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craft

DIY, Thrifty

Easy DIY Cloud Shelf (Yurt Life)

2 December, 2014

I haven’t done much DIY for a while – but when I began imagining a shelf that looks like a cloud I couldn’t hold back. (Ah, bladdy Pinterest kinda beat me to it. Remember the pre-Pinterest days, when you believed you’d invented everything?)

Anyway this cloud shelf filled my dreams. It would be like a cloud, floating on my wall. AWESOME.

“Hold me back, man…Where’s the jigsaw? WHERE’S THE JIGSAW HOLD ME BACK.”

You know I love a novelty shelf.

Exhibit A – shelf made out of a vintage suitcase.

Exhibit B – shelf made out of a book.

Shelves are expensive, and so are brackets. Even second hand ones. So why not just DIY something out of stuff you have lying around that is also just a little bit more beauty than a plank of wood, too? Why not, eh?

DIY CLoud Shelf Yurt Life

It was my first time using a jigsaw, and, my word, those things are flipping cool as. I felt like the world was my oyster, with that in my hand. I just pencilled the shape of a cloud onto a bit of MDF and then flipped the switch and buzzed it out. I started nervously and then I could see the bumps and turns forming under the saw. Ten minutes later I was holding a cloud in my hand.

*God complex*

DIY CLoud Shelf Yurt Life

Once I had the cloud shape – drawn so that the open bit fitted perfectly onto an existing box I had (an old wine crate would actually be ideal.) I then glue gunned it on. Because the cloud shape is just a facade it really doesn’t need a sturdier fixing than that. Glue gunning it also meant I avoided having nails on show. A few licks of  white paint made it the perfect canvas for my brightly coloured shelf occupants.

DIY CLoud Shelf Yurt Life

I used wire around the box to hang in on the trellis of the yurt. But you could equally just hang in on a nail.

cloud11

Then I filled it with my favourite little bits and pieces.

There is no coming back from this. Jigsawing out a shelf for every whim and fancy. A shelf representing every one of my favourite things. I could make a rainbow shelf! A shelf like a fox! A GOSH DARN FRIED EGG SHELF!

And I know I will never have a plank of wood for a shelf again.

Craftiness, Green things

Plastic Bag PomPom

14 March, 2013

I have been getting my craft on with plastic bags recently, playing around with some flower and pom pom type things with a Spring / Easter vibe. Who would have thought they could be so much fun? Pom pom recyle plastic bagDespite ALWAYS refusing plastic bags at the shop, we still manage to have loads lying around. Our online grocery shop comes with them – annoyingly sometimes with 1 or 2 items in (GRRRR) and sometimes I even pick particularly pretty ones up as they float around the street.

The colours are often quite vibrant and if you are looking for thrifty decorations or child play things plastic bags are a winner. (Um. Once they are made into something. Probably not ideal to give toddlers a bunch of plastic bags to put over their heads. What is with tots wanting to do this? Ramona thinks plastic-bag-on-head it is the best thing ever…)

I have rejected the traditional pom-pom making method. I’m sorry, but YAWN! In and out of that cardboard hoopy loop- life is TOO SHORT.

Here is the lazy persons guide to pom pom making with a plastic bag.
pompomChose a brightly coloured bag and chop off the handles.
Make a huge, long ribbon out of the bag by cutting into it, 1cm wide, spiralling round and round. (As you would peel an orange when you try and get a continuous peel so you can get the initial of who you are gonna marry. You don’t do that?)

pompom1Once you have your loooong ribbon take a piece of cardboard, mine was 6 cm long, 4 cm wide, and wrap it round and round and round as evenly as possible.

pompom2Once you have wrapped it all around, hold it securely and push out the cardboard.
Tie a belt around the middle.

pompom scissorsTake your schnizzors again and snip through the looped plastic on each end.
Fluff it all out into a pompom!
It made need a few snips here and there to make it all even.
Tada!Pom Pom grocery bag spring craft

Have you got any recycled Spring crafts on the go?

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


 

Craftiness

Recycled Bottletop Magnets – Valentines Day special!

14 January, 2013

I may be slightly addicted to making Bottletop Magnets. There is something so satisfying about such a tiny little canvas, using up something that would ordinarily go in the bin, and experimenting with what works with resin. These may be my favourites so far….

