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Tag Archives: Tutorial

Making a mannequin

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I don’t like mannequins because they are scary, but I wanted something that I could display some of my products on at a stall. I had a look on eBay for dress makers dummies, but they are all pretty expensive and as I can’t make clothes, it would be a bit of a waste most of the time. Then I came across a tutorial by Etsy on how to make a custom dress form in your exact size. This is perfect for dress makers as clothes will fit you brilliantly. For me it was perfect because it was cheap!

Basically, you put on a t-shirt you don’t mind being cut up, then get someone to cover you in layers of duct tape!

I bought two cheap turtle necks from the supermarket (I also got cheap duct tape there) and put one on for the base as I wanted the form to have longer shoulders and a high neck.

Once you are covered in a few layers, get someone to cut you out! You’re left with a shell that is a replica of you! next just tape up the join, stuff the form with something (I used newspaper) and either stick on a cardboard base or attach it to a pole.

I then used the second  turtle neck as a cover, and there you have it! It’s the perfect size to sit on a table stall and a lot cheaper than buying the real thing! If you want to make one, definitely check out the Etsy tutorial as it has detailed steps and goes into a lot more detail than I have.

Recycled plant labels

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At lunch time, I never know what to eat and most of the time can’t be bothered to make anything more complicated than Ryvitas or soup from a can! However, I have discovered Naked Noodle Ramen Noodles which is like a pot noodle but posher and nicer (I like the Thai chicken flavour) I have been eating quite a few of these and as you can see they have very nice packaging and come with a plastic fork. To make myself feel less guilty about eating so many pots of noodles, I like to recycle the packaging. The fork was proving more of a problem, as I only eat them at home, I don’t need the plastic fork (I have real person metal ones) I wanted to use them for something and then one day came up with the idea of using them in the greenhouse. By writing on the handle with a permanent pen, I could use the prongs to stick into the soil and make little labels for my vegetable seeds. As I plant the same seeds every year I can also re-use them! I’m sure there are lots of other things you can do with old plastic forks and I am very open to suggestions (especially as my collection is mounting up again!)

Making Cyanotypes

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Lately it has been so sunny which makes me want to make cyanotypes! I first discovered cyanotypes on my A Level Photography course. My exam theme was light and I wanted to take photographs only using light. So basically a cyanotype is a way of making photos without a camera, using specially prepared paper and a sunny day. Here I will tell you how to prepare the cyanotype paper and how to produce a print!

First of all you need to aquire the materials to make the cyanotype liquid. This is made up from a number of chemicals, and you can get lists of ingredients and quantities on the internet, but as I am not making a large number of prints I buy a kit. Stone Creek Silk sell a “Cyanotype (Blueprint) Chemicals Kit” for £8.50 which makes a good quantity of liquid and includes instructions. When making up the liquid BE CAREFUL! READ ALL THE SAFETY INSTURCTIONS! Although it is a fun and fairly easy process, you are dealing with serious chemicals which need to be handled properly. The most important thing to remember when mixing the chemicals is to do so in a dark environment as the mixture (obviously!) reacts to light and will be unusable if you left it out in the daylight. Once you have mixed the chemicals up according to the instructions, you can store the liquid in a brown glass bottle (in the dark). Apply the liquid to paper using a brush or a sponge and leave to dry in the dark (are you spotting a dark pattern?) Once the paper is dry you can start to make a print!

Collect your objects you want to make a print of. I like to use glass bowls (you get nice patterns from the light refracting) flowers and lace. You can also go the historical route and turn negatives into cyanotypes (use a photo software on your computer to turn your photograph/drawing/ painting  into a negative image, then print it onto acetate made for printers) Keeping your cyanotype paper in the dark for as long as possible, lay it outside in full sun then quickly place your chosen object/negative onto the paper. Do not move it and don’t cause a shadow over the paper as these will show up on the finished print!

When you first lay out your paper, it will be a sort of green/grey colour, but as it reacts to the sun, it will turn to a grey/blue colour (this is how a cyanotype works. The parts covered from light will stay the same colour as the paper they were applied to, the exposed sections turn blue!) There is no set time to leave the paper out in the sun, just look for the colour change and experiment (make sure to have lots of paper prepared) The next step is to wash:

You need to wash the print to remove the cyanotype mixture that did not react to the light. place it under cold running water and wash it until the water runs clear (The stuff that comes off will be green) Be careful not to rip your print when waggling it in the water as it will take some time before it is properly washed.

