Creative actions

There is alot happening in my life at the moment.

My partner is struggling with an anxiety condition, I am finally settling into my new job 6 months into it, we are planning a trip to Europe, and I am now staring down the barrel of 6 months with my migraine condition under control and the reality that there is now nothing in the way of my dreams except my own self control.

It’s all a bit overwhelming, and the buzzing in my brain and tiredness in my body has been stifling my creative side. But I think I am progressing well. Even though I haven’t been physically creating anything (craft-wise OR writing-wise) I am still thinking and living creatively and my passion for creativity is showing in different ways.

I’m painting my nails more often.

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Fuzzy coat for winter warmth!

I’m buying creative books.

A cute button project book that I can’t wait to play with. Includes a chart to help identify buttons!

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I think my sewing room needs this lamp…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ll be writing a full post about this awesome book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m nurturing my nerd side.

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Yes, Ron and Hermione are making out instead of helping Harry face Voldemort…what of it? :P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m chasing projects I will be passionate about at work.

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And I am encouraging creativity in my man, who is currently relishing in the collection of David Bowie vinyl he bought at an antique fair over the weekend, as well as planning a craft project of his own :)

The pile of unused Colette patterns will eventually become creations and the resin kit will eventually be opened to trial a new jewellery making venture. We are healing from years of turbulence and I am taking time to do so slowly.

The happenings…

I am making my way back to blog world. The night I finally do this, the internet goes down. Yay! So I’m drafting this in Word with the Back to the Future bonus material playing in another window, because I’m obsessed with that at the moment. It’s a nerding good time.

What has been happening creatively? Well, I turned myself into a Goomba for a video game themed birthday party:

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Which I sewed with beer in hand:

sew beerMy mum bought me the best book ends EVER for Christmas:

sewing machine ends

I bought a cute owl that I’m thinking might house spare cottons or embroidery floss:

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And I’ve made a pact with myself to not buy any more patterns until I’ve used at least 2 of the ones I already have:

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Buying the blueprints for pretties apparently requires the addition of effort if said pretties are to eventuate…

So that’s what’s been happening! I won’t go into the lengthy reasons behind my absence from blogging, or my absence from sewing. I’ll just dive right back in here and get on with things :)

Ch ch ch changes…

Just a quick note! I realised my creative interests were expanding a little beyond sewing, as you will have noticed from my most recent posts which have covered jewellery making, crochet and terrariums!

I don’t need yet another blog to document non-sewing interests, so have made a few tweaks to this blog to cover both. No name change even necessary as no matter what I am creating I will always have some cotton handy! :)

More crafty goodness soon!

xo

Jewellery as personal expression

I am a very wordy person. I love literary quotes and meaningful sentences. I love to read and I love to write.

Since my late teens I have considered tattoos on and off. I’ve always loved the idea of having something meaningful etched on my body. But I’ve always ended up deciding not to. There are a few reasons.

Some people carry tattoos beautifully, some people do not. There is only one way to find out which group I fall into and I don’t like the odds. And then there’s the dilemma that with so many beautiful words in the world, how will I find the right ones? How will I choose the expressions that mean most to me? How will I choose phrases and quotes that I will love til my death?

Then 2 years ago, my home was broken into and a bunch of jewellery stolen. In the resultant insurance claim, I got $3000 to spend at a jewellers and was excited to have a beautiful silver bangle engraved with one of my favourite sayings:

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“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Dumbledore

(yes, he says this in the movie script, not the book. But the words are  extremely appropriate to the character and to the awful feeling that lingered with me after the break in).

It was a great moment, having that jewellery made. It empowered me in a time of darkness, and I was thrilled with the result.

There were several problems with this though. At $300 for the bangle, and $600 for the engraving (deep etching by an artisan engraver), such jewellery is not within my price range moving forward…this was a one off only. The bangle is also heavy and clunky to wear, and scratches easy, so is more of a ‘going out’ piece than something I can wear daily.

I love my bangle, but all the other words and expressions I love were unlikely to get a similar treatment.

Then, just recently, I stumbled across this amazing blog post by Rae Gun Ramblings, which provides instructions on making a “fave book tribute necklace” of sorts.

Oh the possibilities!

I have never been into jewellery making. Generally it always brought to mind stringing together tiny, coloured beads into fairly ugly friendship bracelets when I was 13. That is obviously not all there is to it, and there are beautiful handmade jewellery pieces out there, but I’d always preferred to buy them, rather than make them.

That is, until I discovered this perfect way to wear expressive quotes that are meaningful to me without etching them on my skin or spending hundreds of dollars!

Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings makes her tribute necklaces with three basic components:

  • A bezel/frame pendant
  • Mod Podge Dimensional Magic
  • A piece of paper with scanned words from her favourite book

In this little endeavour of mine I am learning as I go. I have had supply issues which are now resolved. I have had one very successful experiment and one complete fail (which I have since replicated and cannot for the life of me explain). Lets take a look.