Bottle top magents scrabble maps

I am not an especially big fan of Valentines Day, y’know, commercialism, guilts, singles feeling rubbish etc etc. But I DO love an excuse for crafting.

Tim and I had begun a long distance relationship about a month before Valentines Day 7 years ago. It was a little opportunity to show each other just how head over heels we already were. I was on a bit of a candle making buzz around that time, I used to experiment with all sorts- old keys, flowers, flax. I poured my heart and soul into a big candle for Tim, using a few different kinds of New Zealand foliage. I sent it up to him, hundreds of miles away, in perfect time and he told me just how much he loved it.

It was only a few months later that he revealed how he lit it at the dining table (he LIT it?? Who LIGHTS candles??!) whilst sitting down for dinner with his whole family…. and it, um, caught fire. Foliage + candles = hazard.  His family must have thought me a bit daft.

Anyway, I know you are wondering how he could have competed with such a WONDERFUL pressie from me… Well! He blew my amazing, slightly perilous, candle out of the water. I returned home from university that Valentines Day to a box of chickens on my doorstep. Live chickens. A pair of chooks called Miranda and Gertrude he had adopted on my behalf.

We got engaged the very next month….

So here is another batch of bottletop magnets from me and seeing as there is only 1 month to go let’s make it a loved up Valentines Day special….
Valentines Day Bottle Top Magnets

HOW TO:

  • Buy your resin (this is an environmentally friendly resin, quite dear but a good amount will last FOREVER)
  • Collect your bottletops – the ones I am using here were picked up from a bar so have their edges pressed out from the auto-bottletop popper which is quite a nice effect, but it looks fine without too.
  • Choose your paper/ random objects
  • Play around- thin paper tends to go see through so choose card/ fabric
  • Mix up a small amount of resin- mix REALLY DAMN WELL, get right in there, until it is utterly clear and not misty
  • Pour it to the brim of your bottletops
  • Leave for 24 hours
  • Stick magnets on the back- I buy ugly magnets from secondhand shops and re-use those!Bottle Top Magents for Valentines Day
    I used these Loveheart sweets and am stoked with how they look- I did try other colours but only the white ones managed to hold their colours, so be warned.

I also cut up a map and placed small (from a travel Scrabble set) letters inside. I like the idea of using segments of maps from places that mean something to you both- where you met, first kiss and all that gushy stuff! And, Gosh, I LOVE Scrabble letters, these mini ones work a dream.Bottletop Magnets with scrabbleAre you already thinking about Valentines Day? Have anything planned?

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Craftiness, Thrifty

Cinnamon Christmas Bird Ornaments

11 December, 2012


There has been an image doing the rounds on Pinterest, of some homemade, cinnamon smelling heart shapes. I am SURE you will have seen them, possibly you are one of the millions of people who re-pinned it. Because it’s genius, no? Who doesn’t want a house smelling like Christmas, and the wondrous smuggity feeling of having created that pong yourself?

(Some people get this same feeling on the Underground. They let one go and the whole carriage is retching, and they are thinking to themselves, all proud, “I did that.”  I SO know who guffed when I look around a crowd like this, Tube Farters nearly always fit into one extreme –  either Mr I Dealt It You Smelt It with the subtly vainglorious posture, or the opposite purple-faced, Wishing They Could Squeeze Out Of The Crack in the Doors mortified soul.)

Putting together some ingredients to fill your home with the heavenly smog of cinnamonny Christmas is a winner, so I got some stuff together and made it happen.

The gorgeous, original recipe is Stateside so calls for applesauce and bulk cinnamon, of which I had access to neither so here is how I did it:

To make 6 birds and 6 hearts you need….

