Thursday, 29 September 2011

Papier Mache Handbag

While I am working on new crafts and tutorials for this blog, I thought I would share with you some other crafts I have made previously, starting with my papier mache purse / handbag!  I don't have tutorial photos for this older stuff as wasn't blogging in those days, but will try to explain as best I can...

A shot of the front

I started out by cutting two matching pieces from corrugated cardboard for the front and the back, then used thinner, cereal box card to make one large loop which became the bottom, sides and handle.  I made this loop slightly narrower at the handle and wider at the base.  Then I used masking tape to attach the loop to the front and back, and began to papier mache!

I use different recipes for papier mache, this one was made using slightly watered down white glue.

Here is a shot of the back

I used old newspapers for the first three layers, both inside and out.  When it came to the final layer, I cut out words and phrases from newspapers that I liked, and I added the phrase "It's a Woman Thing" over the top of the handle.


For the inside of the bag and the inside section of the handle, I ripped out small pieces of coloured newsprint from newspaper ads - I didn't want any text on the inside, just a patchwork of colour!

To finish off the outside, I cut (again from corrugated cardboard) a heart shape and a circle - the heart I papier mached the same as the interior with the patchwork of colour, the circle I cut out a newsprint star and finished it with that.

Once the bag, the heart and the circle were all dry, I finished them with 2 coats of white glue to seal it all - you could also use varnish for this.  I then poked two holes in the "buttons" and the bag, and sewed the buttons on to the front with yarn - I finished the stitching on the inside, then brushed over it with glue to make it extra strong.

This bag is strong and perfectly functional, although it doesn't close (and I wouldn't recommend taking it out in heavy rain!).  At present, I prefer to display it in my bedroom and it's great for popping bits and pieces into to keep them tidied away.

It's definitely a conversation piece if you take it out and about!

Nikki x

Linked with

Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday 72!
Dittle Dattle's Amaze Me Monday! #43 
733 blog - Sugar & Spice #79

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

t-shirt blankets

Having 4 kids who pass clothes down the line once they are outgrown, and generous friends who pass things along too, I have a huge amount of clothes stashed in various places just waiting for the kids to grow into them.

There seems to be a surplus of t-shirts - I mean, who really needs 30+ t-shirts in their drawer?  So when packing away the summer clothes last week, I had a lightbulb moment - grab a bunch of each child's favourite t-shirts which are now too small, and make a keepsake - a t-shirt blanket!

I started out by cutting 10 inch x 10 inch squares from the t-shirts with my rotary cutter, cutting through both front and back together to produce 2 squares from each t-shirt, and trying to keep any design fairly central to the square.  I suspect when I get around to doing this for my younger 2, I may have to go down to 8 x 8 or even 6 x 6 since the t-shirts will be smaller.

I went for my old favourite, blanket stitch - well, it is a blanket after all!  Here I have put together the first 6 pieces.

I'm not yet sure how big to make these, but I think at least 6 x 8 squares at the 10 inch size.  They will also have to be backed so I will either get some fleece, or if I have enough t-shirts and time I may even make the other side the same as the first - we'll see, as it will effectively be doubling my work...

My kids love to snuggle in the family room while watching a movie, and I think these will be ideal for snuggling once they are finished!  I plan to make them one each and wrap them up for under the Christmas tree - this of course means I can only work on them in the evening once the kids are in bed, so maybe it's just as well I started in September!

Nikki x

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Spider web from yarn

I really like to make things from stuff I already have around the house wherever possible - so continuing the halloween theme since it's not long until the big day, I decided to make a spider web.  This is something the kids can get involved in too, although be warned - it does get a bit messy...

I have a big box of yarn but for some reason a lot of it is the kind that gets thicker and thinner.  I wanted to use a uniform yarn, so chose this ball which has oranges and yellows.

I covered a sheet of cardboard with clingfilm, and also got out my scissors, glue and a yoghurt pot for dipping the yarn.

I first cut three straight pieces, and began dipping and laying them out.  After dipping these three pieces, I discovered the yoghurt pot was way too fiddly, so poured the glue out onto a paper plate instead.  Make sure each piece of yarn is completey covered in glue, then lift it gently (try not to get it knotted, it's really hard to get knots out of a gluey piece!) and run your fingers down to get rid of excess glue - then lay it where you want it.