Firstly, bezels are not easy to find in Australia. They are not stocked in Spotlight or Lincraft, and there are no jewellery making suppliers local to me in Newcastle (unless I am missing something?), and I haven’t had a chance to look in Sydney yet, so I was left with eBay. I managed to find one (yes, one) Australian supplier (The Daisy Diva), all the way over in Perth, and finally got my hands on 2 silver bezels for a very reasonable price. They arrive super fast too, enabling some immediate experimentation. I have since ordered 2 more from that supplier and a bunch of different types and colours from overseas suppliers that will probably take ages to get here. The only reason I ordered elsewhere was to get a variety of styles. I’d rather buy local!

Speaking of local, I was excited that despite their lack of bezels, Spotlight does stock Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. Yay!

Sorry for the poor quality....I was a bit excited to get started!

Sorry for the poor quality….I was a bit excited to get started!

Dimensional Magic is a milky looking liquid that (usually) dries clear and almost completely hard. It’s not as strong or as good as resin. Resin dries like glass, very durable. Dimensional Magic, in ideal circumstances, dries looking like glass, but if you pushed your thumb nail into it it would leave a mark. It is also water based so not completely water proof.  I’ll talk more about resin vs Dimensional Magic in a moment, but lets just say I was happy to try Dimensional Magic first as it seemed easiest, quickest, cheapest, and I wasn’t going to be devastated if it failed.

With my first two bezels, I decided on two necklaces. One would be a motivational or literary quote, the other would be a sewing themed collage. The bezels that arrived were nice and deep so I decided a collage would be fun to try.

I was expecting my quote to work beautifully and my collage to fail. It turned out the other way around haha.

This is my quote:

A quote by Hemingway, designed to inspire me to write.

So much blue! And a quote by Hemingway, designed to inspire me to write.

I’d also like to point out that this is “Take 2″.

First go, it looked like this but the DM was very thickly layered. It actually looked worse than this because you could see through the paper to the mottled pattern on the back of the bezel. Process-wise, I used PVA to glue down the paper (printed on laser jet), then put the DM over the top. When I saw all the blue streaks, I thought it might be the ink running from the printout, though my research told me that shouldn’t happen with laser jet printing. Knowing that the DM is water based, I soaked the whole bezel in boiling hot water until it cooled and was able to peel all the DM, paper and glue out…awesome! Do over! After thouroughly cleaning the bezel, I reprinted, and this time used ordinary Mod Podge to glue plain paper in, then glue my printed paper over the top, then add a sealing layer. Once that dried, on went the DM, but with pretty much the same result except the 2 layers of paper removed the transparency issue. 

What was even more confusing about this was that at the same time as my first fail, I was also working on my collage bezel, and it turned out really well!

Collage necklace, the day after completion

Collage necklace, the day after completion

For this one I Mod Podged down a piece of plain paper, then a piece of sewing pattern paper (I used sewing pattern wrapping tissue from Typo – how hipster – but you could just use an old pattern from a second hand shop: $0.50), then sealed the pattern paper with more Mod Podge. I then super glued in three buttons, a pin, and a tiny scissors charm (made of plastic). I then used the Mod Podge Dimensional Magic over all of that, doing several layers. Bubbles were an issue with both bezels. With the sewing bezel, I had to go back several times and pop bubbles that kept appearing in the button holes! I learned to pop with either a pin or toothpick, and if you get a cluster of tiny unpoppable bubbles, scoop them out with a corner of paper whilst the DM is still wet. I’ve also read that a dry paintbrush works. You can see some bad bubbles in the corner of my quote necklace, because once the blue streaks appeared I gave up popping bubbles.

Alot of people on the interweb complain of the clarity of Mod Podge waning after just a few days, and some people report cracking. After a few days I noticed a slight fogginess developed with my sewing bezel, as well as a slight rippling (see pic below), but because the collage is so ‘busy’ these flaws aren’t very obvious and I’ve had several compliments on the necklace. I think the DM is more likely to go smoky and possibly warp the thicker you layer it. My fail necklace, despite its blueness, has no smokiness or rippling or cracks whatsoever. With all of this in mind, I think my collage would work far better with resin, but the DM would be great with just one thin layer, over paper, for my quote necklaces….if we can resolve the blue issue.

Collage necklace after a few days: less clarity and some rippling, but I'm still in love

Collage necklace after a few days: less clarity and some rippling, but I’m still in love

The internet yielded a few hits on the blue streaks. Most people have it happen when they do a collage type necklace and use metal items within their collage. It seems to be a reaction thing. I think what has happened with my necklace has been a reaction with the actual bezel. I may have gotten a dud bezel, but I think more likely I just should have washed and prepped it properly, and once the blue streaks got on there it was going to happen over and over again. I tried to get all the blue out after I cleaned out my first fail, but obviously didn’t.

The only way I am going to find out now is more experimentation with new bezels, all of which are yet to arrive in the post….waah! But I have had some great fun experimenting, have at least one great piece to show for it, and am looking forward to more fun!

