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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cotton: Global Threads at the Whitworth Art Gallery

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 During my half term break from college I went to the Whitworth Art Gallery (the website of which this photo is from) to see their new exhibition Cotton: Global Threads. Now, the Whitworth gets mixed reviews, some people think it’s boring but I love it there. It has a really relaxed atmosphere and you can wander around without feeling like you’re going to get pounced on by a room attendant for standing to close to a painting. I’ve also worked there when I was volunteering for the Manchester International Festival in 2009 at a Marina Abramovic performance exhibition (she gave me a hug!) However, I wasn’t too excited about this exhibition. Yes, there was something for everyone, video, sculpture, prints, clothing and historic textiles, moral messages and children’s area, but I didn’t come away feeling I’d seen anything amazing or learnt anything new. The exhibition looks at the uses of cotton in all the art forms mentioned above and how cotton has been a part of history in many countries around the world. Being in Manchester which was once the center of the global cotton industry I thought there could have been more focus on this, as it is always easy to understand something when you have a local reference. The cotton based art of other countries might then have had a more personal impact because I  could relate its production with my local area. Overall there were a few interesting pieces, but I probably won’t go back for another look. Please don’t just take my opinion though, go and see it or read about it for yourself here.

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Shrink Plastic Badge

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This is a shrink plastic badge that I have added onto my Folksy shop. They are really easy to make with a little imagination, and I think they look really good.

Here’s how to make one of your own; firstly you will need some shrink plastic (I used black obviously) Draw a design on to the matt side of the plastic (If you try to draw on the shiny side it won’t work) . If you are using a lighter coloured plastic you can draw a design and colour it in with pencils, felt tips or probably even water colours. Remember that it is called shrink plastic for a reason. The shape you cut out will shrink up to seven times when heated, so make sure your design is a lot larger that you actually want it to be. (This may take some experimentation, it did for me!) So cut your design out using regular scissors and if you want any holes to attach jump rings or something to, do this now with a hole punch.

You will need to heat your oven up to Gas mark 3 and get a baking tray lined with tin foil. Place your design onto the foiled tray matt side up and put in the oven. At first nothing will happen but then your shape will start to curl and roll about. Don’t panic! It will settle down and eventually flatten itself out. Wait until it is flat (It will also be a lot smaller) then take it out of the oven. Very quickly put something heavy and flat (I use a chopping board) on top of your design. This ensures that it is cools completely flat. After a minute or so it will be cool and you can examine your work. I attached a brooch bar to the back of my work using glue (I like Gorilla Super Glue)

And that’s it! If you punched holes in, you could attach a jump ring and thread your design onto a necklace or key ring, the possibilities are endless! If you don’t want to make one of your own, you can buy one of mine from my Folksy shop.

The Creative Crafts Show

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Last Thursday I went to the Creative Crafts Show at Events City in Manchester. This is something of a tradition in my family where almost all of us are involved in some sort of craft. Ever since I was very small I always remember looking forward to going and seeing what bargains I could find and new crafts I could discover. Here is a picture of my haul of goodies that I picked up this time. As you can see I was focused on semi-precious stone beads (I have a few ideas for jewellery and things) but I also got a roll of white scrap fabric (£1!) silk kimono scraps, 14 rolls of double-sided tape(£5!) and a stack load of card and paper. Some people think the show is very expensive, and I must admit that you do have to be carefull that you can’t buy things cheaper on the internet or even at another stall, but if you know what you are looking for, you can get some good bargains. I think it’s a good chance to see what other crafts are out there as well, as it’s very easy just to focus on one area but there are lots of tools that apply to one craft that might be perfect for something you’re working on. For instance I noticed a lot of scrapbooking equipment can be useful in bookbinding , as can some of the card making paper. Any way I think I’m biased as I just really like going and having a good day out with my crafty family!

More cake!

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I know I recently posted about a cake I made, but I just had to share these little cupcakes I made the other day (I’m really proud of them!) For my birthday my Aunty and my gran got me Blossom Sugar Art butterfly and daisy cutter and mould sets. With these I am able to create little toppers for my cakes made from icing. All you have to do is roll out some icing, cut out the shape using the cutter, pop the icing shape onto the mould, then press together. Then you leave the icing to dry out (I made a concertina of tin foil to dry my butterfly on so that the wings would stand at an angle) My tips would be to use plenty of icing sugar on your worktop and loads in the mould, re-applying each time. It’s also a good idea not to roll the icing very thin, or it just sticks to the mould. The colour was added using Blossom Sugar Art edible shimmer which is applied using a little paint brush and gives a lovely hint of colour and a bit of sparkle. The cakes themselves, well I have to admit I cheated. I used a box mix from Morrisons! Vanilla cupcake and Red Velvet cupcake mixes and I don’t care that I cheated because they were really yummy! I definitely would recommend the moulds and the shimmer though, they just make your cakes look that bit more special.

Prototype experiments

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My college project on shells is progressing quite well, I’ve just got quite a few different ideas that I want to try out. Mainly I want to work on creating a surface design for fabric that I can get digitally printed. I think it would be really exciting to make products out of fabric I have designed! However, this is a photo of something else entirely. It is a clear plastic shell which I made using an actual shell (given to me by a very kind lady on my course) mounted on a piece of wood and then put into a vacuum form machine. The vacuum former heats the plastic then when it has gone soft, you press the vacuum on, pull a lever so that the mould is pushed up into the plastic, which is then sucked around the mould by the vacuum. (Have a look at the home-made vacuum formers on You Tube to get a better idea of what I’m going on about!) To add colour I used an airbrush machine (kindly lent to me by my tutor!) filled with a mix of glass paint and white spirit to make it runny. I am pretty pleased with the results but I know that the trickiest part is still to come. My aim is to make the two plastic shell halves that I have into a small clutch bag. This will involve hinges and clasps and other stuff that I’m not sure how it’s going to work yet! Luckily, I like experimenting.