I would suggest cutting all your pieces before the glueing stage, I was cutting mine one at a time but there was an awful lot of hand washing in between!  Cut longer than you think you will need, the excess can be trimmed away once it's all dry.

I then started to drape the wavy pieces of the spider web - the end pieces can be put off to one side for later trimming, just make sure you keep the shape you want right to the edge.

When I thought I was finished, I set it out in the sunshine to dry - I had to secure the edges of the clingfilm with pegs as the breeze was blowing it over the glue.

At this point I decided it needed a bit more so I added 2 more straight pieces (one on either side at the widest points) and an extra little wavy piece close to the top.  Here it is with the extra pieces, and partially trimmed.

I left it to dry overnight then I carefully peeled it away from the plastic - it is still quite pliable but if you're gentle, it will keep it's shape.

Trim the ends as desired.  You will find that some dried glue remains (see below), this can be gottten rid of by snipping it off with scissors.

I had planned to paint this white initially, but actually I quite liked the way it looked - I know it may not be spooky, dark orange, but the colour still fits in with the autumn/halloween season...right?

I put it up on the mirror above my mantle, but it could look nice in the top of a doorway, or in a window.  I tucked the ends between the mirror and the frame, and put a tiny piece of white sticky tac on the back of every other joint to hold it in place.

Watch this space for a spider to go with the web!

Nikki x

Linked with

Remodelaholic Link Party 
Momnivore's Dilemma - Halloween Link Party

Friday, 23 September 2011

Papier Mache Pumpkin

I actually made this for Halloween 2010, but since I didn't have a blog then, I couldn't share it - since it's that time of year I thought now would be a good time to post it!

Scot over at Stolloween is simply AMAZING with papier mache, and has a great tutorial for making all kinds of scary looking pumpkins, as well as many other dastardly and evil looking characters!  Check out his pumpkins tutorial.  Here is my version:

I didn't take any pictures before the papier mache process was started, but you will see on the lower half that my garbage bag is stuffed full of scrunched up paper and wound around with string to try to create a pumpkin shape.  I made the stalk with a rolled up newspaper and taped/glued it in place, then began the first layer of papier mache (I used a simple flour, salt and water paste and old newspapers).

Here it is after 4 layers of papier mache - the final layer I used plain white newsprint so I wouldn't have to cover up all the earlier ink with paint, leaving me with a nice, clean base.  You might notice I also chopped down my stalk as felt the original was WAY too long!

It was a bit lumpy in parts where I didn't want lumps, and not lumpy enough in some places I did, but some of that will be rectified in the next step, and as for the others...well, they make my pumpkin gnarly and one-of-a-kind!

I cut out a hole in the base of the pumpkin and removed the bag and all the scrunched paper.

Now it was time to add some definition, particularly to the top of the pumpkin, trying to define all those seperate pieces which may not have translated very well after those layers of papier mache.  I decided to use (for the very first time) drier lint clay, so had saved a load of lint just for this purpose.

I made it by cooking it with a bit of water and some flour added in (you can find many dryer lint clay recipes if you search online).  I have to say, I don't think I will ever use it again, I absolutely HATED the way it felt in my hands - UGH.  Nevertheless, I had it there so decided to push on for this project at least!

Here is my pumpkin out to dry in the sunshine!  You can see the darker grey areas around the top and the stalk where my clay has been added - at this point, I had also drawn my face on too, ready to be cut out.

I carefully cut out the face using an exacto knife.

The next part was reinforcing all the holes I just cut out - I used strips of cereal boxes and a glue gun to do this, making sure they protruded out more than in.

Then more of that icky dryer lint clay (I'm all for keeping things out of landfill but that stuff is just GROSS!) to build up around the eyes, mouth and nose.

While the clay was drying around the features, I stuffed some paper into the mouth to help it hold its shape and not droop with the wet weight of the clay.  Unfortunately I was a bit too eager to take them out so in the end his mouth did sag a little, but I still think he looks suitable nasty!