Finally, returning to the resin vs Mod Podge DM discussion, my research tells me resin is clearly the superior product. But as a beginner, I wanted to start out with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic and now have a whole bottle to experiment with before I graduate to trying resin. Resin is apparently quite hard to get the hang of!

And PS, I found another super cute way to express myself through jewellery!

Cute as a hoop!

Cute as a hoop!

I got this embroidery hoop necklace pendant by dandelyne  from The Haby Goddess, and had my first go at embroidery…how adorable! :)

Little bits and pieces

As per my recent post about crochet, the wool to craft my granny rug has arrived!

IMG_8496I ordered this wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills which I highly recommend. I had originally planned to use acrylic yarn as I discussed previously, however my seasoned knitter colleague pointed me in the Bendigo direction and I easily gave in. It’s real, Australia-made wool, bought directly from the manufacturer, so it comes it cheaper than some of the fancier acrylic yarns! Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to use acrylic yarns, however when I realised I could get real wool so cheap I couldn’t resist a higher quality for my tribute blanket :)

In other crafty news, I am going to start letter writing to some distant friends and I went on a hunt for cute envelopes. I could only find coloured envelopes, not any with patterns, and the coloured ones were ridiculously expensive. I think the cheapest was about 6 plain coloured for $6.  So what did I do? Bought a 12 pack of scrapbook sheets, dismantled an old envelope to use as a template, and made my own!

IMG_8510This gave me a total of 12 super cute envelopes for about $5 (the cost of the scrapbook sheets). I also used a glue stick, scissors, a ruler, a lead pencil that I had laying around. When I stuff my first letter into one I will decide if it is strong enough as is or if I need to reinforce them with sticky tape and use stronger glue next time…the glue stick I used was pretty old :)

And as for some actual sewing? Well tomorrow is a public holiday and the house is actually clean…so stay tuned!

 

 

Crochet beginnings

My Nanna, my Mum’s mother, died when I was 7, almost exactly 20 years ago. I have only good memories of her, as does everyone else :) She made THE best cups of tea, taught me the difference between a weed and a plant and made me eat chickweed sandwiches when I was sick.

MMM...taters!

MMM…taters!

428114_10201041820308360_896114288_nNanna made a crochet rug for each of her grandchildren up until she died. She had 11 adult children so that was ALOT of grandchildren! I specifically remember her bringing a big bag of yarn for me to choose the colours I wanted. I chose blue, pink and purple, and this is my rug:

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At over 20 years old it’s faded, covered in pilling, and has a hole that will only grow, so it stays safely tucked away. After buying my reading chair recently I decided I need a rug for it, and then when I realised I would be off work for 2 weeks after my surgery I decided that a great recovery would be to lean back in my new chair, watch Supernatural, and crochet a rug, all for me. I once got about 1/3 of the way through a rug the same style as the one above, in dark blue and black. My mum started it for me and I never did finish it, and now the colours just aren’t me.

I’ve decided to start from scratch. For my new rug, I want to do it all myself, do it as a ‘granny square’ rug (a patchwork of small squares instead of one big one), and I have also decided that it would be a reimagining of my original rug from Nanna, using mostly the same colours.

My work colleague, who is a big knitter, has suggested I use real wool from a very reasonably priced supplier who sells it machine washable and almost itch free. Nanna’s rugs were all acrylic yarn (when you have to make that many, they have to be!), but a real wool one appeals to me as my house can get quite cold. So I am going to look at a colour card next week and order from there.

In the meantime I wanted to do a few test squares, to decide the design, colours and size of the squares. My Aunt, upon hearing about my plans, called with some great news. She actually has Nanna’s old crocheting bags, complete with yarn! Better still, some of the colours match my blanket, and were probably actually used to make it. Isn’t that amazing?!

So, after a very quick YouTube tutorial, I set about crocheting properly for the first time. This is the result, and will be the design I use in my rug:

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The rug will be a patchwork of ‘mini Nanna rugs’ broken up by the white. I chose to incorporate the white to make the mini versions of my rug pop, and to also break up the colour a bit. If I were making a blanket to my tastes, as opposed to a tribute blanket, the colour scheme would be far more neutral. The white tones the colour down a bit, yet conversely, highlights the design of the original rug….I am very pleased with the way I have reimagined it. The blue and the pink yarn you see in the test squares is over 20 years old and from the same lot as my original blanket! Even though I will only use that yarn in the test squares, it’s still a wonderful feeling :)

My surgery is still 7 weeks away, so I am going to order wool in a couple of weeks and won’t be starting on the rug until just before the surgery. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted!

In spite of the chill of late autumn, it’s been a very ‘warm’ weekend, full of hanging out with my Aunty, crocheting, baking cupcakes and finding an old 2 cent coin in my chair :D

A weekend of crocheting, baking cupcakes and finding an old 2 cent coin in my chair :D