1 huge apple, peeled and cubed

1 35gram pot of ground mixed spice

1 35gram pot of cinnamon

  • Put the apple in a pan along with a table spoon of water, cover and simmer on low until it is totally soft. It doesn’t take long, around 20 minutes.
  • Leave to cool then blend using a whizzer/ blender until it is smooth as a babies bum.
  • Stir in your spices, bit by bit. Soon you won’t be able to stir, you’ll need to get in with your hands and knead it. You want it to be totally combined. It will be just like a dark dough. Keep adding more spice until it is super dry, like a biscuit dough.
  • I used one pot of cinnamon and one mixed spice as the pots of mixed spice are dead cheap, but still smell lush.
  • Pop your oven on to Gas Mark 2 to heat up.
  • Roll your dough out, using spice like flour so it doesn’t stick.
  • Cut out your shapes.  (Why, YES, I DID use my home made cookie cutter – of course, you could make any shape your fancied!)
  • Push a skewer through to make a hole for hanging.
  • Put on baking tray, with a light dusting of spice on the bottom.
  • Leave in oven for 1 – 1.5  hours or until completely rock hard. (Mine didn’t take long as we have a really hot fire and brimstone oven from the 50’s)
  • Once they are cool thread them up with some ribbon and hang!
  • I also did a layer of  home made mod podge and glitter, to give them an extra sparkle, the smell is still super strong.

handmade christmas cinnamon decoration birds

Happy Christmas pong creating!

Activism, Craftiness

On world hunger, two year olds and rice crispie cakes…

19 November, 2012

As I stirred from a bizarre dream this morning, reluctant to wake, especially with all of us snuggled so cosily under the duvet, I groaned; “Monday already? Mummy has to go to work…” Ramona replied, “No, Mummy, no work.” I realised with a jolt that I was bringing up a work-shy communist.* Just kidding, but I did have an insta-worry that I am in danger of devaluing my work, seeing it as something I just do to bring home the (soy-based) bacon, and not because I am passionate about the role of campaigning in bringing about a fairer world.

I tried to recover my position. “Well, it is sad that I have to leave you, but mummy gets to go to work in order to help people who are hungry…”  I realised I was addressing quite a big issue that I hadn’t really addressed with my just-two year old before.  And I was being quite colonial in my description.

Ramona was  chewing a chocolate rice crispie cake, getting it all in the bed (gah, don’t judge me, it was her birthday party yesterday and Tim gave her some leftovers for breakfast. Judge him.) I went on, “You see, some people don’t have rice crispie cakes. And mummy, er, tries to make sure everyone can have a rice crispie cake….”

Ramona is too young, but I do want this to be part of our life’s rhetoric. That life sometimes isn’t fair for everyone, but that we can all play a part in making it better.

We can do it through our jobs, by nurturing our children’s empathy and efficacy, we can do it through our hobbies and spare time.

Some of my favourite people, the Craftivist Collective, have launched #Imapiece – crafting jigsaw bits with messages on in collaboration with Save the Children-  to challenge the horrendous truth that every single hour children are dying from hunger. Their central message is that we are all a part of the big picture, we can all join a movement, to craft a more beautiful future together.

I stitched my first piece of jigsaw in a spare hour last weekend… I went for “Prepare a feast!” – I was feeling hopeful, visionary, and imagined a massive banquet table, bending under the weight of nutritious food, enough for every single belly to be full.

 

I would love Ramona to understand this. For my hope, rather than any festering cynicism, to seep into her life and the choices she makes and the very way she see the world. I would like to give her Spectacles of Hope  and Action .

This morning she responded to my sleepy, confused explanation with a slobbery, chocolaty kiss. It is clearly too early in her life for this to all make sense to her. And it was certainly too early in the morning for me give it a bash sensibly, without the rubbish use of rice crispie cake analogies!

I need to really work on this… any tips, anyone?

PS Why not use your own crafty skills to dabble in the #imapiece movement? Read all about it here. 

*This is a bit of an in joke with myself, because when I was a young youth worker and writing alot about Fair Trade in youth publications, I got my first bit of hate mail, an aggressive letter from an ancient capitalist, suggesting I was imploring today’s generation to be “work shy communists”.  Mwhaha. That letter only steeled me in this fight against greed 🙂

Craftiness, Thrifty

18 ways to upcycle old jars

12 November, 2012

If you are like us and eat a lot of lemon curd and peanut butter you have a spare jar, or several hundred, in your home. I keep all mine in the little alley way alongside our kitchen, accessible only by our back garden, a place we try to pretend doesn’t exist. It’s covered with a tarpaulin and houses our Projects. I also, bizarrely, buy extra jars from car boot sales, but just if they are especially pretty or vintage – yep, my huthband doth dethpair.

