Objects old, vintage, hand made or upcyled, and old techniques with a modern twist

Archive for November, 2015

Getting in the Mood for Christmas: Wrapping and Decorations

paper-pom-poms

I have made a few simple Christmas decorations lately, that can also be used to embellish wrapped presents. These tissue paper flowers are quick and easy to make, and look lovely on top of a gift. Using larger pieces of tissue paper (and more layers) this technique can also be used to make big paper pompoms.

The only materials required are a pair of scissors, some thread and a sheet of tissue paper. The flowers shown here are approximately 8cm across, and I made each one from a piece of paper that measured 50cm x 9cm.

paper-strips

First cut your strip of tissue paper into four equally-sized pieces.

tissue-paper-rectanagles

Lay the pieces on top of each other and fold them (together) into a concertina. The folds for my flowers were each approximately 0.7 cm wide.

folding-paper    concertina

When the paper has been folded all the way across, tie a piece of thread tightly around the centre of the folded strip.

making-paper-flowers

Next, round off each end of the folded paper- this will create the flower’s appearance of individual petals.

cutting-paper-petals

Open up one end of the concertina into a ‘fan’, and then gently start to tease apart the separate layers of paper. Begin with the top layer, and then separate each of the other layers in turn. Take care with this stage, as the tissue paper can easily tear.

paper-flowers    flower-present-topper

Repeat with the other end of the concertina and you have one finished flower, ready to adorn a stylish gift or to be hung from a Christmas tree!

gold-tissue-flower

The flowers are so easy to make that it takes no time to whip up a few!

tissue-paper-flowers

Crochet Christmas Gifts

amigurumi

I have made a start on a few of the smaller presents that I am making for Christmas with these crochet amigurumi. The rabbit is for a work colleague, and the alien and elephant were requests from two small children I know, who were intrigued to see me crocheting!

The patterns are my own designs; using a few basic shapes/forms it is amazing how many different animals/creatures/aliens you can make! The elephant is only just over three inches tall, making these quick projects too (always a bonus in the run up to Christmas!).

Monday Mood Board: Christmas Craft Hamper

Christmas-hamper

With Christmas fast approaching I am currently inspired by all things present-like, and came up with this idea for a craft-loving friend. The basket/wicker hamper was a second-hand/vintage bargain (only £2!), clean and in excellent condition.  Using a stencil and black acrylic paint I added the recipient’s initials to the lid of the hamper.

wicker-basket

I am filling the inside of the hamper with a variety of craft materials and haberdashery tailored to the recipient, and am really enjoying choosing things that I think she will like! This is definitely one of the quickest ideas for a handmade present (if you don’t count the time spent choosing the contents!), and it’s nice to give a personalised gift. The hamper can easily be adapted for non-craft lovers, simply by choosing different contents (e.g. baking paraphernalia, toys, food etc).

The hamper by itself is a nice craft storage idea, and a set of baskets of different sizes would look good on a studio shelf: beautiful as well as useful!

personalised-wicker-basket

Handmade Crochet Hooks DIY

handmade-crochet-hooks

With Christmas approaching, this is a great handmade present for a lover of crochet: a set of hand-carved crochet hooks, in a handmade case. Of course, if time is short, you could always just make the case, and fill it with a set of bought crochet hooks.

decorated-crochet-hooks

To make the crochet hooks I used:

Freshly-cut twigs from an apple tree (of a slightly larger diameter than I wanted the finished hooks to be)

A sharp pen knife

Clear varnish

A paintbrush

Acrylic paint

A hacksaw

Sandpaper

hand-carved-crochet-hooks

The crochet hooks were made by first cutting the twigs to length using a hacksaw. Next, a penknife was used to remove the bark from the twigs. The hook was carved using first a hacksaw, and then a penknife, and was refined using rough sandpaper.

In this project I embraced the slightly rustic look, as without using a lathe it would be incredibly difficult to carve beautifully straight crochet hooks (especially for a novice wood-carver like me!). I made sure that I got a lovely smooth finish to the wood, but showcased the slightly wonky shape of the twigs- this does have the added bonus of showing that the crochet hooks were handmade!

crochet-hooks-DIY

The hooks were made smooth using sandpaper, and I also cut a decorative groove around the handle to mark the edge of the painted area.

It is much easier to make the crochet hooks using green (freshly cut) twigs, but after carving they need to be left to thoroughly dry out before painting, as they will shrink slightly when drying.

I chose to paint a cheerful polka dot pattern on the handles, and once the paint was dry I coated the painted area with clear varnish (as the acrylic paint on it’s own wasn’t as shiny a finish as I wanted).

crochet-hook-case

I used a knitting and crochet gauge to find out the sizes of the hooks, and then used metal number stamps to impress the size just below the painted area on each hook (you could instead paint or write the size on to each hook).

I was surprised how easy I found it to make these hooks, it just took careful selection of appropriate twigs, and some patience (particularly when waiting for the wood to dry out after carving, which took 3-4 days). The wood I used was from an apple tree in my parents’ garden, which added a bit of meaning to the gift as I made the crochet hooks for my mum.

handmade-crochet-hook-case

The case was made to fit this set of handmade crochet hooks, and I chose to sew it by hand. The case is fastened simply using a loop of elastic that hooks over a decorative button. The basic design of this case could easily be adapted to store other craft tools, such as pens, paintbrushes or knitting needles etc.

Monday Mood Board- Painted Knitting Needles

polka-dot-knitting-needles

I love using wooden or bamboo knitting needles- they feel warmer than metal or plastic ones, and I find them much more comfortable when doing lots of knitting. These were plain needles when I bought them, but a lick of paint later and they are both decorative, and in easily identifiable pairs (the ones shown here all have an identical mate out of shot)!

If you saw my post on decorated jewellery-making tools then you will know that I am rather partial to having tools that are attractive (and unique) as well as useful- this is a very quick DIY project, and would also make a nice personalised Christmas present for a fellow knitter.

Hand-painted-kintting-needles

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