.

 My head is buzzing with all the carving ideas I have. Too bad I have to eat and sleep!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Rebirth of Block Printing

 have been trying to come up with some new crafting ideas. It has to be inexpensive, unique, user friendly and did I mention inexpensive. All this was rattling around in my head, when I had a flash....wait for it....wait for it....Block Printing!

 About eight years ago, my artistic Boyfriend took a Block Printing class. He really enjoyed it and had gotten quite good at it. He made a print that we ended up using on our wedding invitations ( making him my artistic Husband).
 Well, life goes on, and with the birth of our son a lot of things fell by the wayside. For me, it was playing the guitar and sleeping all day. For my Husband it was calling chips and salsa a meal and Block Printing. So, I dusted off his box full of Block Printing supplies and tried my hand at it last night.

 Block Printing is a lot like using rubber stamps except you get to make the stamps your self. It's carved with a nifty little tool into squares of printing linoleum. Next, you ink your image and press it onto paper. Speedball Art is a great resource for Block Printing supplies and has a great online catalog.

  There is a learning curve and I made A LOT of mistakes. But, it was fun! I got to see the beautiful Block my sweet man made for our wedding invites for the first time in years. Very special.

 Another plus is that we seem to have most of the supplies we need for this craft(except for the carving tool) which meets my "Inexpensive" criteria.
  Next I want to try carving some blocks myself. I have some ideas of simple designs (owls,acorns,ukuleles etc.)and I am so excited to try! 
 High Fives for rediscovering Block Printing!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Oh Yeah....Origami!!

Today my Son asked why I don't do Origami any more. Good question. So, I got out some origami paper and the book, "Amazing Origami for Children" By Biddle. Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper into all kinds of shapes.

We did some old favorites like the cranes, some new ones for us like the penguin and we wrecked some paper trying some even harder folds.
My stash of Origami paper is real low (gone actually) so I need to lay in a new supply.
I'm reluctant to try and do a step by step tutorial on Origami, since I'm not the best at it. But, there are usually directions for at least one project in the packaging of the Origami paper itself. Of course, your local library can provide a free, low-tech way to learn some Origami.
I have been fascinated by Origami since I was little and as a High School exchange student to Japan, I got to experience this beautiful art up close.The paper is so fun and it's relaxing to do the folding. I am glad that my Son reminded me about it.
I think I forsee a resurgence of Origami in my near future!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Free"Cyled Crafts

I love free stuff. I search it out, ask for it,scavenge for it and revel in it. And when I am able to use free stuff for my crafty creations-well, that really makes me smile. You can see and purchase my crafts at
Magazines,books and paper scraps of any kind find their way into my Collage and scrap booking projects. I have my favorite spots around town (public library, used bookstores and random piles on the curb marked "free") and I check them as often as possible.
I see it as my way to be Green and to save my green!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Man (or Family) Cannot Live On Crafts Alone

I was headed Downtown to grocery shop and I somehow ended up at Otion The Soap Making Bar and buying soap making supplies instead of food.

I came home with nothing to eat but everything I needed to make some totally luscious Honey,Milk & Oatmeal Soap. It sounds yummy, right? The smell is also heavenly and satisfying, but you still can't call it a snack.
So, a little later, I will head out again to buy Groceries. I promise!
In the mean time, I'm going to get my soap molds and other goodies out and see what I can make! (Instead of Dinner.)