Next up was a coat of black craft paint:

It was really quite hard to paint the inside of this pumpkin, I think if I made another in the future I would make my first layer of papier mache black construction paper to save having to paint the interior at all.

Finally, some additional paint - I was going to paint him orange but the only orange I had to hand was NEON and I didn't think this would fit in with his old and grimy character.  Instead I dry brushed with white, put some brown on the stalk and some green towards the top - maybe this year he will get a new, orange coat!

There is always the option to use the hole in the bottom to light this guy - I tried a battery operated tea light (not even close to powerful enough) and didn't want to use a live candle for obvious reasons - he is made of paper after all - I'm open to any other suggestions for getting some eery flickering coming from within!

Unfortunately this guy is too big for my mantle, but I will find an appropriate spot for him to scare people!  Maybe I should make a couple of smaller ones which will fit up on the mantle..?
Nikki x

Linked with 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Halloween Countdown Blocks

I found a great post on Christine & Co where she showed off her wonderful Perpetual Calendar Blocks:  The Halloween Edition - and was inspired to create something similar which would be fun for the kids!

I didn't have any wooden blocks, so decided to use what I had - and what I had was a large pile of craft felt - I went for a bigger size than Christine and cut out 4 inch x 4 inch squares in black, orange and green.

I then cut out the numbers free hand in the same three colours, making sure each number had a different coloured background square

The first block (the top 6 in the picture above) should have the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - the second block (the lower 6 numbers in the picture) should have 0, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 - the number 6 is going to double upside down as the number 9, so make sure you are happy with it both ways!  I stitched the numbers on.

I wanted to add a little something to each panel to make it a little more halloweeny (did I just make up a word?), so came up with some halloween themed extras - the spider webs are stitched on with embroidery thread, all of the others are cut from scrap felt - again, I just did it freehand (the bats I doubled over before cutting to make both sides the same) and then stitched them on.

Bear in mind with your number 6/9, do something that will look just as good both ways up - the same could really be said for both number ones and zeroes, but I forgot about that so will just have to make sure these are the right way up when the time comes :O)

In the end I used:  spider webs, ghosts, gravestones, bats, witches hats, a pumpkin, and I embroidered "Boo!" on the final one.  Here are some close-ups of a few of the details:

And then I began assembly!  I found it easiest to sew the 4 sides together first (leaving the top and bottom for last) - I used a blanket stitch, and again went with black, orange and green embroidery thread, and where possible tried to use a contrasting colour to the felt (it's not possible every time).

Just ensure that right sides are always facing out of course, and that the edges are lined up before you begin - pin if required (I didn't).  Finally I sewed on the bottom, and 3 sides of the top before packing with polyfil - I didn't pack them too firmly as didn't want the sides to bulge out and stop my blocks from standing up properly.  Once filled to your liking, stitch up the last edge.  Here is the finished product:

The way the numbers work, the earliest you can display these and begin the countdown in 32 days prior to Halloween - so I have a note on my calendar for September 29th to get them out onto the mantle - I know the kids will have fun taking turns at adjusting them each morning!  I had a lot of fun making them and it only took me a few hours - I am looking forward to making a set for Christmas in the next couple of months too!

Nikki x

Linked with

Momnivore's Dilemma Halloween Link Party 
Shabby Shares Saturday Link Party, October 1st 2011 
Primp Your Stuff Wednesday #16 
Come Together Kids - Halloween Ideas Party 
A Fish Who Like Flowers - Monster Mash! 
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday 73

Hello, and welcome!

Hi everyone!

I have finally decided to take the plunge and start my own blog, where I can share my crafts, DIY projects and upcycling with you!  I thought it best to start by introducing myself.

Originally from Scotland, I was born and brought up in the beautiful city of Edinburgh

In June 2008, my husband, myself and our 4 children (the youngest was only 10 weeks old at the time!) took the plunge and moved to Nova Scotia in Canada, a dream of ours for quite some time.

Life is great here in Canada, and when I get some spare time (not too often in our busy household!) I love to make things, repurpose things and try to make our home as unique and fun as possible!  I hope you will join me for future posts - things for Mum or Dad to make, others which the kids can join in with, and my continued journey to beautify our home!

Nikki x