You see, you can NEVER have enough jars. They provide endless opportunities for giving thrifty but appealing gifts, for beautiful, craftilicious decoration and of course, simple and lovely storage. And for Christmas jars come into their own. Un fact, Christmas was MADE for jars. (Love and family and hope, they get a little look in too.) Despite there being already one million ways to up cycle a jar, I am still not sure the human race has even reached the full realms of what is possible.

But to get us started, here are 18 of the best…

Gift ideas

Use chalk board paint and sweets inside With a bit of tile grout and some ordinary acrylic paint you can whip up small, colourful batches of chalkboard paint. It slicks straight onto any surface, including jars, meaning you can fill a jar with sweets and label it with a cool message.

Put a figure on top and homemade finger paints inside Once you have glued a figure on top of a jar, and painted it, there is no turning back. It looks so wicked. In this instance I filled the jars up with matching homemade finger paints, and gave it as a gift to a toddler.
Decorate the lid and put a home made body scrub inside
Just a bit of cool paper and a decoupage technique (homemade mod podge) can transform a rubbish old jar. I filled mine with the easiest homemade body scrub ever.

Layer cake ingredients inside and give with instructions to make No, you  cynics, this isn’t a lazy way of giving some baking, it’s CUTE, all right? I like it.

Put together a tiny sewing kit and make the lid a pin cushion. A lovely friend gave me a sewing kit in a jar once and I just loved it. Such a gorgeous gift to receive.

Photo credit and How To from must-read Momtastic

Fill with reshaped old crayons Melting and reshaping old crayons makes a gorgeous gift for children. Putting them in a handy jar so you can see the shapes and colours against the side make it that bit more special.

Decoration Ideas

Use paper on the outside to create a beautiful tea light Cutting shapes into pages from a book and popping it around a jar to create a candle holder has to be the most simple decoration ever… oh wait, but look:

Decoupage leaf candle holder  Maybe that honour goes to the sticking of leaves to the outside of a jar to make a candle holder. So lush, and can be seasonal, in whatever season. A bit of nature in your home.

Photo credit and beautiful How to found at From Panka With Love

Glow in the dark jars You can get glow-in-the-dark paint from most craft shops, and it is put to stunning use here. How perfect for a child’s room.

A beautiful jar chandelier This is an upcycle that needs a bit more dedication, and possibly an electrician. But, if you are looking for a light feature THIS IS IT!

Christmas Ideas

Christmas snow globes A jar, a bit of glitter, some objects and some glue. Amazing. I am definitely going to craft up some of these with Ramona, I am going to keep my eyes peeled at car boot sales for especially kitcsh Christmas decorations I could feature in them.

Photo credit and stunning How To from Elisa McLaughlin Designs

Christmas in a jar Love this, giving someone everything they need to fill their home with the Christmas pong, I mean, SPIRIT. You could really adapt this idea, with what you can find that smells awesomely Christmassy.

Edible Ideas

A jar of DIY peppermint hot chocolate I love the idea of giving someone a little treat they can give themselves when the time arises. A ready to go drink would be something my husband would love.

Rainbow Cake in a jar All the glories of a classic 1980’s rainbow cake with the added gimmick of eating it out of a jar. Immense.

Photo credit and How to at the brilliant Run with Glitter blog

Berry crumble in a jar If someone was to serve me a pie in a jar I think I’d be their BFF.

You kind of get the idea here, I guess… bake things, but in jars.

Storage Ideas

Glue lids to underside of shelf, screw jars on to itThis is an ace idea, possible with just a glue gun, a shelf an some jars. Really ideal if you don’t have much surface space.

Photo Credit and How To from Good Housekeeping

Use a hot glue to spell out the contents of the jar and paint over  Another simple idea, but SO effective. I need this so that when I finally reach my one life’s ambition of having a cleaner they’ll know where to pop my tiny trinkets…

Tadah! They are my faves. What are the best ways you have seen to reuse a jar?

PS See beautiful pictures of all the above ideas on my Upcycle your Jars Pinterest board. (Crumbs, you know you have made it when you have a Pinterest board about Jars…)