I like to lay out some old plastic bags by the sink to put the wet cyanotypes onto to dry. As they are drying, check the surface to see if there is any green liquid which didn’t get completely washed off. If there is, just wash the print some more. Basically that’s it! Once it is dry it’s done! Here are my finished pieces:

These aren’t the most brilliant prints! I just did them quickly for this tutorial, but you can see what an effective technique it is. Also I have talked about applying the liquid to paper, but you can also put it onto fabric (the flower image above is made on fabric) wood, anything that will absorb the liquid really. The thing I love about cyanotypes is the surprise result and the experimentation factor. I hope you try it out yourself, it’s so much fun!

Dried Rose Petals

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It always seems a shame to throw away flowers that someone has bought you, but when they die, they tend to go a bit rotten and manky. I have pressed flowers before, but I find it makes them a little brown and most of the time, the reason I want to preserve the flower in the first place is because of its beautiful colours. This week I managed to dry out some roses and save the petals, it worked really well and there are lots of things you can do with them.

To start you will need some cut flowers. The ones I used were on the window sill in a vase of water, when they started to droop, I removed the water and left them in the dry vase. (I think I read somewhere that it is actually the water that makes flowers rot and gives off that horrible smell) Without the water, the flowers will die but also dry out at the same time. This will take a couple of days.

When the flowers are completely dry (they will feel and sound crispy when you touch them!) you can remove the petals from the stem. This is very easy to do by just pushing up and away from where the petals join the stem. (I’m sure there are scientific names for these plant parts but sorry, I don’t know them!) Try not to get any other plant parts into the mix when doing this, you only want the petals. And that’s it really! I want to keep the scent from my roses, so I put the dried petals into an empty(!) glass jam jar. It’s important to use a glass jar, as plastic containers can do something to contaminate the scent, but I guess if you only want the petals for their colour, plastic would be alright.

I was going to use these as confetti at a wedding I am going to on Saturday, but I have changed my mind and I’m going to make little scented pouches and maybe mix them with some lavender or herbs. They also look really nice in the jar. If you were to put them into a large kilner jar or a vintage glass jar, I think it would look  good on a shelf and add a bit of shabby chic style to a room!

Surprise Chocolate Eggs!

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I’ve recently started getting this magazine called Handmade Living, and I have to say, it’s really good! There are ideas and tutorials for all sorts of craft media, cooking, gardening and out of the issues I’ve read, there are loads of projects I want to try. So with it being Easter time, I decided to follow the tutorial for Surprise Chocolate Eggs by Karon Grieve (in issue 11) to make presents for my family. 

Egg step 1So the reason that they are Surprise Chocolate Eggs, is that they are made from real eggs! First of all I had to put a small hole in one end of the egg and a larger hole in the other ( I used a large wool needle) and blow out the contents until the shell was empty. (I had omelette for my tea that day!) Next I washed them in hot water and left them to dry overnight in the egg box wrapped, in tissue.The next step involves melting white chocolate to make an outer layer for the chocolate egg.

Egg step 2I melted the chocolate in the microwave and let it cool a little. I then had to put some tape over the small hole in the eggs to stop the chocolate running out. Next came the tricky task of filling the egg. The tutorial showed an egg with a large hole and it being filled by spooning in the chocolate. I thought I would be cleaver and leave the hole quite small and use a squeezy bottle to squeeze the melted chocolate into the egg. It didn’t work!. Don’t try to be clever like me, follow Karon Grieve’s instructions properly, make a large hole in the bottom of the egg and spoon in the melted chocolate! The white chocolate is then swirled around the inside of the shell so that it coats it, but doesn’t fill it up. Then I had to leave the eggs in the box and put them in the fridge for the chocolate to set (this didn’t take very long)

Egg step 3Next came the milk chocolate. Again I melted it in the microwave andspooned it into the eggs to fill them up to the top! I made ten eggs and used two, two hundred gram bars of milk chocolate for five eggs. Saying that, I only used one bar of white for the outer shell, so next time I would use more white chocolate as I don’t think it will have given the same effect as the picture in the tutorial. After setting the eggs in the fridge, I cleaned up the shells with a damp scouring pad and then tried to decorate them using painted on food colouring. However, I left this on overnight and it was still wet so I wiped it off which left a slight tint to the eggs, which was quite nice.

They were quite messy and took a while to make but I think they will be really appreciated by my family as they are so unusual and obviously hand-made! Thanks Handmade Living magazine and Karon Grieve for such a fun tutorial.

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.